Tuvalu is one of the smallest countries in the world. Formally know as Ellice Islands it is a country in Polynesia. With just a population of 11,192, it is also one of the least visited countries in the world.
Tuvalu is the fourth-smallest country in the world which makes it larger than only the Vatican City, Monaco, and Nauru.
Here is a list of some interesting and amazing facts about Tuvalu which will surely amaze you!
Fact #1 Location
Tuvalu is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, situated in Oceania(a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia) with a total land area of just 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi). It is almost in the midway between Hawaii and Australia and north of Fiji.
Tuvalu lies southeast of Nauru, south of Kiribati, west of Tokelau, northwest of Samoa and Wallis and Futuna. It is situated 5,067 km (3148mi) northeast of Australia and lies east-northeast of the Solomon Islands.
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Fact #2 Geography
Tuvalu is composed of nine small coral islands that are scattered from northwest to southeast over a distance of some 676 km (420 miles).
It is a volcanic archipelago and consists of three reef islands Nanumanga, Niutao and Niulakita and six true atolls Funafuti, Nanumea, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae and Vaitupu.
Eight of the nine islands of Tuvalu were inhabited; thus the name, Tuvalu, means “eight standing together” in Tuvaluan.
All the islands are low-lying and most of these are just 4 to 5 metres above the sea level. There are no rivers or rain catchment areas in the island. Wells are the only source of freshwater.
Rainfall averages 100 inches (2,500 mm) in the north and 125 inches (3,175 mm) in the south.
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Fact #3 Funafuti Capital of Tuvalu
Funafuti is the capital of Tuvalu and it is also the largest atoll which comprises of numerous islets. It is the most populated atoll with a population of 6025 people, which accounts for 56.6 per cent of Tuvalu’s population.
Funafuti is the centre of government and commerce. The only international airport “Funafuti International Airport” is also located here.
The capital of Tuvalu is sometimes given as Fongafale or Vaiaku, but the entire atoll of Funafuti is officially the capital since it comprises a single local government.
Fact #4 People
The population of Tavalu is 11,192 as per the most recent census in 2017. 96% of its population belongs to Polynesian ethnicity and approximately 4% of the population is Micronesian
Tuvaluan and English are the national languages of Tuvalu. The Tuvaluan language was borrowed from the Samoan language.
A language very similar to Gilbertese is also spoken on Nui. Parliament and official functions are conducted in the Tuvaluan language.
About 10 per cent of the population lives overseas, either pursuing education, working in the Nauru phosphate industry, or working on merchant ships.
The vast majority of the population belongs to the Church of Tuvalu.
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Fact #5 Tourism
As one of the smallest and most remote nations in the world, this unspoiled corner of the Pacific offers a peaceful, and non-commercialized environment that is ideal for rest and relaxation.
The spectacular marine environment consisting of a vast expanse of ocean interspersed with atolls, magnificent lagoons, coral reefs and small islands all provide a unique South Seas ambience.
Tuvalu has the world’s most liberal visa policy, but due to the country’s remoteness, tourism is not significant. Tuvalu is the least visited country in the world with just about 2,000 tourists annually.
The main island of Funafuti is the focus of travellers and is the only island that has hotel facilities. Ecotourism is a motivation of travellers to Tuvalu. The Funafuti Conservation Area consists of 12.74 square miles (33.00 square kilometres) of ocean, reef, lagoon, channel and six uninhabited islets.
Checkout Tuvalu’s official Tourism website for more details: Timeless Tuvalu
Fact #6 Tuvalu does not accept Credit Cards and has no ATMs
In Tuvalu, credit cards are not accepted and there are no ATMs anywhere.
The Tuvaluan dollar (TVD) is the currency of Tuvalu.
Tuvalu has never had banknotes of its own and has been issuing coins since 1976.
However, the Tuvaluan Dollar is not an independent currency. The Australian Dollar has been the official currency of Tuvalu since 1966. The Tuvaluan Dollar is just a variation of the Australian Dollar and uses the currency code of TVD.
Tuvalu does not have a monetary authority or central bank and the National Bank of Tuvalu is the only bank in Tuvalu which performs some monetary functions for the government, including the holding of government accounts and foreign assets
Fact #7 Culture
Most Tuvaluans live in villages but their lifestyle is westernized to some extent. Traditional music and dancing still enjoy a strong following, along with Western forms.
Fakaseasea, Fakanau and Fatele are traditional form of dances. The fatele, in its modern form, is performed at community events and to celebrate leaders and other prominent individuals.
The women use cowrie and other shells in traditional handicrafts. Crochet (kolose) is one of the art forms practised by Tuvaluan women.
The traditional buildings of Tuvalu used plants and trees from the native broadleaf forest.
Tuvaluan life, despite modernization, still rests on a firm traditional base that emphasizes the importance of community consensus and identity.
Fact #8 Cuisine of Tuvalu
The traditional foods eaten in Tuvalu are pulaka, taro, bananas, breadfruit and coconut. Tuvaluans also eat seafood, including coconut crab and fish.
Coconut is used for its juice, to make other beverages and to improve the taste of some dishes.
Another traditional food source is seabirds like taketake or black noddy and akiaki or white tern, with pork being eaten mostly at fateles.
Flying fish are also caught as a source of food; and as an exciting activity, using a boat, a butterfly net and a spotlight to attract the flying fish.
Facts #9 Impacts of Climate Change
Tuvalu could be one of the first nations to experience the effects of sea levels raised. Not only could parts of the island be flooded but the rising saltwater table could also destroy deep-rooted food crops such as coconut, pulaka, and taro
Recent climate changes are dangerous in Tuvalu since the average height of the islands is less than 2 metres (6.6 ft) above sea level, with the highest point of Niulakita being about 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level.
Even the highest elevations areas are prone to overtopping in tropical cyclones, such as occurred with Cyclone Bebe. In March 2015 the storm surge created by Cyclone Pam resulted in waves of 3 to 5 metres (9.8 to 16.4 ft) breaking over the reef of the outer islands and caused a lot of damage to houses, crops and infrastructure.
It is also affected by perigean spring tide events or king tides, which raise the sea level higher than normal high tide. The highest peak tide recorded by the Tuvalu Meteorological Service was 3.4 metres (11 ft) on 24 February 2006 and again on 19 February 2015.
As a result of historical sea-level rise, the king tide events lead to flooding of low-lying areas, which is compounded when sea levels are further raised by La Niña effects or local storms and waves.
In the future, sea-level rise may threaten to submerge the nation entirely as it is estimated that a sea-level rise of 20–40 centimetres (7.9–15.7 inches) in the next 100 years could make Tuvalu uninhabitable.
Fact #10 History
Europeans first discovered the islands in the 16th century. On 16 January 1568, Álvaro de Mendaña from Spain sailed past Nui and charted it as Isla de Jesús meaning “Island of Jesus”. During his second voyage across the Pacific, he passed Niulakita on 29 August 1595, which he named La Solitaria.
During late 19th century, the islands came into Britain’s influence and the Ellice Islands was declared a British protectorate by Captain Gibson in 1892 and part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in 1916.
During World War II, U.S. forces were based on Nanumea, Nukufetau, and Funafuti to fight against Imperial Japanese Navy. After the war, the military airfield on Funafuti was developed into Funafuti International Airport.
In 1974 a referendum was held to determine whether the Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands should each have their administration.
Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978. On 5 September 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.
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Some More Random Fun Facts about Tuvalu
- Each star in the flag of Tuvalu represents one island in the country and the arrangement of stars is geographically correct.
- Tuvalu has the second-lowest maximum elevation of any country after the Maldives.
- Tuvalu has given its “.tv” Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) on lease and this country-code domain extension has helped Tuvalu in the transformation of its GDP. The commercialisation of its “.tv” Internet domain name is one of the major sources of its income
- Kilikiti is the traditional sport played in Tuvalu. It is similar to cricket.
- Ano is another popular sport played in Tuvalu. It is a localised version of volleyball and is played with two hard balls made from pandanus leaves. These balls are volleyed at great speed with the team members trying to stop the Ano hitting the ground.
- Tuvalu first participated in the Pacific Games in 1978 and in the Commonwealth Games in 1998. Tuvalu entered the Olympic Games for the first time at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, China, with a weightlifter and two athletes in the men’s and women’s 100 metres sprint.
- There are limited transport services in Tuvalu. There are about eight kilometres (5 miles) of roads. The country does not have any railroads.
- Tuvalu experiences two distinct seasons, a wet season from November to April and a dry season from May to October.
- During October to March, it experiences westerly gales and heavy rain and this period is known as Tau-o-lalo.
- Tuvalu has little seasonal variations and the climate remains hot and humid with an annual temperature of 30 degrees Celsius (86° Fahrenheit).
- Funafuti International Airport is somewhat unconventional due to limited space on the island, the runway is used as a common area for sporting and social activities when it is not in use. Sirens sound when a plane is about to land, warning residents to stay off the runway.