Tuvalu Facts

Tuvalu Facts and History


Tuvalu, the former Ellice Islands, is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Australia and Hawaii. It is about 1,100 km north of the Fiji Islands.

The archipelago belongs to Polynesia, which also includes the Cook Islands, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Niue, Pitcairn, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna.

Tuvalu consists of nine island atolls and about 100 widely scattered smaller islands. Tuvalu means “8 islands” in German, as only eight of the nine islands used to be inhabited. The ninth island was not settled by humans until 1949.

Tuvalu is one of the countries that have expanded their budget with the sale of Internet addresses, with the top-level domain “.tv” originating in Tuvalu.

Due to rising sea levels due to global warming, Tuvalu is in danger of sinking into the sea in the next few decades.

Name of the country Tuvalu
Form of government Parliamentary-democratic monarchy in the Commonweal
Geographical location In the Pacific Ocean, between Australia and Hawaii; from 176 ° – 180 ° east longitude and from 6 ° – 11 ° south latitude
National anthem Tuvalu mo te Atua
Population approx. 9,900 (Credit: Countryaah: Tuvalu Population)
Ethnicities Tuvaluans (Polynesians) 91.2%; mixed (Polynesians/Micronesians/ other) 7.2%; Europeans 1% and others 0.6%
Religions Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalists) 97%, Seventh-day Adventists 1.4%, Baha’i 1% and others 0.6%
Languages Tuvaluan and English
Capital Funafuti, with about 5,000 residents
Surface 26 km², spread over nine atolls
Highest mountain The highest point is about 5 m high.
International license plate TUV
Currency Australian dollar (AUD) and Tuvalu dollar
Time difference to CET + 11 h
International phone code + 688
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .tv

Tuvalu: history


Funafuti and Vaitupu

Legend has it that the people of Funafuti came from Samoa by canoe. The forefather, Telematua, came to the island with his two wives Futi (“banana”) and Tupu (“holy, in abundance”).

According to Abbreviationfinder website, the island was named after the woman Futi, Funa is a feminine prefix. After the island of Funafala was settled, Fongafale followed.

Telematua later left his wife Futi on Funafuti in search of more fertile land and fresh water. He discovered Vaitupu, where he left his second wife Tupu. Since then he has alternately spent his time on one of the two islands.

Nukufetau and Nukufetau

According to legend, the first settlers on the island of Nukufetau came from Tonga. It is said that when they went ashore, they saw a Fetau tree. So they called the island of Nukufetau, island of the feta tree.

A short time later they sailed back to Tonga to fetch coconuts and plant them on the sandbank of the newly discovered land. After returning from this trip, they settled in Flae, the western part of the island.

In the course of time the population grew and personalities of extraordinary character developed who were recognized as chiefs.

To defend the islands against pirates, the chiefs divided the tribe into three groups. The chief Fialua became ruler of Lafaga in the east. Tauasa became chief of Motulao in the north. Lagitupu and Laupapa stayed in Fale. Later, after the missionaries arrived, the entire population gathered in Fale before moving to Savave, a small island on the lagoon side of Fale.

The man who married a dolphin

The most common dolphin in Tuvalu is the Bottlenose Dolphin. He plays an important role in a legend of Niutao Island.

This is the story of a young man who marries a dolphin. The man owned a coconut plantation. One morning he discovered that some of the coconut trees had been pruned. A few weeks later the same thing happened again. The man then tried to find the culprit, but he did not succeed.

A few weeks later the same thing happened again. But this time the man noticed that it was a full moon. At the next full moon he hid in his plantation. As he waited, he saw the moon rise from the horizon and heard the voices of young women and men. They marched towards the plantation and began to prune the young leaves of the coconut trees (these leaves are used to braid dance skirts).

The man started and yelled at her. These fled towards the sea. The man chased her and snatched a young woman. The others jumped into the sea and turned into dolphins as they submerged in the waves.

The man took the woman to his village and married her. The couple had two sons. One day when the woman was very sick, she asked her husband to visit her family at sea. She said goodbye to her children and headed for the waves. Suddenly she turned into a dolphin and swam towards the school of dolphins that was waiting for her in the sea.

The two sons grew up to be strong, intelligent men and became the best fishermen on the island because their mother had taught them how to catch fish.

Early history

The islands were colonized by Polynesians in AD 300-500.

The Europeans are coming

The first European who verifiably saw the islands near Nui was the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana de Neira (1541-1595). The islands became a British protectorate along with Kiribati in 1892. At the time, they were called Ellice Islands and Gilbert Islands. These became a British colony in 1916.

After a referendum, the islands separated from Kiribati on January 1, 1975.

On October 1, 1978, the archipelago received its independence under the name Tuvalu. In 2000 Tuvalu became a member of the United Nations.


From 1860 Samoi priests from the Royal Mission Society London came to Tuvalu. They Christianized the islands within a few years.

History of science

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) visited the Pacific in 1835-1836. At that time it was discussed how the coral atolls were formed.

In 1886 the Royal Society of London sent an expedition to the islands of Funafuti in Tuvalu, which carried out a bore to a depth of 33 m. This was followed by further drilling from other expeditions that reached a depth of up to 350 m. Numerous legends surround these drill holes to this day. They can still be viewed today at David’s Drill site.


In 1999 Tuvalu was the third poorest country in the world with a population of 11,000. The island became wealthy overnight through the sale of the top-level domain “.tv”. But with wealth came the fear of ruin. Tuvalu, which is only a few meters above sea level on average, is one of the first states that would sink into the sea if the sea level rose. Some scientists suspect that this scenario will occur in 15 to 20 years. The harbingers of such a flood are already noticeable through puddles and small ponds that are gradually forming.

But Tuvalu is still investing in the future, with night clubs, restaurants and streets built. Of the $ 40 million the state received for the tv address, $ 10 million was spent on a 19 km road. The first thing the islanders did was buy cars. But they soon realized the running costs of the cars, which were then simply parked on the roadside.

The island paradise is now characterized by wrecked cars and fat islanders. They quickly changed their eating habits and stopped moving on foot or by bike, which is a reasonable mode of transportation given the size of the islands.

At the same time, the population bought a $ 1.5 million a year office at the United Nations to lobby for the Kyoto Protocol.

Tuvalu Facts