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
Population: 10,619 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  30.6% (male 1,656/female 1,569)

15-64 years: 64% (male 3,294/female 3,459)

65 years and over:  5.4% (male 238/female 328) (2011 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: constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy
Telephones – main lines in use: 1,600 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 2,500 (2009)
Airports: 1 (2012)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: no regular military forces; Tuvalu Police Force (2008)
Military expenditures – percent of GDP: NA


Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. The country has no known mineral resources and few exports. 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 the majority 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 $4 million in 2006. 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.