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Tuvalu (officially English: The Tuvalu Islands) is
the fourth smallest country in the world with a land
area of 26 km² after the Vatican, Monaco and Nauru.
The sea area belonging to the nine atolls is 1.3 million
square kilometers. Tuvalu, also known as the Ellice
Islands, is about 3,000 km northeast of Australia. The
nine atolls are called Nanumea, Niutao, Nanumanga, Nui,
Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti, Nukulaelae and Niulakita,
and around 120 small islands also belong to Tuvalu. The
capital Vaiaku is on Funafuti.
Hardly any point on one of the islands rises more
than 3 m above sea level. As a result, like many other
island groups in the Pacific, Tuvalu is threatened by
rising sea levels due to global warming.
Tuvalu has a tropical, humid climate with high
temperatures all year round (27 ˇăC on average). Rain
falls on more than 200 days a year (average 3000 mm per
year), the rainiest months are October to March.
Especially during this time there is a risk of tropical
Flora and fauna
The soils of the atolls are low in nutrients, the
rainwater immediately seeps into the porous limestone
and is therefore collected in cisterns. The vegetation
is correspondingly sparse: in addition to coconut palms,
breadfruit trees, pandanus palms, cassowaries and
imported crops grow on the islands.
The animal world on the islands is just as poor as
the flora. The only wild mammal is the Polynesian rat,
otherwise only domesticated animals (pigs, dogs, cats)
live here. Different types of lizards occur on reptiles.
The underwater world of the coral reefs, on the other
hand, is extremely diverse and species-rich.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 11,500 people live on Tuvalu, 91% of whom are
Polynesians. The population density is high with an
average of 442 residents per square kilometer, more than
half of the people live on the main atoll Funafuti.
Around 2,000 Tuvaluans live abroad (mostly in Nauru ).
Around 97% of the population are Protestants and belong
to the Church of Tuvalu, and there are also smaller
minorities of Catholics and followers of the Baha'i
faith. In addition to English, Tuvalu is spoken, both
languages are official languages. Minorities
communicate in Samoan and Kiribati.
School attendance is compulsory for children from the
age of six, and there is a primary school on each of the
nine atolls. The literacy rate is around 95%. The family
and the village community traditionally play a major
role in social life. Population growth is moderate at
2.5%; life expectancy on the islands is 68 years on
According to the 1978 constitution, Tuvalu is a
parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth. The head of
state is the British monarch Elizabeth II, who is
represented by a governor general (since April 2010
Iakoba Italeli). The government is led by the Prime
Minister elected by Parliament (Enele Sopoaga since
The legislature lies with the unicameral parliament
(Fale i Fono), whose 15 deputies are directly elected
for four years. There are no parties.
The legal system is strongly shaped by British law,
but is supplemented by local common law.
Tuvalu is divided into nine districts, corresponding
to the nine main islands. Each atoll is administered by
a so-called island council, which has decision-making
powers in local matters.
There is almost no mineral resources on Tuvalu,
traditionally the country's economy is based on copra
mining and fishing. There are no precise figures on the
per capita income of the population, Tuvalu is on the
UN's list of the least developed countries worldwide. A
large part of the state budget is financed by
development aid. One of the few sources of income is the
sale of the Tuvalu extension for Internet websites,
".tv", to a media company.
Over three quarters of the population work in
agriculture and fisheries, mainly to cover their own
needs. The main products are copra (obtained from
coconut, including export items), breadfruit, sump taro
and vegetables. Fishing is of great importance for the
food of the population and also for export.
Tuvalu exports copra, fish or fishery products and
simple wood products, especially to Fiji, Australia and
Japan. Items that need to be imported from the same
countries include food, machinery, and fuels. The rare
postage stamps from Tuvalu are popular with collectors
all over the world.
The foreign exchange sources of the future could
include tourism that has hardly been developed to date
(the airport in Funafuti was expanded with EU funds).
Around 95% of the island's total electricity is
generated from solar power.
The main currency is the Australian dollar (= 100
cents), although there is also a Tuvalu dollar.