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 a 12-year period. The agreement was subsequently renegotiated but details were not disclosed.



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

Geographic coordinates

8 00 S, 178 00 E

Map references



total: 26 sq km
land: 26 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

0.1 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


24 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


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


low-lying and narrow coral atolls


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m

Natural resources

fish, coconut (copra)

Land use

agricultural land: 60%
arable land 0%; permanent crops 60%; permanent pasture 0%
forest: 33.3%
other: 6.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

severe tropical storms are usually rare, but in 1997 there were three cyclones; low levels of islands make them 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; 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 increasing ocean temperatures and acidification; Tuvalu is 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 agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

one of the smallest and most remote countries on Earth; six of the nine 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 and Society


10,959 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Tuvaluan(s)
adjective: Tuvaluan

Ethnic groups

Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%


Tuvaluan (official), English (official), Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)


Protestant 98.4% (Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%), Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%

Age structure

0-14 years: 29.32% (male 1,647/female 1,566)
15-24 years: 19.76% (male 1,132/female 1,033)
25-54 years: 36.5% (male 1,989/female 2,011)
55-64 years: 8.66% (male 387/female 562)
65 years and over: 5.77% (male 255/female 377) (2016 est.)

Median age

total: 25.5 years
male: 24.4 years
female: 26.8 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.85% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

23.8 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

8.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-6.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 59.7% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

FUNAFUTI (capital) 6,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.69 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 29.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.5 years
male: 64.3 years
female: 68.8 years (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

16.5% of GDP (2014)

Total fertility rate

2.98 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

30.5% (2007)

Physicians density

1.09 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.3% of population
rural: 97% of population
total: 97.7% of population
urban: 1.7% of population
rural: 3% of population
total: 2.3% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 86.3% of population
rural: 80.2% of population
total: 83.3% of population
urban: 13.7% of population
rural: 19.8% of population
total: 16.7% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

39.6% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

1.6% (2007)

Education expenditures


Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2007 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Tuvalu
local long form: none
local short form: Tuvalu
former: Ellice Islands
note: "tuvalu" means "group of eight" referring to the country's eight traditionally inhabited islands

Government type

parliamentary democracy (House of Assembly) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm


name: Funafuti; note - the capital is an atoll of some 29 islets; administrative offices are in Vaiaku Village on Fongafale Islet
geographic coordinates: 8 31 S, 179 13 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

7 island councils and 1 town council*; Funafuti*, Nanumaga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu


1 October 1978 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 1 October (1978)


previous 1978 (at independence); latest effective 1 October 1986; amended 2007, 2010, 2013 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and local customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes; for a child born abroad, at least one parent must be a citizen of Tuvalu
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: na


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Iakoba TAEIA Italeli (since 16 April 2010)
head of government: Prime Minister Enele SOPOAGA (since 5 August 2013)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on recommendation of the prime minister
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from members of House of Assembly following parliamentary elections
election results: Enele SOPOAGA elected prime minister by House of Assembly; House of Assembly vote count on 4 August 2013 - 8 to 5; note - Willie TELAVI removed as prime minister by the governor general on 1 August 2013

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly or Fale I Fono (15 seats; members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 31 March 2015 (next to be held in 2019)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 15; 12 members reelected

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal is the Fiji Court of Appeal on Fiji Island (consists of the chief justice who visits twice a year); High Court, located on Fiji, consists of the chief justice of Fiji who presides over its sessions
judge selection and term of office: chief justice appointed by the president of Fiji on the advice of the prime minister following consultation with the parliamentary leader of the opposition; justices of the Court of Appeal and puisne judges of the High Court are appointed by the president of Fiji, upon the nomination of the Judicial Service Commission, after consulting with the Cabinet Minister and the committee of the House of Representatives responsible for the administration of justice; the chief justice and justices of Appeal generally required to retire at age 70; puisine judges appointed for not less than 4 years nor more than 7 years with mandatory retirement at age 65
subordinate courts: magistrates' courts; island courts; lands courts

Political parties and leaders

there are no political parties but members of parliament usually align themselves in informal groupings

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Aunese Makoi SIMATI (since 11 January 2013)
chancery: note - Tuvalu does not have an embassy in Washington, D.C.; UN office located at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400D, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 490-0534
FAX: [1] (212) 937-0692

Diplomatic representation from the US

the US does not have an embassy in Tuvalu; the US Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tuvalu

National symbol(s)

maneapa (native meeting house); national colors: light blue, yellow

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 on a blue field symbolizing the nine atolls in the ocean

National anthem

name: "Tuvalu mo te Atua" (Tuvalu for the Almighty)
lyrics/music: Afaese MANOA
note: adopted 1978; the anthem's name is also the nation's motto


Economy - overview

Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. Only eight of the atolls are inhabited. It is one of the smallest countries in the world, with its highest point at 4.6 meters above sea level. The country is iso

The public sector dominates economic activity. Tuvalu has few natural resources, except for its fisheries. Earnings from fish exports and fishing licenses for Tuvalu’s territorial waters are a significant source of government revenue. In 2013, revenue fro

Official aid from foreign development partners has also increased. Tuvalu has substantial assets abroad. The Tuvalu Trust Fund, an international trust fund established in 1987 by development partners, has grown to $141 million in 2013 and is an important

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$39 million (2016 est.)
$37.52 million (2015 est.)
$36.55 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$32 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

4% (2016 est.)
2.6% (2015 est.)
2.2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$3,500 (2016 est.)
$3,400 (2015 est.)
$3,300 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 24.5%
industry: 5.6%
services: 70% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

coconuts; fish



Industrial production growth rate

-26.1% (2012 est.)

Labor force

3,615 (2004 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

note: people make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls and through overseas remittances (mostly from workers in the phosphate industry and sailors)

Unemployment rate


Population below poverty line

26.3% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $42.68 million
expenditures: $32.46 million (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

133.4% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

31.9% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt

41.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
43.1% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.5% (2016 est.)
3.2% (2015 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

10.6% (31 December 2013 est.)
10.6% (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$0 (2014)

Current account balance

-$1 million (2016 est.)
$2 million (2015 est.)


$600,000 (2010 est.)
$1 million (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities

copra, fish


$136.5 million (2013 est.)
$238.6 million (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods

Debt - external


Exchange rates

Tuvaluan dollars or Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.3291 (2015 est.)
1.67 (2014 est.)
1.1094 (2013 est.)
0.97 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 6,137
electrification - total population: 45%
electrification - urban areas: 57%
electrification - rural areas: 32% (2012)

Electricity - production

11.8 million kWh (2011)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2014)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

5,100 kW (2011)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

96% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2014)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2014)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2014)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2014)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2014)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2014)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2014)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2014)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2014)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 18 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 4,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 37 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: serves particular needs for internal communications
domestic: radiotelephone communications between islands
international: country code - 688; international calls can be made by satellite (2015)

Broadcast media

no TV stations; many households use satellite dishes to watch foreign TV stations; 1 government-owned radio station, Radio Tuvalu, includes relays of programming from international broadcasters (2009)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 5,000
percent of population: 42.7% (July 2015 est.)


Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

T2 (2016)


1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)


total: 8 km
paved: 8 km (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 58
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 24, chemical tanker 15, container 1, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 10, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 33 (China 4, Indonesia 1, Maldives 1, Singapore 19, South Korea 1, Turkey 1, Vietnam 6) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Funafuti


Military branches

no regular military forces; Tuvalu Police Force (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international