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(to͞oväl`o͞o), independent Commonwealth nation (2015 est. pop. 11,000), 10 sq mi (26 sq km), composed of nine low coral atolls, formerly known as the Ellice (or Lagoon) Islands, scattered over the W Pacific Ocean. The capital is the atoll of FunafutiFunafuti
, capital and chief atoll of Tuvalu, S Pacific. It comprises 30 islets of a reef 13 mi (21 km) long, with a land area of c.1 sq mi (2.6 sq km). The islet of Fongafale is the most populous part of the atoll; the center of government is there.
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The population is primarily Polynesian and about 98% Protestant; most are members of the Church of Tuvalu, a Congregationalist denomination. Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, and Kiribati (on the island of Nui) are spoken. Subsistence farming and fishing are the mainstays of the economy, especially on the atolls (the outer islands) other than Funafuti. The smallness and remoteness of the islands hinder the development of a tourist industry. The sale of postage stamps and coins accounts for the largest portion of the country's income. Remittances from overseas workers are also important. Other substantial income is received through a trust fund established in 1987 by Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain and also supported by Japan and South Korea. Copra and fish are the main exports; food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, and manufactured goods are imported. The main trading partners are Germany, Fiji, Italy, Japan, and China.

Tuvalu is governed under the constitution of 1978. The monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by the governor-general, is the head of state. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is elected by the Parliament. Members of the 15-seat unicameral Parliament or House of Assembly (Fale I Fono) are popularly elected for four-year terms.


Capt. John Byron visited the islands in 1764 and they were administered by Britain as part of a protectorate (1892–1916) and as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony (1916–74). The colony became self-governing in 1971, and in 1974 the Ellice Islanders voted for separate British dependency status as Tuvalu. They became fully independent in 1978 and in 1979 signed a treaty of friendship with the United States, which recognized Tuvalu's possession of four small islands formerly claimed by the United States. Ionatana Ionatana, prime minister since 1999, died late in 2000; the following year, Faimalaga Luka was elected to succeed him. In 2001 the government requested help from Australia and New Zealand in resettling its citizens if global warming leads to a significant rise in ocean waters; the highest point in the country is about 16 ft (5 m) above sea level. At the end of 2001, Luka lost a confidence vote. Koloa Talake was chosen to succeed him, but he lost his seat in the elections in mid-2002, and Saufatu Sopoanga became prime minister. Sopoanga lost a confidence vote two years later; Maatia Toafa succeeded him. Following the 2006 parliamentary elections, in which all members of the government except Toafa lost their seats, Apisai Ielemia became prime minister. Toafa again became prime minister following the 2010 elections, but his government lost a confidence vote that December; Willy Telavi was elected to succeed him. In 2013, Telavi was ousted, and Enele Sopoaga became prime minister. A tropical cyclone in Mar., 2015, caused significant damage to many of the country's atolls. Elections in 2019 led to Sopoaga being replaced as prime minister by Kausea Natano.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(until 1975, Ellice Islands), a state consisting of a group of atolls in the western Pacific Ocean, in Polynesia. Area, 24 sq km. Population, about 10,000 (1979). Tuvalu consists of nine low-lying coral atolls that extend for more than 600 km. The islands, which have coconut-palm and banana plantations, export copra. The capital is the city of Funafuti.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Tuvalu

Capital city: Funafuti

Internet country code: .tv

Flag description: Light blue with the flag of the United Kingdom 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

Geographical description: Oceania, island group consist­ing of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia

Total area: 10 sq. mi. (26 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March)

Nationality: noun: Tuvaluan(s); adjective: Tuvaluan

Population: 11,992 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%

Languages spoken: Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)

Religions: Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Sev­enth-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha’i 1%, other 0.6%

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Good Friday - Easter MondayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a country in the SW Pacific, comprising a group of nine coral islands: established as a British protectorate in 1892. From 1915 until 1975 the islands formed part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands; achieved full independence in 1978; a member of the Commonwealth (formerly a special member not represented at all meetings, until 2000). Languages: English and Tuvaluan. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: Australian dollar; Tuvalu dollars are also used. Capital: Funafuti. Pop.: 11 000 (2003 est.). Area: 26 sq. km (10 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Reverend Elisala Selu, a thoughtful, soft-spoken man who has worked second jobs to avoid burdening his congregants, explains that Tuvaluan politicians are reluctant to encourage the mass evacuation of their voting base, and so the church, wanting people to be prepared, has taken matters into its own hands.
Johnny's father spoke again in Tuvaluan. "Thank you for having me," repeated Johnny.
'The rights of Tuvaluans to continue living in Tuvalu--and the value of Tuvaluan identity and culture to Tuvaluans and the world--means that there needs to be far greater effort at implementing adaptation in the islands to sustain the population and their way of life.
In Tuvaluan the verb fakatau 'compete, exchange' is used similarly (Besnier 2000) and in other Oceanic languages we find expressions with the basic meaning 'return', 'again'.
(In 2000, Tuvalu leased its Internet domain name ".tv" for a promised $50 million in royalties, but the dot-com money has been slow to materialize.) And residents are not united behind the idea, perhaps in part because the aggressive strategy also runs counter to the Tuvaluan way of getting along with your neighbor.
New Zealand's Tuvaluan population has risen by 500% in the past decade due to fear that rising sea levels could flood their low-lying Pacific island nation, local media reported Wednesday.
The People's Lawyer is surprisingly funny and full of anecdotes from Ell's time with the Tuvaluan people.
A group of Tuvaluan nurses also made a strong bid to form an association and join the PNS.
.82 .77 .70 .65 Fijian .85 .79 .82 .83 Niuean .82 .76 .70 .66 Samoan .92 .90 .86 .83 Tokelauan .95 .91 .86 .83 Tongan .94 .92 .90 .88 Tuvaluan -- .97 .96 .93 No Religion Year 1996 2001 2006 2013 Cook Is.