The Tuvalu Portal

A beach at Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu, on a sunny day
A beach at Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu, on a sunny day
Location of Tuvalu
ISO 3166 codeTV

Tuvalu (/tˈvɑːl/ too-VAH-loo), formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is an island country in the Polynesian subregion of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. Its islands are situated about midway between Hawaii and Australia. They lie east-northeast of the Santa Cruz Islands (which belong to the Solomon Islands), northeast of Vanuatu, southeast of Nauru, south of Kiribati, west of Tokelau, northwest of Samoa and Wallis and Futuna, and north of Fiji. Tuvalu is composed of three reef islands and six atolls. They are spread out between the latitude of and 10° south and between the longitude of 176° and 180°. They lie west of the International Date Line. Tuvalu has a population of 11,204. The total land area of the islands of Tuvalu is 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi).

The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesians, according to well established theories regarding a migration of Polynesians into the Pacific that began about three thousand years ago. Long before European contact with the Pacific islands, Polynesians frequently voyaged by canoe between the islands. Polynesian navigation skills enabled them to make elaborately planned journeys in either double-hulled sailing canoes or outrigger canoes. Scholars believe that the Polynesians spread out from Samoa and Tonga into the Tuvaluan atolls, which then served as a stepping stone for further migration into the Polynesian outliers in Melanesia and Micronesia.

In 1569, Spanish navigator and documentor Álvaro de Mendaña became the first European to sail through the archipelago, sighting the island of Nui during an expedition he was making in search of Terra Australis. The island of Funafuti was named Ellice's Island in 1819. Later, the whole group was named Ellice Islands by English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay. In the late 19th century, Great Britain claimed control over the Ellice Islands, designating them as within their sphere of influence. Between 9 and 16 October 1892, Captain Gibson of HMS Curacoa declared each of the Ellice Islands to be a British protectorate. Britain assigned a resident commissioner to administer the Ellice Islands as part of the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT). From 1916 to 1975, they were managed as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony. (Full article...)

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Tuvaluan children watching a plane land at Funafuti International Airport

Funafuti International Airport (IATA: FUN, ICAO: NGFU) is an airport in Funafuti, it is the only airport in Tuvalu. The airport is somewhat unusual due to limited space on the island, the runway is used as a common area for sporting and social activities when not in use. Sirens sound when a plane is landing, warning civilians to stay clear of the runway. The airport was built in 1943 during World War II. The airport is at an elevation of 9 feet (3 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway which is 1,524 metres (5,000 ft) in length.


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