Reference > World Factbook, 2008
  The World Factbook.  2008.
Flag of Tuvalu                                Map of Tuvalu
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
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:very 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: 66.67%
other: 33.33% (2005)
Irrigated land:NA
Natural hazards:severe tropical storms are usually rare, but, in 1997, there were three cyclones; low level 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 9 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
Population:11,992 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 29.8% (male 1,821/female 1,752)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 3,808/female 4,006)
65 years and over: 5% (male 227/female 378) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 24.9 years
male: 23.9 years
female: 26.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:1.543% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:22.43 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:7 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.951 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.601 male(s)/female
total population: 0.954 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 18.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.64 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 68.63 years
male: 66.38 years
female: 70.99 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:2.96 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:NA
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:NA
Nationality:noun: Tuvaluan(s)
adjective: Tuvaluan
Ethnic groups:Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%
Religions:Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%
Languages:Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
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
Capital:name: Funafuti
geographic coordinates: 8 30 S, 179 12 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: administrative offices are located in Vaiaku Village on Fongafale Islet
Administrative divisions:none
Independence:1 October 1978 (from UK)
National holiday:Independence Day, 1 October (1978)
Constitution:1 October 1978
Legal system:NA
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Filoimea TELITO (since 15 April 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Apisai IELEMIA (since 14 August 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: the monarch 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; election last held 14 August 2006 (next to be held following parliamentary elections in 2010)
election results: Apisai IELEMIA elected Prime Minister in a Parliamentary election on 14 August 2006
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 3 August 2006 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 15
Judicial branch:High Court (a chief justice visits twice a year to preside over its sessions; its rulings can be appealed to the Court of Appeal in Fiji); eight Island Courts (with limited jurisdiction)
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, C, FAO, IFRCS (observer), IMO, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO
Diplomatic representation in the US:Tuvalu does not have an embassy in the US - the country's only diplomatic post is in Fiji - Tuvalu does, however, have a UN office located at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400D, New York, NY 10017, telephone: [1] (212) 490-0534
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 symbolizing the nine islands
Economy—overview: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. Government revenues largely come from the sale of stamps and coins and remittances from seamen on merchant ships abroad. Substantial income is received annually from 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 over $35 million in 1999. The US Government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu because of payments from a 1988 treaty on fisheries. In an effort to reduce its dependence on foreign aid, the government is pursuing public sector reforms, including privatization of some government functions and personnel cuts of up to 7%. Tuvalu derives around $1.5 million per year from the lease of its ".tv" Internet domain name. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$14.94 million (2002 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$14.94 million (2002)
GDP—real growth rate:1.2% (2002 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$1,600 (2002 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 16.6%
industry: 27.2%
services: 56.2% (2002)
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 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%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):3.9% (2005 est.)
Budget:revenues: $22.78 million
expenditures: $14.23 million (2002)
Agriculture—products:coconuts; fish
Industries:fishing, tourism, copra
Industrial production growth rate:NA%
Current account balance:$2.323 million (1998)
Exports:$1 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports—commodities:copra, fish
Exports—partners:Germany 60.5%, Italy 20.1%, Fiji 6.9% (2006)
Imports:$9.186 million c.i.f. (2004 est.)
Imports—commodities:food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods
Imports—partners:Fiji 46.1%, Japan 18.9%, China 18.2%, Australia 7.7%, NZ 4.1% (2006)
Economic aid—recipient:$13 million; note - major donors are Australia, Japan, and the US (1999 est.)
Currency (code):Australian dollar (AUD); note - there is also a Tuvaluan dollar
Exchange rates:Tuvaluan dollars or Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.2137 (2007), 1.3285 (2006), 1.3095 (2005), 1.3598 (2004), 1.5419 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
Telephones—main lines in use:900 (2005)
Telephones—mobile cellular:1,300 (2005)
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
Radio broadcast stations:AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (2004)
Television broadcast stations:0 (2004)
Internet country
Internet hosts:30,200 (2007)
Internet users:1,300 (2002)
Airports:1 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Roadways:total: 8 km
paved: 8 km (2002)
Merchant marine:total: 74 ships (1000 GRT or over) 568,759 GRT/928,697 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 45, chemical tanker 5, container 2, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 13, refrigerated cargo 1, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 61 (China 25, Hong Kong 10, Kenya 1, Maldives 1, Romania 1, Russia 4, Singapore 13, Thailand 1, Turkey 1, US 1, Vietnam 3) (2007)
Ports and terminals:Funafuti
Military branches:no regular military forces; Police Force
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:NA
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