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Flag of Tuvalu

Tuvalu (/tˈvɑːl/ (About this sound listen) 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 Nanumea

Nanumea is the northwesternmost atoll of the nation of Tuvalu with a population of about 550 in 2012. Nanumea is a classic atoll, a series of low islets sitting on a coral reef shelf surrounding a lagoon. About 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) long by 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) wide in overall size, the dry land area is about 3.9 square kilometres (1.5 sq mi).

According to the mythical history of Nanumea a warrior named Tefolaha was the first ancestor. Some accounts say Tefolaha and his crew came from Tonga, others name Samoa. Tefolaha, found the island of Nanumea populated by two women, Pai and Vau, whom it was believed had formed it from baskets of sand. Tefolaha wagered with them for the island and eventually won it through trickery, whereupon Pai and Vau departed. (More...)

Selected biography

Dr. Nese Ituaso-Conway (MBBS (Fiji School of Medicine); MPH (University of Hawaii)) is the Director of Public Health at Princess Margaret Hospital (Funafuti), which operates satellite health clinics in each of the 9 Islands of Tuvalu. She has been appointed as a member of international committees that co-ordinate health responses in Pacific island nations, including the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN), which operates under the joint auspices of the Secretariat of Pacific Communities (SPC) and the WHO; the Pacific Response Fund Committee (PRFC), which is a multi-donor funding mechanism that supports national and regional HIV strategies. Dr Ituaso-Conway is the National TB Programme Manager in Tuvalu for the SPC Tuberculosis Control Section, which is part of the SPC Public Health Division (PHD).


Selected picture

Canoe carving on Nanumea

Outrigger canoes are still constructed today such as this one being carved on Nanumea.

During pre-European-contact times there was frequent canoe voyaging between the islands as Polynesian navigation skills are recognised to have allowed deliberate journeys on double-hull sailing canoes or outrigger canoes. Eight of the nine islands of Tuvalu were inhabited; thus the name,

Tuvalu, means "eight standing together" in Tuvaluan.

Did you know?

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

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