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Flag of Tuvalu

Tuvalu (/tˈvɑːl/ too-VAH-loo or /ˈtvəl/ TOO-və-loo), formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. It comprises three reef islands and six true atolls spread out between the latitude of to 10° south and longitude of 176° to 180°, west of the International Date Line. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. Tuvalu has a population of about 10,837 people (2012). The total land area of the islands of Tuvalu is 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi).

The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesians. The pattern of settlement that is believed to have occurred is that the Polynesians spread out from Samoa and Tonga into the Tuvaluan islands, with Tuvalu providing a stepping stone to migration into the Polynesian Outlier communities in Melanesia and Micronesia.

In 1568 Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña was the first European to sail through the archipelago. In 1568 during his first voyage he sighted Nui and during his second voyage in 1595 he sailed past Niulakita. In 1819 the island of Funafuti was named Ellice's Island; the name Ellice was applied to all nine islands. The islands were declared a British Protectorate by Captain Gibson of HMS Curacoa in 1892; then administered as part of the British Western Pacific Territories; and from 1916 to 1974 as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony.

The result of the Ellice Islands self-determination referendum, 1974 was that the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony ceased to exist on 1 January 1976 and the separate British colonies of Kiribati and Tuvalu came into existence. Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978. On 17 September 2000 Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.

Selected article

NASA orbital photo of Funafuti Atoll

The Funafuti Conservation Area is a marine conservation area created in 1999 that covers 33 square kilometers (12.74 square miles) of ocean, reef, lagoon and motu (islets) on the western side of Funafuti atoll, south of Tepuka islet (highlighted on photo).

The islets are nesting sites for the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Fualopa islet hosts a breeding colony of black noddy (Anous minutus). The boundaries of the Funafuti Conservation Area encompass about 20 percent of the total coral reef area of Funafuti lagoon and 40% of the remaining native broadleaf forest. (More...)

Selected biography

Puakena Boreham is a medical practitioner who became a Tuvaluan politician when she was elected to represent Nui in the Tuvaluan general election, 2015. Dr Boreham is the third woman to be elected to the Parliament of Tuvalu. She was appointed as the Minister of Works and Natural Resources in August 2016.

Dr Boreham studied at the Fiji School of Medicine and graduated in 1998. She has worked for the Tuvaluan Ministry of Health at the Princess Margaret Hospital as an anaesthetist and as the Medical Superintendent.


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A Tuvaluan meal

The cuisine of Tuvalu is based on the staple of coconut and the many species of fish found in the ocean and the lagoons of the atolls of Tuvalu. Pulaka, (Cyrtosperma merkusii), or swamp taro, is an important source of carbohydrates. Rice now forms an important part of the diet. Coconut is used in different forms with coconut water, coconut milk and the flesh of the coconut being used to flavour dishes. Various desserts made on the islands include coconut and coconut milk, instead of animal milk.

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  • A traditional sport played in Tuvalu is kilikiti, which is similar to cricket.

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