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You are in:  Nations > Oceania > Tuvalu
Tuvalu*Tuvalu flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Funafuti
Area: 26 sq km; 10 sq miles
Population: 10,730 (2000 Estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 45 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 55 per cent (1998 Estimate)


Exports: Copra, handicrafts, footwear, clothing

Industry: Fishing, tourism, copra

Agriculture: Principal products: coconuts, fruits, fish, poultry, pigs

Currency: 1 Tuvaluan dollar ($T) or 1 Australian dollar ($A), consisting of 100 cents

Natural resources: Fish


The people

Ethnic: Polynesian 96 per cent, Other 4 per cent

Language: Tuvaluan (official), English (official). Languages of Southeast Asia and Oceania, English and Tuvaluan are Tuvalu's official languages and are taught in all schools. On a daily basis, however, most people speak Tuvaluan. It is related to several languages in the region, especially Samoan. Its written form uses the Latin alphabet. Each island has its own dialect and most Tuvaluans understand all the dialects. The Vaitupu dialect is most often used between islands.

Religion: Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97.0 per cent, Seventh-day Adventist 1.4 per cent, Baha'i 1.0 per cent, other 0.6 per cent. Prior to the introduction of Christianity, Tuvaluans worshipped a number of island gods, placating them with offerings of food and possessions. Powerful priests called 'vaka atua' acted as intermediaries between the people and the gods and presided over special ceremonies.


The history

Independence: 1 October 1978 (from the United Kingdom)

Government: Tuvalu is a democratic sovereign state within the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented by a governor-general, who is appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and who must be a Tuvaluan citizen. The 12 members of the unicameral 'Palamene' (Parliament) are elected and each island is represented, although there are no political parties. The Prime Minister, whom the parliament elects from among its members, is head of Government. All adults may vote from age 18. Local Government is managed through 'fonopule' (elected island councils). The new Tuvaluan national flag was first hoisted on Independence Day (1 October) 1995.

*Cook Islands
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*Solomon Islands
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