Tuvalu

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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. The agreement was subsequently renegotiated but details were not disclosed.

Geography

Location

Oceania, island group consisting of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way from Hawaii to Australia

Geographic coordinates

8.00° S, 178.00° E

Area 238/257

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

low-lying and narrow coral atolls

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed location 5 m

Natural resources

fish, coconut (copra)

Land use

agricultural land: 60%

arable land 0%; permanent crops 60%; permanent pasture 0%

forest: 33.3%

other: 6.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

NA

Natural hazards

severe tropical storms are usually rare, but in 1997 there were three cyclones; low levels 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; 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 increasing ocean temperatures and acidification; 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 nine 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

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Tuvaluan(s)

adjective: Tuvaluan

Ethnic groups

Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%

Languages

Tuvaluan (official), English (official), Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)

Religions

Protestant 98.4% (Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%), Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%

Population 223/238

10,869 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 29.4% (male 1,639/female 1,557)

15-24 years: 20.27% (male 1,157/female 1,046)

25-54 years: 36.35% (male 1,946/female 2,005)

55-64 years: 8.41% (male 373/female 541)

65 years and over: 5.57% (male 247/female 358) (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 25.2 years

male: 24.1 years

female: 26.6 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 135/233

0.82% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 62/224

23.74 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 71/225

8.74 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 204/222

-6.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 59.7% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

FUNAFUTI (capital) 6,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.11 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.69 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23.5

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate 66/224

total: 30.8 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 33.46 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 28.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 173/224

total population: 66.16 years

male: 64.01 years

female: 68.41 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 54/224

3 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

30.5% (2007)

Health expenditures 4/191

19.7% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.09 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

5.6 beds/1,000 population (2001)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 98.3% of population

rural: 97% of population

total: 97.7% of population

unimproved:

urban: 1.7% of population

rural: 3% of population

total: 2.3% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 86.3% of population

rural: 80.2% of population

total: 83.3% of population

unimproved:

urban: 13.7% of population

rural: 19.8% of population

total: 16.7% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

39.6% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 126/138

1.6% (2007)

Education expenditures

NA

Government

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

parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Funafuti; note - administrative offices are in Vaiaku Village on Fongafale Islet

geographic coordinates: 8.31° S, 179.13° E

time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

7 island councils and 1 town council*; Funafuti*, Nanumaga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu

Independence

1 October 1978 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 1 October (1978)

Constitution

previous 1978 (at independence); latest effective 1 October 1986; amended 2007, 2010, 2013 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and local customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent: yes; for a child born abroad, at least one parent must be a citizen of Tuvalu

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: na

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Iakoba TAEIA Italeli (since 16 April 2010)

head of government: Prime Minister Enele SOPOAGA (since 5 August 2013)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on recommendation of the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from members of House of Assembly following parliamentary elections

election results: Enele SOPOAGA elected prime minister by House of Assembly; House of Assembly vote count on 4 August 2013 - 8 to 5; note - Willie TELAVI removed as prime minister by the governor general on 1 August 2013

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly or Fale I Fono (15 seats; members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 31 March 2015 (next to be held in 2019)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 15; 12 members reelected

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal is the Fiji Court of Appeal on Fiji Island (consists of the chief justice who visits twice a year); High Court, located on Fiji, consists of the chief justice of Fiji who presides over its sessions

judge selection and term of office: chief justice appointed by the president of Fiji on the advice of the prime minister following consultation with the parliamentary leader of the opposition; justices of the Court of Appeal, and puisne judges of the High Court are appointed by the president of Fiji, upon the nomination of the Judicial Service Commission, after consulting with the Cabinet Minister and the committee of the House of Representatives responsible for the administration of justice; the chief justice and justices of Appeal generally required to retire at age 70; puisine judges appointed for not less than 4 years nor more than 7 years with mandatory retirement at age 65

subordinate courts: magistrates' courts; island courts; lands courts

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, AOSIS, C, FAO, IBRD, IDA, IFAD, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

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 on a blue field symbolizing the nine atolls in the ocean

National symbol(s)

maneapa (native meeting house); national colors: light blue, yellow

National anthem

name: "Tuvalu mo te Atua" (Tuvalu for the Almighty)

lyrics/music: Afaese MANOA

note: adopted 1978; the anthem's name is also the nation's motto

Economy

Economy - overview

Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. Only eight of the atolls are inhabited. It is one of the smallest countries in the world, with its highest point at 4.6 meters above sea level. The country is isolated, almost entirely dependent on imports, particularly of food and fuel, and vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels, which pose significant challenges to development. The public sector dominates economic activity. Tuvalu has few natural resources, except for its fisheries. Earnings from fish exports and fishing licenses for Tuvalu’s territorial waters are a significant source of government revenue. In 2013, revenue from fishing licenses doubled and totaled more than 45% of GDP. Official aid from foreign development partners has also increased. Tuvalu has substantial assets abroad. The Tuvalu Trust Fund, an international trust fund established in 1987 by development partners, has grown to $141 million in 2013 and is an important cushion for meeting shortfalls in the government's budget. While remittances are another substantial source of income, the value of remittances has declined since the global financial crisis of 2008. Growing income inequality is one of many concerns for the nation.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 227/230

$36.58 million (2015 est.)

$35.34 million (2014 est.)

$34.57 million (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$34 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 77/225

3.5% (2015 est.)

2.2% (2014 est.)

1.3% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 181/230

$3,400 (2015 est.)

$3,300 (2014 est.)

$3,200 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 24.5%

industry: 5.6%

services: 70% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

coconuts; fish

Industries

fishing

Industrial production growth rate 200/202

-26.1% (2012 est.)

Labor force 223/233

3,615 (2004 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

note: people make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls and through overseas remittances (mostly from workers in the phosphate industry and sailors)

Unemployment rate

NA%

Population below poverty line

26.3% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Budget

revenues: $42.68 million

expenditures: $32.46 million (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 2/219

125.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 1/220

30.1% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt 108/176

41.1% of GDP (2013 est.)

43.1% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 170/226

4.7% (2015 est.)

3.3% (2014 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 78/184

10.6% (2013 est.)

10.6% (2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 121/121

$0 (2014)

Current account balance 55/197

-$12 million (2015 est.)

-$10 million (2014 est.)

Exports 221/224

$600,000 (2010 est.)

$1 million (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities

copra, fish

Imports 212/223

$136.5 million (2013 est.)

$238.6 million (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods

Debt - external

$NA

Exchange rates

Tuvaluan dollars or Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -

1.33 (2015 est.)

1.67 (2014 est.)

1.1094 (2013 est.)

0.97 (2012 est.)

0.9695 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 216/220

11.8 million kWh (2011)

Electricity - exports 207/218

0 kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports 211/219

0 kWh (2014)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 211/214

5,100 kW (2011)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 65/214

96% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 195/214

0% of total installed capacity (2014)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 208/214

0% of total installed capacity (2014)

Crude oil - production 200/214

0 bbl/day (2014)

Crude oil - exports 199/214

0 bbl/day (2014)

Crude oil - imports 137/214

0 bbl/day (2014)

Crude oil - proved reserves 202/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 139/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 140/214

0 bbl/day

Natural gas - production 139/216

0 cu m (2014)

Natural gas - consumption 203/215

0 cu m (2014)

Natural gas - exports 197/215

0 cu m (2014)

Natural gas - imports 144/214

0 cu m (2014)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 215/219

total subscriptions: 1,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 217/217

total: 3,800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 35 (2014 est.)

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 (2007)

Broadcast media

no TV stations; many households use satellite dishes to watch foreign TV stations; 1 government-owned radio station, Radio Tuvalu, includes relays of programming from international broadcasters (2009)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (2004)

Television broadcast stations

0 (2004)

Internet country code

.tv

Internet hosts 80/232

145,158 (2012)

Internet users 206/217

total: 4,100

percent of population: 38.1% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 235/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Roadways 223/223

total: 8 km

paved: 8 km (2011)

Merchant marine 67/156

total: 58

by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 24, chemical tanker 15, container 1, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 10, refrigerated cargo 1

foreign-owned: 33 (China 4, Indonesia 1, Maldives 1, Singapore 19, South Korea 1, Turkey 1, Vietnam 6) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Funafuti

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces; Tuvalu Police Force (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

none