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Tuvalu : The World Factbook

Original from The World Factbook at


Background: :: 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. ::


Location: :: Oceania, island group consisting of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates: :: 8 00 S, 178 00 E
Map references: :: Oceania
Area: :: total: 26 sq km country comparison to the world: 238 land: 26 sq km water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: :: 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: :: 0 km
Coastline: :: 24 km
Maritime claims: :: territorial sea: 12 nm contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: :: tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March)
Terrain: :: low-lying and narrow coral atolls
Elevation extremes: :: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: unnamed location 5 m
Natural resources: :: fish
Land use: :: arable land: 0% permanent crops: 60% other: 40% (2011)
Irrigated land: :: NA
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 (the Japanese Government has built one desalination plant and plans to build one other); 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 the spread of the Crown of Thorns starfish; 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

Nationality: :: noun: Tuvaluan(s) adjective: Tuvaluan
Ethnic groups: :: Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%
Languages: :: Tuvaluan (official), English (official), Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
Religions: :: Protestant 98.4% (Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%), Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%
Population: :: 10,698 (July 2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 224
Age structure: :: 0-14 years: 29.8% (male 1,637/female 1,555) 15-24 years: 20.9% (male 1,197/female 1,044) 25-54 years: 35.8% (male 1,846/female 1,985) 55-64 years: 8.1% (male 352/female 514) 65 years and over: 5.3% (male 238/female 330) (2013 est.)
Median age: :: total: 24.6 years male: 23.4 years female: 26.3 years (2013 est.)
Population growth rate: :: 0.77% (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 138
Birth rate: :: 23.56 births/1,000 population (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 71
Death rate: :: 8.97 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 67
Net migration rate: :: -6.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 199
Urbanization: :: urban population: 50% of total population (2010) rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Sex ratio: :: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female 0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-24 years: 1.17 male(s)/female 25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female 55-64 years: 0.71 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2013 est.)
Infant mortality rate: :: total: 32.61 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 67 male: 35.45 deaths/1,000 live births female: 29.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: :: total population: 65.47 years country comparison to the world: 171 male: 63.36 years female: 67.67 years (2013 est.)
Total fertility rate: :: 3.06 children born/woman (2013 est.) country comparison to the world: 56
Contraceptive prevalence rate: :: 30.5% (2007)
Health expenditures: :: 17.5% of GDP (2010) country comparison to the world: 3
Physicians density: :: 0.64 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
Hospital bed density: :: 5.56 beds/1,000 population (2001)
Drinking water source: :: improved: urban: 98% of population rural: 97% of population total: 98% of population unimproved: urban: 2% of population rural: 3% of population total: 2% of population (2010 est.)
Sanitation facility access: :: improved: urban: 88% of population rural: 81% of population total: 85% of population unimproved: urban: 12% of population rural: 19% of population total: 15% of population (2010 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: :: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: :: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: :: NA
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: :: 1.6% (2007) country comparison to the world: 123
Education expenditures: :: NA
Literacy: :: NA
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): :: total: 11 years male: 10 years female: 11 years (2001) ::


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 and a Commonwealth realm
Capital: :: name: Funafuti geographic coordinates: 8 31 S, 179 13 E time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) note: administrative offices are in Vaiaku Village on Fongafale Islet
Administrative divisions: :: 7 island councils and 1 town council*; Funafuti*, Nanumaga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu
Independence: :: 1 October 1978 (from the UK)
National holiday: :: Independence Day, 1 October (1978)
Constitution: :: 1 October 1978
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
Suffrage: :: 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 May 2010) head of government: Prime Minister Enele SOPOAGA (since 5 August 2013) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from the members of parliament following parliamentary elections election results: Willie TELAVI removed as prime minister by the governor-general on 1 August 2013; Enele SOPOAGA elected 4 August 2013 in a 8 to 5 vote by the House of Assembly
Legislative branch: :: unicameral Parliament or Fale I Fono, also called House of Assembly (15 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held on 16 September 2010 (next to be held in 2014) election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 15; 10 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: :: none
International organization participation: :: ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, FAO, IBRD, IDA, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO
Diplomatic representation in the US: :: chief of mission: Ambassador Aunese Makoi SIMATI 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
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. The country has no known mineral resources and few exports and is almost entirely dependent upon imported food and fuel. Subsistence farming and fishing are the primary economic activities. Fewer than 1,000 tourists, on average, visit Tuvalu annually. Job opportunities are scarce and public sector workers make up most of those employed. About 15% of the adult male population work as seamen on merchant ships abroad, and remittances are a vital source of income contributing around $2 million in 2007. Substantial income is received annually from the Tuvalu Trust Fund (TTF) an international trust fund established in 1987 by Australia, NZ, and the UK and supported also by Japan and South Korea. Thanks to wise investments and conservative withdrawals, this fund grew from an initial $17 million to an estimated value of $77 million in 2006. The TTF contributed nearly $9 million towards the government budget in 2006 and is an important cushion for meeting shortfalls in the government's budget. The US Government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu because of payments from a 1988 treaty on fisheries. In an effort to ensure financial stability and sustainability, the government is pursuing public sector reforms, including privatization of some government functions and personnel cuts. Tuvalu also derives royalties from the lease of its ".tv" Internet domain name with revenue of more than $2 million in 2006. A minor source of government revenue comes from the sale of stamps and coins. With merchandise exports only a fraction of merchandise imports, continued reliance must be placed on fishing and telecommunications license fees, remittances from overseas workers, official transfers, and income from overseas investments. Growing income disparities and the vulnerability of the country to climatic change are among leading concerns for the nation.
GDP (purchasing power parity): :: $37.61 million (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 226 $37.25 million (2011 est.) $36.98 million (2010 est.) note: data are in 2012 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): :: $37 million (2012 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: :: 1.2% (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 157 1.1% (2011 est.) -2.9% (2010 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): :: $3,400 (2012 est.) country comparison to the world: 173 $3,400 (2011 est.) $3,300 (2010 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin: :: agriculture: 16.6% industry: 27.2% services: 56.2% (2002)
Agriculture - products: :: coconuts; fish
Industries: :: fishing, tourism, copra
Industrial production growth rate: :: NA%
Labor force: :: 3,615 (2004 est.) country comparison to the world: 224
Labor force - by occupation: :: note: people make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls and from wages sent home by those abroad (mostly workers in the phosphate industry and sailors)
Unemployment rate: :: NA%
Population below poverty line: :: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: :: lowest 10%: NA% highest 10%: NA%
Budget: :: revenues: $21.54 million expenditures: $23.05 million (2006)
Taxes and other revenues: :: 58.2% of GDP (2006) country comparison to the world: 7
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): :: -4.1% of GDP (2006) country comparison to the world: 147
Fiscal year: :: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): :: 3.8% (2006 est.) country comparison to the world: 119
Current account balance: :: -$7.7 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 59 -$11.68 million (2003)
Exports: :: $600,000 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 218 $1 million (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities: :: copra, fish
Imports: :: $16.5 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 221 $12.91 million (2005)
Imports - commodities: :: food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods
Debt - external: :: $NA
Exchange rates: :: Tuvaluan dollars or Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar - 0.9658 (2011) 1.67 (2011 est.) 1.67 (2010) 1.2822 (2009) 1.2059 (2008) ::


Telephones - main lines in use: :: 1,400 (2011) country comparison to the world: 219
Telephones - mobile cellular: :: 2,100 (2011) country comparison to the world: 216
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 (2007)
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: :: .tv
Internet hosts: :: 145,158 (2012) country comparison to the world: 80
Internet users: :: 4,200 (2008) country comparison to the world: 206 ::


Airports: :: 1 (2013) country comparison to the world: 235
Airports - with unpaved runways: :: total: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
Roadways: :: total: 8 km country comparison to the world: 222 paved: 8 km (2002)
Merchant marine: :: total: 58 country comparison to the world: 67 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: :: Funafuti ::


Military branches: :: no regular military forces; Tuvalu Police Force (2012)
Manpower fit for military service: :: males age 16-49: 2,021 females age 16-49: 2,026 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: :: male: 119 female: 111 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures: :: NA ::

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: :: none ::