Background: In 1974, ethnic differences within the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands led the Polynesians of the Ellice Islands to advocate secession from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands. The following year, the Ellis Islands became a separate British colony of Tuvalu. Independence was granted in 1978. In 2000, Tuvalu entered into a contract to lease the “.tv” Internet domain for a royalty of $50 million over 12 years.
Location: Oceania, a group of islands of 9 coral atolls in the South Pacific, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.
Geographical coordinates: 8° 00′ S. latitude, 178° 00′ E
Reference map: Oceania.
Area: total: 26 km2; land surface area: 26 km2; water surface area: 0 km2
Comparative area: 0.1 of the area of Washington, DC.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 24 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: tropical; moderate with easterly trade winds (March to November); strong westerly winds and heavy rains from November to March.
Terrain: very low, flat and narrow coral atolls.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m; highest point: unnamed point 5 m.
Natural resources: fish.
Land use: arable land: 0%; cultivated land: 0%; pasture: 0%; forests and plantations: 0%; others: 100% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: no data.
Natural Hazards: Severe tropical storms are generally rare, but there were three cyclones in 1997; the low altitude of the islands makes them very sensitive to rising sea levels.
Current environmental issues: no freshwater streams or rivers and groundwater, most of the water must be collected by catchment systems (the Japanese government has built a desalination plant and plans to build another); coastal erosion, as sand is used in construction; excessive deforestation used as fuel; damage to coral reefs from the spread of the starfish acanthaster (crown of thorns); Tuvalu is very concerned about rising greenhouse gas emissions, which could lead to sea level changes that threaten to flood the islands.
International agreements on environmental protection: participant: Climate change, Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Protection of the ozone layer, Pollution from ships; signed but not ratified: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 10,991 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 33.28% (male 1,862; female 1,796); 15 to 64 years old: 61.6% (male 3,241; female 3,529); over 65: 5.12% (male 236; female 327) (2001 est.);
Population growth: 1.4% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 21.56 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 7.55 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male/female; under 15: 1.04 male/female; from 15 to 64 years old: 0.92 male/female; over 65: 0.72 male/female; for the general population: 0.94 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 22.65 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 66.65 years; men: 64.52 years; women: 68.88 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 3.09 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of the adult population infected with HIV: no data available.
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Tuvaluan; adjective: referring to the inhabitants of Tuvalu.
Ethnic groups: Polynesian 96%.
Believers: Followers of the Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalists) 97%, Seventh Day Adventists 1.4%, Baha’is 1%, others 0.6%.
Language(s): Tuvaluan, English.
Literacy: definition: no data; for the general population: no data available; men: no data; women: no data.
Common long form: no;
conventional short form: Tuvalu; former: Eplice Islands.
State structure: constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy; discussion of the status of the republic began in 1992. See politicsezine.com to know more about Tuvalu Political System.
Administrative division: no.
Independence: October 1, 1978 (before 1978 – British possession).
National holiday: Independence Day, October 1 (1978).
Constitution: adopted October 1, 1978.
Legal system: no data.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
head of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since February 6, 1952), represented by the Governor General Sir Tomasi PUAPUA (since June 26, 1998);
head of government: Acting Prime Minister Lagitupu TUILIMU (since 8 December 2000); note – Lagitupu TUILMU took office when Prime Minister Yonatana IONATANA (lonatana IONATA-NA) died suddenly of a heart attack on December 8, 2000;
government: the Cabinet is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister; elections: hereditary monarchy; the governor general is appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister; the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are elected from the members of Parliament; elections last held 27 April 1999 (next to be held in 2002); election results: Jonathan IONATANA elected prime minister; percentage of votes in Parliament: no data; Lagitupu TUILMU elected Deputy Prime Minister; percentage of votes in Parliament: no data.
Legislature: unicameral Parliament (Fale I Fono), also called the House of Assembly (12 seats; members are elected by popular vote for 4 years); elections: last held 26-27 March 1998 (next to be held in 2002); election results: percentage of votes: no data; seats: independent 12.
Judiciary: High Court (Chief of the Court travels twice a year to attend sessions of the High Court; decisions can be appealed to the Court of Appeal in Fiji); 8 island courts, whose jurisdiction is limited.
Political Parties and Leaders: There are no political parties, but MPs tend to form informal groupings.
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: LSR, AsDB, C, ESCAP, IFRCS (associate), Intelsat (nonsignatory user), 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.
US Diplomatic Mission: The US does not have an embassy in Tuvalu; the US Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tuvalu.
Flag description: blue with the flag of Great Britain in the upper quarter from the hoist side; the other half of the flag depicts a map of the country with 9 yellow five-pointed stars symbolizing the 9 islands.