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Tuvalu Island Map

Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands)

 

LOCATION:  In the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawai'i and Australia.

AREA:  Tuvalu consists of nine coral atolls totaling less than 10 square miles (26 sq km), or about 1/10th the size of Washington, D.C.

POPULATION:  10,838 (July 2000 est.)

DISCOVERED:  Samoans arrived sometime during the 14th century. Immigrants from Tonga, the northern Cook Islands, Rotuma, and the Gilbert Islands soon followed. The smallest and southernmost island remained uninhabited until European contact. The other eight islands were settled by the 18th century (hence the name Tuvalu, or "Cluster of Eight"). Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira was the first European to discover the islands in the late 16th century.

GOVERNMENT:  Under ethnic strain, the Polynesians of Ellice Islands voted for separation from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands in 1974. A year later, the Ellice Islands became Tuvalu, a separate British colony. Tuvalu declared independence in 1978. It is currently a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy.

LANGUAGES:  Tuvaluan, English

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