Funafala is an islet of Funafuti,[1][2] Tuvalu that is inhabited by five families, with a church also located on the islet.[3] Funafala means 'the pandanus of Funa', the name of a chief, after whom also the group has been named Funafuti.[4]

Cyclones of 1883 & 1972Edit

Ocean side of Funafuti atoll showing the storm dunes, the highest point on the atoll.

George Westbrook, a trader on Funafuti, recorded a Cyclone that struck Funafuti in 1883. At the time the Cyclone struck he was the sole inhabitant of Fongafale as Tema, the Samoan missionary, had taken everyone else to Funafala to work on erecting a church. The buildings on Fongafale were destroyed, including the church and the trade stores of George Westbrook and Alfred Restieaux. Little damage had occurred at Funafala and the people returned to rebuild at Fongafale.[5]

In 1972 Funafuti was in the path of Cyclone Bebe. Tropical Cyclone Bebe was a pre-season tropical cyclone that impacted the Gilbert, Ellice Islands, and Fiji island groups.[6] First spotted on October 20, the system intensified and grew in size through October 22. Cyclone Bebe continued through Sunday 22 October.[7] Cyclone Bebe knocked down 90% of the houses and trees. The storm surge created a wall of coral rubble along the ocean side of Fongafale and Funafala that was about 10 miles (16 km) long, and about 10 feet (3.0 m) to 20 feet (6.1 m) thick at the bottom.[7][8] The cyclone contaminated sources of drinking water as a result of the system's storm surge and flooding.

World War IIEdit

During the Pacific War the majority of Tuvaluans living on Fongafale atoll moved to Funafala so as to leave Fongafale as a base for the American forces who occupied much of Fongafale atoll including building the airfield. The hospital was shifted to Funafala atoll for the duration of the war.[9]


  1. ^ Admiralty Nautical Chart 2983 Tuvalu - Funafuti atoll. United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).
  2. ^ Lal, Andrick. South Pacific Sea Level & Climate Monitoring Project - Funafuti atoll (PDF). SPC Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC Division of SPC). pp. 60–63 & 65–68 & 73–76. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-03.
  3. ^ Needham, Guy (2 May 2017). "Tuvalu: Where the sky meets the sea". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  4. ^ Hedley, Charles (1896). General account of the Atoll of Funafuti (PDF). Australian Museum Memoir 3(2): 1–72. p. 17.
  5. ^ Resture, Jane. Hurricane 1883. Tuvalu and the Hurricanes: ‘Gods Who Die’ by Julian Dana as told by George Westbrook.
  6. ^ Bureau of Meteorology (1975) Tropical Cyclones in the Northern Australian Regions 1971-1972 Australian Government Publishing Service
  7. ^ a b Resture, Jane (5 October 2009). Hurricane Bebe 1972. Tuvalu and the Hurricanes: ‘The Hurricane in Funafuti, Tuvalu’ by Pasefika Falani (Pacific Frank).
  8. ^ Warne, Kennedy (13 February 2015). "Will Pacific Island Nations Disappear as Seas Rise? Maybe Not - Reef islands can grow and change shape as sediments shift, studies show". National Geographic. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  9. ^ Teo, Noati P. (1983). "Chapter 17 - Colonial Rule". Tuvalu: A History. Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific and Government of Tuvalu. pp. 132–133.

Coordinates: 8°37′41″S 179°06′06″E / 8.6281°S 179.1016°E / -8.6281; 179.1016