Tuvalu


Tuvalu
Tuvaluan, adj., n.
/tooh"veuh looh', tooh vah"looh/, n.
a parliamentary state consisting of a group of islands in the central Pacific, S of the equator: a former British colony; gained independence 1978. 7000; 10 sq. mi. (26 sq. km). Cap.: Funafuti. Formerly, Ellice Islands, Lagoon Islands.

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Tuvalu

Introduction Tuvalu -
Background: In 1974, ethnic differences within the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands caused the Polynesians of the Ellice Islands to vote for separation from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands. The following year, the Ellice Islands became the separate British colony of Tuvalu. Independence was granted in 1978. In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name ".tv" for $50 million in royalties over the next dozen years. Geography Tuvalu
Location: Oceania, island group consisting of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 S, 178 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 26 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 26 sq km
Area - comparative: 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 24 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March)
Terrain: very low-lying and narrow coral atolls
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: unnamed location 5 m
Natural resources: fish
Land use: arable land: 0% permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: severe tropical storms are usually rare, but, in 1997, there were three cyclones; low level of islands make them very sensitive to changes in sea level Environment - current issues: since there are no streams or rivers and groundwater is not potable, most water needs must be met by catchment systems with storage facilities (the Japanese Government has built one desalination plant and plans to build one other); beachhead erosion because of the use of sand for building materials; excessive clearance of forest undergrowth for use as fuel; damage to coral reefs from the spread of the Crown of Thorns starfish; Tuvalu is very concerned about global increases in greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on rising sea levels, which threaten the country's underground water table; in 2000, the government appealed to Australia and New Zealand to take in Tuvaluans if rising sea levels should make evacuation necessary Environment - international party to: Climate Change, Climate
agreements: Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea
Geography - note: one of the smallest and most remote countries on Earth; six of the coral atolls - Nanumea, Nui, Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti, and Nukulaelae - have lagoons open to the ocean; Nanumaya and Niutao have landlocked lagoons; Niulakita does not have a lagoon People Tuvalu -
Population: 11,146 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.6% (male 1,851; female 1,785) 15-64 years: 62.3% (male 3,335; female 3,607) 65 years and over: 5.1% (male 233; female 335) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.4% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 21.44 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 7.45 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/ female total population: 0.95 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 22 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 66.98 years female: 69.23 years (2002 est.) male: 64.83 years
Total fertility rate: 3.07 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Tuvaluan(s) adjective: Tuvaluan
Ethnic groups: Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%
Religions: Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%
Languages: Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
Literacy: definition: percentage of people over the age of 15 who can read and write total population: 55% (1996) male: NA% female: NA% Government Tuvalu -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Tuvalu note: "Tuvalu" means "group of eight," referring to the country's eight traditionally inhabited islands former: Ellice Islands
Government type: constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy; began debating republic status in 1992
Capital: Fongafale Administrative divisions: none
Independence: 1 October 1978 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 1 October (1978)
Constitution: 1 October 1978
Legal system: NA
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Tomasi PUAPUA, M.D. (since 26 June 1998) elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from the members of Parliament; election last held 13 December 2001 (next to be held by August 2002) election results: Koloa TALAKE elected prime minister; percent of Parliament vote - 53% cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister head of government: Prime Minister Koloa TALAKE (since 13 December 2001); TALAKE took over after Prime Minister Faimalaga LUKA was ousted in a vote of no-confidence
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Fale I Fono, also called House of Assembly (15 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 25 July 2002 (next to be held NA 2006) election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 15
Judicial branch: High Court (a chief justice visits twice a year to preside over its sessions; its rulings can be appealed to the Court of Appeal in Fiji); eight Island Courts (with limited jurisdiction) Political parties and leaders: there are no political parties but members of Parliament usually align themselves in informal groupings Political pressure groups and none
leaders: International organization ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, IFRCS
participation: (associate), ITU, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WTrO (applicant) Diplomatic representation in the US: Tuvalu does not have an embassy in the US - the country's only diplomatic post is in Fiji - Tuvalu does, however, have a UN office located at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400D, New York, New York 10017, telephone: [1] (212) 490-0534 Diplomatic representation from the the US does not have an embassy in
US: Tuvalu; the US ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tuvalu
Flag description: light blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant; the outer half of the flag represents a map of the country with nine yellow five-pointed stars symbolizing the nine islands Economy Tuvalu
Economy - overview: Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. The country has no known mineral resources and few exports. Subsistence farming and fishing are the primary economic activities. Fewer than 1,000 tourists, on average, visit Tuvalu annually. Government revenues largely come from the sale of stamps and coins and worker remittances. About 1,000 Tuvaluans work in Nauru in the phosphate mining industry. Nauru has begun repatriating Tuvaluans, however, as phosphate resources decline. Substantial income is received annually from an international trust fund established in 1987 by Australia, NZ, and the UK and supported also by Japan and South Korea. Thanks to wise investments and conservative withdrawals, this Fund has grown from an initial $17 million to over $35 million in 1999. The US government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu, with 1999 payments from a 1988 treaty on fisheries at about $9 million, a total which is expected to rise annually. In an effort to reduce its dependence on foreign aid, the government is pursuing public sector reforms, including privatization of some government functions and personnel cuts of up to 7%. In 1998, Tuvalu began deriving revenue from use of its area code for "900" lines and in 2000, from the lease of its ".tv" Internet domain name. Royalties from these new technology sources could raise GDP substantially over the next decade. With merchandise exports only a fraction of merchandise imports, continued reliance must be placed on fishing and telecommunications license fees, remittances from overseas workers, official transfers, and investment income from overseas assets.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $12.2 million (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,100 (2000 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 7,000 (2001 est.) Labor force - by occupation: people make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls and from wages sent home by those abroad (mostly workers in the phosphate industry and sailors)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $22.5 million expenditures: $11.2 million, including capital expenditures of $4.2 million (2000 est.)
Industries: fishing, tourism, copra Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: NA% hydro: NA% nuclear: NA% other: NA%
Agriculture - products: coconuts; fish
Exports: $276,000 (f.o.b., 1997)
Exports - commodities: copra, fish
Exports - partners: Sweden, Fiji, Iceland, Germany, Greece (2000)
Imports: $7.2 million (c.i.f., 1998)
Imports - commodities: food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods
Imports - partners: Fiji, Australia, Portugal, NZ (2000)
Debt - external: $NA Economic aid - recipient: $13 million (1999 est.); note - major donors are Japan, Australia, and the US
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD); note - there is also a Tuvaluan dollar
Currency code: AUD
Exchange rates: Tuvaluan dollars or Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.9354 (January 2002), 1.9320 (2001), 1.7173 (2000), 1.5497 (1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Tuvalu - Telephones - main lines in use: 1,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1994)
Telephone system: general assessment: serves particular needs for internal communications domestic: radiotelephone communications between islands international: NA
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1999)
Radios: 4,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 0 (1997)
Televisions: 800
Internet country code: .tv Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA Transportation Tuvalu -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 19.5 km paved: 0 km unpaved: 19.5 km (2002)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Funafuti, Nukufetau
Merchant marine: total: 5 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 31,021 GRT/52,198 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 5 (2002 est.) ships by type: cargo 3, passenger/ cargo 1, petroleum tanker 1
Airports: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2001) Military Tuvalu -
Military branches: no regular military forces; Police Force (includes Maritime Surveillance Unit for search and rescue missions and surveillance operations) Military expenditures - dollar $NA
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
GDP: Transnational Issues Tuvalu - Disputes - international: none

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Island country, west-central Pacific Ocean.

Area: 9.9 sq mi (25.63 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 10,900. Capital: Fongafale (on the Funafuti atoll). The majority of the people are Polynesian. Language: Tuvaluan; English is widely used. Religion: Church of Tuvalu (evolved from Congregational missions). Currency: Tuvalu dollar (equivalent to the Australian dollar). Tuvalu is an island group comprising five atolls and four coral islands, all of them low-lying, with maximum elevations less than 20 ft (6 m), and covered mainly with coconut palms, breadfruit trees, and grasses. The economy is based on subsistence agriculture and fishing. Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy with one legislative house; its chief of state is the British monarch represented by the governor-general, and the head of government is the prime minister. The original Polynesian settlers probably came mainly from Samoa or Tonga. The islands were sighted by the Spanish in the 16th century. Europeans settled there in the 19th century and intermarried with Tuvaluans. During this period Peruvian slave traders known as "blackbirders" decimated the population. In 1856 the U.S. claimed the four southern islands for guano mining. Missionaries from Europe arrived in 1865 and rapidly converted the islanders to Christianity. In 1892 Tuvalu joined the British Gilbert Islands, a protectorate that became the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony in 1916. Tuvaluans voted in 1974 for separation from the Gilberts (now Kiribati), whose people are Micronesian. Tuvalu gained independence in 1978, and in 1979 the U.S. relinquished its claims. Elections were held in 1981, and a revised constitution was adopted in 1986. In recent decades the government has tried to find overseas job opportunities for its citizens.

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▪ 2009

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 9,700
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti Atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Filoimea Telito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia

      Tuvalu faced continuing threats in 2008 from rising sea levels, which were beginning to contaminate its freshwater aquifers, and from surges and unusually high tides (often called king tides), which were causing accelerated coastal degradation. The country had earlier asked Australia and New Zealand to consider taking in Tuvaluans when the low-lying islands eventually become uninhabitable, and talks with both countries continued. Some 100 Tuvaluans had settled successfully in nearby Niue, and there was dialogue on the possibility of settling more Tuvaluan refugees in Niue, which had a declining population.

      In April Tuvalu became the 11th signatory to ratify the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement. A new twice-weekly air service from Funafuti to Fiji opened the possibility of expanding tourism, but Tuvalu was likely to derive more income from seasonal workers who worked as temporary labour in horticulture and viticulture industries in New Zealand. Although Tuvalu was not included in the parallel Australian scheme to commence later in the year, Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met in July and agreed to work toward a Pacific Partnership that would provide a better-coordinated approach to Tuvalu's short-term development. In August Tuvalu sent a team of three to the Beijing Olympics, a weightlifter and two track and field athletes, including the country's first woman Olympian.

Cluny Macpherson

▪ 2008

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 9,700
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti Atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Filoimea Telito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia

      Tuvalu's well-managed Tuvalu Trust Fund, which invested in major economies and funded a significant part of the government budget, started 2007 in good shape, but the fund was likely to suffer from global credit problems that emerged late in the year. Income from the lease of the country's “.tv” Internet domain name to Verisign had again fallen below anticipated levels, which created additional economic problems. At the same time, Tuvalu became a partner in a trial scheme to provide migrant labour for seasonal horticultural work in New Zealand. This plan could offset some of the loss of income, but it would increase Tuvalu's dependence on remittances from migrant labour for revenues. Aid continued to play a significant role in providing infrastructure for a growing population; in February Japan commissioned a $7.5 million upgrade of Funafuti Atoll's electric-power-supply system.

      Tuvalu faced other, and more potentially serious, environmental problems: sea levels around it were rising at a rate of 2.3 cm (almost 1 in) annually, causing accelerated coastal degradation; underground water supplies were deteriorating; and the destruction of its barrier reefs by Crown of Thorns starfish was increasing. The prospect that Tuvalu's nine atolls might be submerged by as early as 2040 had already raised questions concerning where the population might be relocated.

Cluny Macpherson

▪ 2007

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 10,600
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti Atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Filoimea Telito
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Maatia Toafa and, from August 14, Apisai Ielemia

      On Aug. 3, 2006, Tuvalu held a general election for the country's 15-member legislature (in which there were no formal parties). Although Prime Minister Maatia Toafa retained his seat, many of his supporters lost, and on August 14 opposition MP Apisai Ielemia came to power as the new prime minister.

      Despite Tuvalu's limited natural resources, small size, and extreme isolation, the economy performed well. This was due to the strong performance of the Tuvalu Trust Fund, which financed 16% of government expenditure. (The fund was established in 1987 by Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. and, more recently, was also supported by Japan and South Korea.) Well-managed offshore investments and a buoyant global economy helped the fund grow from its initial $17 million to more than $42 million in 2006. Additional revenue was provided by limited international aid; expatriate phosphate miners and sailors on German merchant ships; commercial fishing rights licensed to vessels from Japan, Taiwan, and the U.S.; and the leasing of the country's Internet domain name, “tv.” Revenue from fishing and domain name licenses was falling, however, and this, combined with rising oil prices and civil servants' wages, contributed to an increasing budget deficit in 2006. Ielemia's government imposed austerity measures, including a ban on government-funded overseas travel by MPs and civil servants.

Cluny Macpherson

▪ 2006

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 9,700
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti Atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governors-General Faimalaga Luka and, from April 15, Filoimea Telito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Maatia Toafa

      In 2005 Tuvalu Prime Minister Maatia Toafa, who won office by a single vote in the 15-member legislature in October 2004, consolidated his position and named his predecessor, Saufatu Sopoanga, deputy prime minister. Early in the year Parliament met only occasionally because Toafa initially depended on the vote of one MP, Sio Patiale, who was having medical treatment overseas. By mid-September by-elections triggered by resignations, including Patiale's, had given the prime minister a working majority. In June Tuvalu hosted a meeting of regional ministers of finance and other officials to discuss strategies for the strengthening of the private sector, especially in the smaller aid-dependent island states. That same month the government participated in regional talks aimed at increasing income from the exploitation of fisheries in island states' exclusive economic zones. Former prime minister Faimalaga Luka died in August; he had resigned as governor-general in April because of failing health.

      As part of a regional aid contribution, Taiwan in July agreed to meet the $3.5 million cost of repatriating hundreds of unpaid phosphate-mining employees from Tuvalu and Kiribati who had been stranded in Nauru, which was near bankruptcy and unable to pay the workers.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2005

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 9,600
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti Atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Faimalaga Luka
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Saufatu Sopoanga and, from August 27, Maatia Toafa (acting until October 11)

      Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoanga was defeated by a vote of no confidence in August 2004. Because all seats in the 15-member legislature had to be filled before a vote for prime minister could be taken, Sopoanga resigned his seat to buy more time for negotiating a return to power. He was successful in the subsequent by- election, but former deputy prime minister Maatia Toafa, from Nanumea Atoll, defeated him 8–7 in the vote for prime minister.

      Tuvalu, comprising low coral atolls and reef islands vulnerable to rising sea levels, was a strong campaigner for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and had regularly sought resettlement options for its people. In February unusually high “king tides” caused flooding on much of Funafuti Atoll. In July Tuvalu joined the International Whaling Commission but denied that it had received additional aid from Japan as a consequence.

      The Tuvalu economy relied heavily on its investment fund, the licensing of its Internet top-level domain name (.tv), and remittance income from merchant seamen and workers in the phosphate industry in Nauru. The financial collapse of Nauru and its phosphate corporation forced Tuvalu to repatriate some 200 workers who had not been paid and to consider financial assistance for the remaining 100.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2004

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 10,200
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Tomasi Puapua and, from September 9, Faimalaga Luka
Head of government:
Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoaga

      Tuvalu spent much of 2003 in political stalemate. After the government of Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoaga lost its majority in the 15-member legislature in two by-elections in May, it sought to attract opposition members to ensure a majority before calling for Parliament to convene. The governor-general then called for Parliament to meet for the purpose of electing a speaker. After this was done, Sopoaga again adjourned Parliament, and opposition members took legal action. There was further confusion when Faimalaga Luka, the recently elected speaker, was confirmed as the new governor-general; his predecessor had completed a five-year term. With a government supporter victorious in the consequent by-election and an opposition member defecting to the government, Sopoaga had an assured majority and called Parliament in early November.

      Tuvalu was one of the Pacific islands countries scheduled to receive planning assistance under an Asian Development Bank project to develop rules to cope with anticipated rising sea levels to be caused by expected climate change over the next 50 years. A rise in sea level of 50 cm (20 in) would submerge more than half of the area of Tuvalu's low-lying islands, and the accompanying higher sea temperatures would increase Tuvalu's vulnerability to cyclonic storms. As part of its planning efforts, Tuvalu continued to seek emigration opportunities for its population.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2003

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 10,900
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Tomasi Puapua
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Koloa Talake and, from August 2, Saufatu Sopoaga

      In the July 2002 elections, 39 candidates, including 2 women, vied for seats in the 15-member Parliament; six sitting members, including Prime Minister Koloa Talake, lost their seats. The new prime minister was Saufatu Sopoaga, the former minister of finance. In August Sopoaga announced plans for a referendum to determine whether Tuvalu should become a republic, with the head of government directly elected, rather than a parliamentary democracy recognizing the British sovereign as head of state and having a prime minister elected by Parliament.

      At the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg, S.Af., Tuvalu highlighted the environmental vulnerability of its coral islands to global warming, rising sea levels, and cyclonic storms. It particularly attacked the position of the U.S. (the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases) and Australia (which produced the highest levels of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis). Tuvalu threatened to take legal action in international courts. Australia rejected the claims and announced an aid package for improved meteorological services and projects that would allow Pacific Island countries to adapt to changing climatic conditions.

      The Asian Development Bank approved financial assistance for Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute, which prepared young men for employment in the international merchant marine. Though overseas workers contributed some $A 5 million (U.S. $2.6 million) to the Tuvalu economy through remittances, the main source of government revenue during the year came from Tuvalu's .tv Internet franchise.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2002

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 11,000
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Tomasi Puapua
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Lagitupu Tuilimu (acting), from February 24 Faimalaga Luka and, from December 14, Koloa Talake

      Following the death of Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana in December 2000, Lagitupu Tuilimu served as acting prime minister until Faimalaga Luka, a former civil servant, was elected in February 2001 to lead the government, but he lost office in December after a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. He was replaced by Koloa Talake, a former public servant and minister of finance. A referendum on the country's future constitutional status was scheduled to be held in early 2002.

      The government's commercialization of its Internet domain—.tv— had generated revenue of some $30 million in less than two years. Some funds were invested and, with aid donors, the government embarked on major infrastructure projects, including roads, outer-island electrification, and airport development; the .tv Corp. also became a major shareholder in Air Fiji, which would have the exclusive right to provide air services to Tuvalu for five years.

      Internationally, the government continued to express concern over the implications of global warming for low-lying states and criticized Australia for its unwillingness to develop a systematic relocation scheme for Tuvalu residents in the event that Tuvalu's islands became uninhabitable. Scientific evidence, however, suggested that Tuvalu had changed little in eight years.

      Though Tuvalu was admitted as the 54th member of the British Commonwealth of Nations in 2000, its formal induction was deferred when the October 2001 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting planned for Brisbane, Australia, was canceled following the terrorist attacks in the U.S. Tuvalu established its mission at the United Nations in New York City.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2001

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 10,800
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Tomasi Puapua
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Ionatana Ionatana and, from December 8, Lagitupu Tuilimu (acting)

      Tuvalu was admitted to the United Nations in September 2000 as the world organization's 189th member and 22 years after having achieved independence from the U.K. In his first UN address, Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana identified issues that he believed the international community should address for the benefit of small countries: the impact of globalization on indigenous cultures (see Economic Affairs: Sidebar (Globalization-Why All the Fuss? )), global climate change, and international peace and security. Also in September, Tuvalu moved from associate status to full membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, becoming the 54th member.

      The assumption of a higher profile in international affairs and an increased expenditure on infrastructure and social services by the small island nation were facilitated by the receipt of financial benefits from the saleof rights to the country's Internet domain name of www.tv for a return of $50 million over 10 years, a 20% share in the holding company dotTV, and a seat on its board. The first payment of $20 million was received early in the year and exceeded the usual annual government expenditure of $14 million.

      Ionatana died unexpectedly in December. Prime minister since April 1999, Ionatana had enhanced Tuvalu's international profile as a small but independent nation.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 2000

Area:
25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 10,600
Capital:
Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti atoll
Chief of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Sir Tomasi Puapua
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Bikenibeu Paeniu and, from April 27, Ionatana Ionatana

      In April 1999 Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu lost office after a number of his Cabinet colleagues joined with the opposition in the 12-member Parliament. Paeniu, a leading regional spokesman on the implications of global warming for low-lying island states, lost support over allegations surrounding his private life. He had also lost political support after a promised $50 million deal for the sale of the country's Internet code (.tv) to Canadian interests was scaled back to an expectation of $10 million–$12 million and then fell through completely early in the new year.

      Paeniu's successor was Ionatana Ionatana, a former police officer and senior civil servant and, in politics, a former minister of education, culture, health, and women's affairs. In May the Ionatana government signaled a high priority on the Outer Islands Development Fund, and later in the year Asian Development Bank funds were secured for the devolution of local development funding to local governments. Gross domestic product growth was recorded at 2% for 1998, with inflation expected to reach 2% in 1999.

      As an expression of Tuvalu's close relationship with Taiwan, to which it had extended diplomatic recognition, Gov.-Gen. Sir Thomasi Puapua made a state visit to Taipei in May.

Barrie Macdonald

▪ 1999

      Area: 25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 10,400

      Capital: Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti atoll

      Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Tulaga Manuella

      Head of government: Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu

      Elections for Parliament took place in March 1998. To select 12 legislators, the country's 4,000 voters were faced with 36 candidates, all male. In the election former prime minister Kamuta Latasi lost his seat, and Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu was easily returned along with 10 supporting MPs.

      The 1998 budget of $A 13,600,000 was allocated as follows: $A 3,720,000 for development, $A 3,550,000 for reinvestment in the country's trust fund, and the balance for operational expenses ($A 1 = U.S. $0.61). Tuvalu continued its attempts to seek innovative sources of revenue, such as the practice of selling passports (U.S. $11,000 per person and $27,000 per family), despite the possibility that some countries would not recognize the passports for entry purposes. The government also sold the licensing of its Internet domain name, ".tv," to a Canadian company for U.S. $50 million plus a share of future profits.

BARRIE MACDONALD

▪ 1998

      Area: 25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 10,300

      Capital: Government offices in Vaiaku, Fongafale islet, of Funafuti atoll

      Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Tulaga Manuella

      Head of government: Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu

      The political crisis of late 1996 continued with Prime Minister Kamuta Latasi refusing to test the support for his government by calling Parliament into session. He was, however, defeated 7-5 on a no-confidence motion when Parliament met in December and was replaced a week later by former prime minister Bikenibeu Paeniu. Paeniu restored the Union Jack to the national flag of the former British colony and throughout 1997 adopted a strong stance on the need to control emissions of greenhouse gases in order to ensure the survival of low-lying island nations.

      The economy remained heavily dependent on aid and income from citizens living abroad. The Tuvalu Trust Fund performed well, providing some $A 3.9 million for distribution and allowing the reinvestment of $3 million, bringing the total in the fund to $A 35.3 million. The government continued its efforts to find opportunities for overseas employment, as the jobs of about 1,000 of its citizens currently working in Nauru were jeopardized by the projected exhaustion of that country's phosphate deposits within a decade.

BARRIE MACDONALD
      This article updates Tuvalu.

▪ 1997

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Tuvalu comprises five atolls and four coral islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Area: 24.4 sq km (9.4 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 9,500. Cap.: Government offices in Vaiaku, on Fongafale islet, of Funafuti Atoll. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of $A 1.26 to U.S. $1 ($A 1.99 = £ 1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1996, Tulaga Manuella; prime minister, Kamuta Latasi.

      In accordance with the recommendation of a widely representative convention in 1995, the government of Tuvalu devolved significant responsibility to island-based governing councils in 1996. The new councils (which would include traditional leaders, members of Parliament, and representatives of community organizations) would have responsibility for a centrally allocated budget, the appointment of local officials, and capital development programs. The whole scale of the economy remained modest, however, with a total government budget of $A 20 million, of which $A 12 million came from aid. (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This article updates Tuvalu.

▪ 1996

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Tuvalu comprises nine main islands and their associated islets and reefs in the western Pacific Ocean. Area: 24.4 sq km (9.4 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 9,400. Cap.: Fongafale, on Funafuti Atoll. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of $A 1.31 to U.S. $1 ($A 2.08 = £1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1995, Tulaga Manuella; prime minister, Kamuta Laatasi.

      At the annual Independence Day celebrations in October 1995, a new flag, which deleted the Union Jack, was flown publicly for the first time. Suggestions of a republican future for Tuvalu, which would involve severing links with the British crown, met with little enthusiasm, however.

      Tuvalu's capacity to patrol its large exclusive economic zone was improved with the gift of a patrol vessel from Australia and with the related construction of a national coordinating centre and support workshop. The gift would be supported by a detachment of Australian naval personnel and a guaranteed future refit to extend the life of the vessel. Prime Minister Kamuta Laatasi visited Tokyo for talks on overseas development assistance and attended meetings of the Pacific Islands Development Program in Honolulu. A major urban-planning project for Funafuti and for Vaitupu had been initiated by the Asian Development Bank.

      In March Laatasi attended the inaugural meeting of a new regional subgrouping of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Tuvalu, which was intended to foster cooperation in economic development, civil aviation, and other matters. Tuvalu joined other South Pacific Forum states in condemning French nuclear testing. (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This updates the article Tuvalu.

▪ 1995

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Tuvalu comprises nine main islands and their associated islets and reefs in the western Pacific Ocean. Area: 24.4 sq km (9.4 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 9,300. Cap.: Fongafale, on Funafuti Atoll. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of $A 1.35 to U.S. $1 ($A 2.15 = £1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governors-general in 1994, Tomu Sione and, from June, Tulaga Manuella; prime minister, Kamuta Laatasi.

      The government of Prime Minister Kamuta Laatasi dismissed Gov.-Gen. Tomu Sione, maintaining that he was a political appointee of the previous regime. The new governor-general was Tulaga Manuella, a former civil service accountant and secretary of the Tuvalu Christian Church and the Pacific Council of Churches.

      As two of its major priorities, the Laatasi government declared its intention to reduce the number of government workers, which stood at approximately 500 in a total population of 9,300, and to decentralize government, with the Departments of Education and Health to be located on the island of Vaitupu and that of Fisheries on Nukufetau. The government was facing a shortage of land on the headquarters atoll of Funafuti, where some 43% of the population lived. One-third of the main islet was unusable for agriculture or settlement because of pits created by wartime excavations for the construction of the country's main airfield. Urbanization, resulting in the encroachment of settlement onto agricultural land, was being resisted by the indigenous people of Funafuti. The problem was likely to escalate in four to five years with the exhaustion of phosphate mining at Nauru and the consequent return home of some 700 Tuvaluans currently living there. To counter this, the government was seeking to expand work opportunities for Tuvaluans in Australia and New Zealand.

      (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This updates the article Tuvalu.

▪ 1994

      A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Tuvalu comprises nine main islands and their associated islets and reefs in the western Pacific Ocean. Area: 24 sq km (9 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 9,500. Cap.: Fongafale, on Funafuti Atoll. Monetary unit: Australian dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of $A 1.55 to U.S. $1 ($A 2.35 = £1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1993, Toaripi Lauti; prime ministers, Bikenibeu Paeniu and from December 10, Kamuta Laatasi.

      Long-simmering tensions between Tuvalu and the United Kingdom, its former colonial power, surfaced at the end of 1992 when Britain's minister of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs criticized Tuvalu's economic policy and, in particular, public-service pay increases. In response, Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu maintained that the British government had not adequately prepared the island nation for independence and did not appreciate Tuvalu's development priorities. He noted that the pay increases did not even cover inflation and that, with the salaries for top public servants at no more than $A 11,000, Tuvalu lagged significantly behind its neighbours. Tuvalu's financial projections showed a surplus of $A 1.5 million on a budget of $A 1.8 million for 1993, and further surpluses were expected through 1996.

      Following a general election in mid-1993, the Parliament was deadlocked over its selection of prime minister. After Parliament had twice failed to resolve the issue, Gov.-Gen. Toaripi Lauti dissolved Parliament on September 22 and scheduled a new general election for November 25. Kamuta Laatasi was elected prime minister on December 10. (BARRIE MACDONALD)

      This updates the article Tuvalu.

* * *

Introduction
Tuvalu, flag of  country in the west-central Pacific Ocean. It is composed of nine small coral islands scattered in a chain lying approximately northwest to southeast over a distance of some 420 miles (676 kilometres). The capital is Fongafale, on Funafuti Atoll. With colonial Kiribati, Tuvalu formed the unit known as Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.

The land
 The group includes both atolls and reef islands. The atolls—Nanumea, Nui, Nukufetau, Funafuti, and Nukulaelae—have islets encircling a shallow lagoon; the reef islands—Nanumanga, Niutao, Vaitupu, and Niulakita—are compact with a fringing reef. The islands are low-lying, most being 13 to 16 feet (4 to 5 metres) above sea level. There are no rivers; rain catchment and wells provide the only fresh water. Rainfall averages 100 inches (2,500 millimetres) in the north and 125 inches in the south. The prevailing winds are southeast trades; westerly storms occur from November to February. Daytime temperatures range from 80 to 85 °F (27 to 29 °C).

      Because the soils are porous, agriculture is limited. Coconut palms thrive, and breadfruit trees, pandanus, taro, and bananas are grown. Pigs and chickens are raised, and seabirds, fish, and shellfish are caught for food. The islands increasingly depend on imported food.

The people
      The Tuvaluans (Tuvalu) are Polynesian, and their language, Tuvaluan, is closely related to Samoan. Nui, however, was heavily settled in prehistoric times by Micronesians from the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati). English is taught in the schools and widely used. The vast majority of the population belongs to the Church of Tuvalu (the former Ellice Islands Protestant Church).

      Although most people live on the outer islands in extended family households clustered into villages, about one-third of the population lives on Funafuti (Funafuti Atoll), the centre of government and commerce. Population growth has been slowed by family planning; life expectancy at birth is about 60 years. About 10 percent of the population lives overseas, either pursuing education, working in the Nauru phosphate industry, or working on merchant ships.

The economy
      Most Tuvaluans are subsistence farmers and are aided by remittances from relatives working overseas. A small quantity of copra is produced for export, the sale of stamps accounts for modest earnings, and fees are collected from foreign fishing fleets, but the country depends heavily on foreign aid. It imports most of its food, fuel, and manufactured goods. Retailing is handled by community-based cooperative societies. Tuvalu uses Australian currency but also issues its own coinage. There is a single bank, a joint government-commercial venture.

      Tuvalu has air links with Kiribati and Fiji; for international shipping, it depends on irregular regional services. Seaplanes have been used for interisland travel, but generally the outer islands depend on a single government vessel. Motorcycles are common on Funafuti, but there are few automobiles.

Administration and social conditions
      Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, with the British sovereign (through a governor-general) as head of state. The government is a parliamentary democracy with a unicameral legislature elected by universal adult suffrage. There are no political parties: the prime minister is chosen by and from the legislature. Tuvalu is a member of the South Pacific Forum.

      The government provides universal primary education and, under a joint arrangement with the Church of Tuvalu, secondary education to school certificate level for selected pupils. A few are sent overseas for further education and training. Medical facilities are centralized on Funafuti, but all other islands have clinics with trained medical staff.

Cultural life
      The Tuvaluan lifestyle has been Westernized to an extent, but Western-style amenities are few. Only Funafuti has a regular electricity supply; the government publishes a brief news sheet, but there is no newspaper; a few motion pictures are shown, but there is no television; and there is only a single radio station. Most Tuvaluans live in villages of a few hundred people, tend their gardens, and fish from handcrafted canoes. Traditional music and dancing still enjoy a strong following, along with Western forms. Volleyball, football (soccer), and cricket are popular. Tuvaluan life, despite modernization, still rests on a firm traditional base that emphasizes the importance of community consensus and identity.

History
      The first settlers were from Samoa and probably arrived in the 14th century AD. Smaller numbers subsequently arrived from Tonga, the northern Cook Islands, Rotuma, and the Gilbert Islands. Niulakita, the smallest and southernmost island, was uninhabited before European contact; the other islands were settled by the 18th century, giving rise to the name Tuvalu, or “Cluster of Eight.”

      Europeans first discovered the islands in the 16th century through the voyages of Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, but it was only from the 1820s, with visits by whalers and traders, that they were reliably placed on European charts. In 1863 labour recruiters from Peru kidnapped some 400 people, mostly from Nukulaelae and Funafuti, reducing the population of the group to less than 2,500. A few were later recruited for plantations in Queensland, Australia, as well as in Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii. Concern over labour recruiting and a desire for protection helps to explain the enthusiastic response to Samoan pastors of the London Missionary (mission) Society who arrived in the 1860s. By 1900, Protestant Christianity was firmly established.

      With imperial expansion the group, then known as the Ellice Islands, became a British (British Empire) protectorate in 1892 and part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in 1916. There was a gradual expansion of government services, but most administration was through island governments supervised by a single district officer based in Funafuti. Ellice Islanders sought education and employment at the colonial capital in the Gilbert group or in the phosphate industry at Banaba or Nauru. During World War II, U.S. forces were based on Nanumea, Nukufetau, and Funafuti, but hostilities did not reach the group.

      From the 1960s, racial tension and rivalries over employment emerged between Gilbertese and Ellice Islanders. Ellice Islanders' demands for secession resulted in a referendum in 1974, transition to separate colonial status between October 1975 and January 1976, and independence as Tuvalu in 1978. After independence the main priorities were to establish the infrastructure for a separate, if small, nation, and to seek foreign assistance to match political independence with economic viability.

Barrie K. Macdonald

Additional Reading
Australian Museum, Sydney, The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice Group: Its Zoology, Botany, Ethnology, and General Structure Based on Collections Made by Mr. Charles Hedley, 10 pt. (1896–1900), is a broad scientific survey. See also Anne Chambers, Nanumea Report: A Socio-Economic Study of Nanumea Atoll, Tuvalu (1975, reissued as Nanumea, 1984); and Donald Gilbert Kennedy, Field Notes on the Culture of Vaitupu, Ellice Islands (1931). Hugh Laracy (ed.), Tuvalu: A History (1983), provides an introduction. Barrie Macdonald, Cinderellas of the Empire: Towards a History of Kiribati and Tuvalu (1982), is comprehensive.

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Universalium. 2010.

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