Tuvalu


Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Tuvalu mo te Atua"  (Tuvaluan)
"Tuvalu for the Almighty"
Anthem: Tuvalu mo te Atua  (Tuvaluan)
Tuvalu for the Almighty

Royal anthemGod Save the Queen
Capital Funafuti
8°31′S 179°13′E / 8.517°S 179.217°E / -8.517; 179.217
Official language(s) Tuvaluan, English
Demonym Tuvaluan
Government Parliamentary Democracy & Constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor General Iakoba Italeli
 -  Prime Minister Willy Telavi
Independence
 -  from the United Kingdom 1 October 1978 
Area
 -  Total 26 km2 (226th)
10 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
Population
 -  July 2011 estimate 10,544[1] (224th)
 -  Density 475.88/km2 (22nd)
1,142/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 (est.) estimate
 -  Total $36 million (223rd)
 -  Per capita $$3,400 (2010 est.) (164)
HDI (2003) n/a (unranked) (n/a)
Currency Tuvaluan dollar
Australian dollar (AUD)
Time zone (UTC+12)
Drives on the left
ISO 3166 code TV
Internet TLD .tv
Calling code 688

Tuvalu (/tuːˈvɑːluː/ ( listen) too-vah-loo or /ˈtuːvəluː/ too-və-loo), formerly known as the Ellice Islands,[2] is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia.[3] Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls. Its population of 10,472 makes it the third-least populous sovereign state in the world, with only Vatican City and Nauru having fewer inhabitants. In terms of physical land size, at just 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi) Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world, larger only than the Vatican City at 0.44 km2 (0.17 sq mi), Monaco at 1.95 km2 (0.75 sq mi) and Nauru at 21 km2 (8.1 sq mi).

The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesian people. In 1568 Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña discovered the islands during his expedition in search of Terra Australis. In 1819 the island of Funafuti, was named Ellice's Island; the name Ellice was applied to all nine islands after the work of English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay (1812–1876).[4] The islands came under Britain's sphere of influence in the late 19th century, when the Ellice Islands were declared a British protectorate by Captain Gibson, R. N. of HMS Curaçao between 9th and 16 October 1892. The Ellice Islands were administered as British protectorate by a Resident Commissioner from 1892 to 1916 as part of the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT), and later as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony from 1916 to 1974.

In 1974, the Ellice Islanders voted for separate British dependency status as Tuvalu, separating from the Gilbert Islands which became Kiribati upon independence. Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on October 1, 1978. On September 5, 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.

Contents

History

Tuvaluan man in traditional costume drawn by Alfred Agate in 1841 during the United States Exploring Expedition.

Tuvaluans are a Polynesian people who settled the islands around 3000 years ago coming from Tonga and Samoa.[5] During pre-European-contact times there was frequent canoe voyaging between the nearer islands. Eight of the nine islands of Tuvalu were inhabited; thus the name, Tuvalu, means "eight standing together" in Tuvaluan. Possible evidence of fire in the Caves of Nanumanga may indicate human occupation thousands of years before that.

Tuvalu was first sighted by Europeans in 1568 with the arrival of Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira from Spain who also encountered the island of Nui which he named Isla de Jesus (Island of Jesus) but was unable to land. Keith S. Chambers and Doug Munro (1980) identify Niutao as the island that Francisco Antonio Mourelle named on May 5, 1781 thus solving what Europeans had called The Mystery of Gran Cocal.[6] [7]

The next European to visit was Arent Schuyler de Peyster, of New York, captain of the armed brigantine or privateer Rebecca, sailing under British colours,[8] which passed through the southern Tuvalu waters in May 1819; de Peyster sighted Nukufetau and Funafuti, which he named Ellice's Island after an English Politician, Edward Ellice, the Member of Parliament for Coventry and the owner of the Rebecca's cargo.[7] In 1820 the Russian explorer Mikhail Lazarev visited Nukufetau as commander of the Mirny.[7] Following 1819 whalers were roving the Pacific though visiting Tuvalu only infrequently because of the difficulties of landing ships on the atolls. No settlements were established by the whalers.[7]

Peruvian slave raiders ("blackbirders") seeking workers to mine the guano deposits on the Chincha Islands in Peru, combed the Pacific between 1862 and 1865, including the southern islands of Tuvalu.[9] The Rev. A. W. Murray,[10] the earliest European missionary in Tuvalu, reported that in 1863 about 180 people[11] were taken from Funafuti and about 200 were taken from Nukulaelae[12] as there were fewer than 100 of the 300 recorded in 1861 as living on Nukulaelae.[13] [14]

Christianity first came to Tuvalu in 1861 when Elekana, a deacon of a Congregational church in Manihiki, Cook Islands became caught in a storm and drifted for 8 weeks before landing at Nukulaelae.[15] Elekana began proselytizing Christianity. He was trained in a London Missionary Society school in Samoa before beginning his work in establishing the Church of Tuvalu.[7] In 1865 the Rev. A. W. Murray of the London Missionary Society - a Protestant congregationalist missionary society - arrived as the first European missionary where he too proselytized among the inhabitants of Tuvalu. By 1878 the Church of Tuvalu was well established with preachers on each island.[7]

A man from the Nukufetau atoll, drawn by Alfred Agate 1841.

Trading firms & traders

Trading companies became active in Tuvalu in the mid-nineteenth century; the trading companies engaged palagi traders who lived on the islands, some islands would have competing traders with dryer islands only have a single trader.[16] In 1892, Captain Davis of the HMS Royalist, reported on trading activities and traders on each of the islands visited.[17] Captain Davis identified the following traders in the Ellice Group: Edmund Duffy (Nanumea); Jack Buckland (Niutao); Harry Nitz (Vaitupu); John (also known as Jack) O'Brien (Funafuti); Alfred Restieaux and Fenisot (Nukufetau); and Martin Kleis (Nui).[18] This was the time at which the greatest number of palagi traders lived on the atolls, acting as the agent for the trading companies.[16]

In the later 1890s and into first decade of the 20th century, structural changes occurred in the operation of the Pacific trading companies, with the trading companies moving from a practice of having traders resident on each island to trade with the islanders to a business operation where the supercargo (the cargo manager of a trading ship) would deal directly with the islanders when a ship would visit an island. From 1900, the numbers of palagi traders in Tuvalu declined, with the last of the palagi traders being Fred Whibley on Niutao and Alfred Restieaux on Nukufetau. However, by 1909 there were no resident palagi traders representing the trading companies,[19] although both Fred Whibley and Alfred Restieaux[20] remained in the islands until their deaths.

Scientific expeditions & travellers

1900, Woman on Funafuti, Tuvalu, then known as Ellice Islands
Woman on Funafuti, Harry Clifford Fassett (1900)

The United States Exploring Expedition under Charles Wilkes visited Funafuti, Nukufetau and Vaitupu in 1841.[21] During the visit of the expedition to Tuvalu Alfred Thomas Agate, engraver and illustrator, recorded the dress and tattoo patterns of men of Nukufetau.[22]

In 1890, Robert Louis Stevenson, his wife Fanny Vandegrift Stevenson, and her son Lloyd Osbourne sailed on the Janet Nicoll a trading steamer owned by Henderson and Macfarlane of Auckland, New Zealand, which operated between Sydney, Auckland and into the central Pacific.[23] The Janet Nicoll visited Tuvalu;[24] while Fanny records that they made landfall at Funafuti and Niutao, Jane Resture suggests that it was more likely that they visited Nukufetau rather than Funafuti.[25] An account of the voyage was written by Fanny Vandegrift Stevenson and published under the title The Cruise of the Janet Nichol,[26] together with photographs taken by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne.

In 1894, Count Rudolph Festetics de Tolna, his wife Eila (née Haggin)[27] and her daughter Blanche Haggin visited Funafuti aboard the yacht Le Tolna.[28] Le Tolna spent several days at Funafuti with the Count photographing men and woman on Funafuti.[29]

The boreholes on Funafuti at the site now called David's Drill are the result of drilling conducted by the Royal Society of London for the purpose of investigating the formation of coral reefs to determine whether traces of shallow water organisms could be found at depth in the coral of Pacific atolls. This investigation followed the work on the structure and distribution of coral reefs conducted by Charles Darwin in the Pacific. Drilling occurred in 1896, 1897 and 1911. Professor Edgeworth David of the University of Sydney lead the expeditions in 1896 & 1897.[30] Photographers on the expeditions recorded people, communities and scenes at Funafuti.[31]

Harry Clifford Fassett, captain's clerk and photographer, recorded people, communities and scenes at Funafuti during a visit of USFC Albatross when the U.S. Fish Commission were investigating the formation of coral reefs on Pacific atolls in 1900.[32]

Politics

Tuvalu is a Parliamentary Democracy and Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as the country's head of state, bearing the title Queen of Tuvalu. The Queen does not reside in the islands and is represented in Tuvalu by a Governor General, who is appointed by the Queen upon the advice of the country's elected Prime Minister. The local unicameral parliament, or Fale I Fono, has 15 members and is elected every four years. Its members select a Prime Minister who is the head of government. The Cabinet is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Each island also has its own high-chief or ulu-aliki, and several sub-chiefs (alikis) and elders. The elders form together an island council of elders or te sina o fenua (literally:"grey-hairs of the land"). In the past, another caste, namely the one of the priests (tofuga) was also amongst the decision-makers. The sina o fenua, aliki and ulu-aliki exercise informal authority on a local level. Ulu-aliki are always chosen based on ancestry, and their powers are now shared with the pule o kaupule (elected village presidents; one on each atoll).[33] There are no formal political parties and election campaigns are largely on the basis of personal/family ties and reputation.

The highest court in Tuvalu is the High Court; there are eight Island Courts with limited jurisdiction. Rulings from the High Court can be appealed to the Court of Appeal of Tuvalu.[34] From the Court of Appeal there is a right of appeal to Her Majesty in Council, i.e., the Privy Council in London.

Defence and law enforcement

Tuvalu has no regular military forces, and spends no money on the military. Its police force includes a Maritime Surveillance Unit for search and rescue missions and surveillance operations. The police have a Pacific-class patrol boat (HMTSS Te Mataili) provided by Australia under the Pacific Patrol Boat Program for use in maritime surveillance and fishery patrol.[35] HMTSS stands for His/Her Majesty's Tuvaluan State Ship or His/Her Majesty's Tuvalu Surveillance Ship.

Districts

Map of Tuvalu.

Tuvalu's small population is distributed across nine islands, five of which are atolls. The smallest island, Niulakita, was uninhabited until it was settled by people from Niutao in 1949.

Local government districts consisting of more than one islet:

Local government districts consisting of only one island:

Foreign relations

Tuvalu participates in the work of Secretariat of the Pacific Community, or SPC (sometimes Pacific Community) and is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. Tuvalu has maintained a mission at the United Nations in New York City since 2000. Tuvalu is a member of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Tuvalu maintains close relations with Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the European Union. It has diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan); the ROC maintains the only resident embassy in Tuvalu and has a large assistance program in the islands.

A major international priority for Tuvalu in the UN, at the 2002 Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa and in other international fora is promoting concern about global warming and possible sea level rise. Tuvalu advocates ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. In December 2009 the islands stalled talks on climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, fearing some other developing countries were not committing fully to binding deals on a reduction in carbon emission, their chief negotiator stated "Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, and our future rests on the outcome of this meeting."[36] Tuvalu participates in the operations of the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREC).[37]

Tuvalu is a party to a treaty of friendship with the United States, signed soon after independence and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1983, under which the United States renounced prior territorial claims to four Tuvaluan islands (Funafuti, Nukefetau, Nukulaelae and Niulakita) under the Guano Islands Act of 1856.[38]

Tuvalu participates in the operations of the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency.[39] The Tuvaluan government, the US government, and the governments of other Pacific islands, are parties to South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT). That agreement entered into force in 1988 with the current SPTT agreement expiring on June 14, 2013.[40] Tuvalu is also a member of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement which addresses management of tuna purse-seine fishing in the tropical western Pacific.[41]

Geography and environment

A beach at Funafuti atoll.

Tuvalu consists of three reef islands and six true atolls. Its small, scattered group of atolls have poor soil and a total land area of only about 26 square kilometres (less than 10 sq. mi.) making it the fourth smallest country in the world. The islets that form the atolls are very low lying. Nanumaga, Niutao, Niulakita are reef islands and the six true atolls are Funafuti, Nanumea, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae and Vaitupu. Funafuti is the largest atoll of the nine low reef islands and atolls that form the Tuvalu volcanic island chain. It comprises numerous islets around a central lagoon that is approximately 25.1 kilometres (15.6 mi) (N–S) by 18.4 kilometres (11.4 mi) (W-E), centred on 179°7’E and 8°30’S. On the atolls an annular reef rim surrounds the lagoon, with several natural reef channels.[42]

The eastern shoreline of Funafuti Lagoon was modified during WW-II when the airfield (what is now Funafuti International Airport) was constructed. As well several piers were constructed, beach areas filled, and deep water access channels were excavated. These alternations to the reef and shoreline have resulted in changes to wave patterns with less sand accumulating to form the beaches as compared to former times; and the shoreline is now exposed to wave action. Several attempts to stabilize the shoreline have not achieved the desired effect.[43] The reefs at Funafuti have suffered some damage;[44] researchers from Japan have investigated rebuilding the coral reefs through introduction of foraminifer.[45]

The highest elevation is 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level on Niulakita,[46] which gives Tuvalu the second-lowest maximum elevation of any country (after the Maldives). However, the highest elevations are typically in narrow storm dunes on the ocean side of the islands which are prone to over topping in tropical cyclones, such as occurred with Tropical Cyclone Bebe.[47] [48]

Because of the low elevation, the islands that make up this nation are threatened by current and future sea level rise.[49] Additionally, Tuvalu is annually affected by king tide events which peak towards the end of the austral summer, and raise the sea level higher than a normal high tide.[50] As a result of historical sea level rise, the king tide events lead to flooding of low lying areas, which is compounded when sea levels are further raised by La Niña effects or local storms and waves. In the future, sea level rise may threaten to submerge the nation entirely as it is estimated that a sea level rise of 20–40 centimetres (8–16 inches) in the next 100 years could make Tuvalu uninhabitable.[51] [52]

A wharf and beach at Funafuti atoll

Tuvalu experiences westerly gales and heavy rain from October to March - the period that is known as Tau-o-lalo; with tropical temperatures moderated by easterly winds from March to November. Drinking water is mostly obtained from rainwater collected on roofs and stored in tanks; these systems are often poorly maintained, resulting in lack of water.[53] Aid programs of Australia and the European Union have been directed to improving the storage capacity on Funafuti and in the outer islands.[54]

The rising population results in increased demand on fish stocks, which are under stress; although the creation of the Funafuti Conservation Area has provided a fishing exclusion area that helps sustain fish populations across the Funafuti lagoon. Population pressure on the resources of Funafuti and in-adequation sanitation systems have resulted in pollution.[55] [56] The Waste Operations and Services Act 2009 provides the legal framework for the waste management and pollution control projects funded by the European Union that are directed to organic waste composting in eco-sanitation systems.[57] Plastic waste is also a problem as much imported food and other commodities is supplied in plastic containers or packaging.

When the airfield at Funafuti was constructed during WW-II the coral base of the atoll was used as fill to create the runway; the resulting borrow pits impacted on the water aquifer; at these pits the sea water can be seen bubbling up through the porous coral rock to form pools on each high tide.[58] [59] [60]

Tourism

The main island of Funafuti is the focus of travelers, as the only airport in Tuvalu is the Funafuti International Airport, with the island having hotel accommodation.[61] Ecotourism is a motivation of travelers to Tuvalu. The Funafuti Conservation Area consists of 33 square kilometers of ocean, reef, lagoon, channel and six uninhabited islets.[62]

The outer atolls can be visited on the two passenger/cargo ships Nivaga II and Manu Folau, which provide a round trip visiting the outer islands every three or four weeks.[63] There is no tourist accommodation on the outer atolls.

Economy

From 1996 to 2002, Tuvalu was one of the best performing Pacific Island economies and achieved an average real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 5.6 per cent per annum. Since 2002 economic growth has slowed with GDP of 1.5% in 2008. Tuvalu was exposed to rapid rises in world prices fuel and food in 2008, with the level of inflation peaking at 13.4%.[64] The International Monetary Fund 2010 Report on Tuvalu estimates that Tuvalu experienced zero growth in GDP in 2010, after the economy contracted by about 2 percent in 2009.[65]

Public sector workers make up about two thirds of those in formal employment. About 15% of adult males work as seamen on foreign flagged merchant ships. Tuvaluans are otherwise involved in traditional subsistence agriculture and fishing.[1]

Tuvalu generates income from the Tuvalu Trust Fund, the commercialisation of the ‘.tv’ web address, fishing licences, sale of stamps and coins; remittances from Tuvaluans living in Australia and New Zealand; and remittances from Tuvaluan sailors employed on overseas ships.[66][67]

In 1998, Tuvalu began deriving revenue from use of its area code for "900" lines and from the sale of its ".tv" Internet domain name.[68]

The Tuvalu Trust Fund was established in 1987 by the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.[66] The value of the Tuvalu Trust Fund is approximately $100 million.[64][65][69]

Australia and New Zealand continue to contribute capital to the Tuvalu Trust Fund and provide other forms of development assistance.[66][67] The US government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu, with 1999 payments from the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT) at about $9 million, a total which is expected to rise annually. The SPTT entered into force in 1988 with the current SPTT agreement expiring on June 14, 2013.[40] Financial support to Tuvalu is also provided by Japan, South Korea and the European Union.[40]

The United Nations designates Tuvalu as a ‘Least Developed Country’, because of its limited potential for economic development, absence of exploitable resources, small size and vulnerability to external economic and environmental shocks.[70]

Because of the country's remoteness, tourism does not provide much income; a thousand tourists are estimated to visit Tuvalu annually.[71]

Demographics

The country's population has more than doubled since 1980, and with a growth rate of 0.702%, the population at the 2002 census was 9,561,[72] and is estimated to reach 10,544 in July 2010.[1] The population of Tuvalu is primarily of Polynesian ethnicity; about 4% of the population is Micronesian.[1] The net migration rate is estimated at -7.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)[1]

The primary destinations for migration are New Zealand and Australian. New Zealand provides for annual quota of 75 Tuvaluans granted work permits under the Pacific Access Category, which was was announced in 2001.[73]The applicants register for the Pacific Access Category (PAC) ballots; the primary criteria for applicants is that the principal applicant must have a job offer from a New Zealand employer.[74] Tuvaluans can also gain access to seasonal employment in the horticulture and viticulture industries in New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Work Policy, which was introduced in 2007 for the employment of up to 5,000 workers from Tuvalu and other Pacific islands.[75] Australia and Tuvalu are discussing extending access to the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme to Tuvaluans.[76]

Life expectancy at birth is 62.7 years for males and 66.9 years for females (2011 est.)[1]

The Tuvaluan language is spoken by virtually everyone, while a language very similar to Gilbertese is spoken on Nui. English is also an official language, but is not spoken in daily use. Parliament and official functions are conducted in Tuvaluan.

A Tuvaluan dancer at Auckland's Pasifika Festival

The introduction of Christianity ended the worship of the spirits of ancestors and other deities, along with the power of the vaka-atua (the priests of the old religions). Laumua Kofe describes the objects of worship as varying from island to island, although ancestor worship is described by Rev. D.J. Whitmee in 1870 as being common practice.[77] About 97% of the Tuvaluans are members of the Church of Tuvalu, a Protestant Christian church. Tuvaluans continue to have respect for their ancestors within the context of a strong Christian faith.

Other religions practised on the island include Seventh-day Adventist (1.4%), Bahá'í (1%).[1] and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (400 members, 0.4%).[78]

Culture

Dance and Music

The contemporary style of Tuvaluan music consists of a number of dances, most popularly including fatele. The traditions styles of fakanau and fakaseasea,[79] were used to celebrate leaders and other prominent individuals. The Tuvaluan style can be described "as a musical microcosm of Polynesia, where contemporary and older styles co-exist".[79]

Heritage

The traditional community system still survives to a large extent on Tuvalu. Each family has its own task, or salanga, to perform for the community, such as fishing, house building or defence. The skills of a family are passed on from parents to children.

Most islands have their own fusi, or community owned shops that are similar to a convenience store, you can buy canned foods and bags of rice, but goods are cheaper and fusis give better prices for their own produce.[33]

Another important building is the falekaupule or traditional island meeting hall,[80] where important matters are discussed and which is also used for wedding celebrations and community activities such as a fatele involving music, singing and dancing.[33] Falekaupule is also used as the name of the council of elders - the traditional decision making body on each island. Under the Falekaupule Act, Falekaupule means “traditional assembly in each island...composed in accordance with the Aganu of each island”. Aganu means traditional custom and culture.[80]

Canoe carving on Nanumea

Cuisine

The traditional foods eaten in Tuvalu are pulaka, bananas, breadfruit, coconut, seafood (coconut crab, turtle and fish), seabirds (taketake or Black Noddy and akiaki or White Tern) and pork.[33]

Pulaka is the main source for carbohydrates. It is grown in large pits below the water table in composted soil. Seafood is the main source of protein. Bananas and breadfruit are supplemental crops. Finally, coconut is used for its juice, making beverages, and to improve the taste of other dishes. Pork is eaten mostly at fateles (or parties with dancing to celebrate certain events).[33]

Catching flying fish by using a boat, a butterfly net, and a spotlight to attract the flying fish, is both a source of food and an exciting activity.[33]

Language

The Tuvaluan language of the Ellicean group spoken in Tuvalu. It is more or less distantly related to all other Polynesian languages, such as Hawaiian, Māori, Tahitian, Samoan, and Tongan, and most closely related to the languages spoken on the Polynesian outliers in Micronesia and Northern and Central Melanesia. Tuvaluan has borrowed considerably from Samoan, the language of Christian missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are about 13,000 Tuvaluan speakers worldwide.[81][82] Tuvaluan radio services are operated by the Tuvalu Media Corporation.

Sport and leisure

A traditional sport played in Tuvalu is kilikiti, which is similar to cricket.[83] Another sport popular and specific to Tuvalu is ano, which is played with 2 round balls of 12 cm diameter.[33]

More common sports such as football, volleyball and rugby union are also played in the country as recreational activities. Tuvalu has sports organisations for badminton, basketball, tennis, table tennis, volleyball and weightlifting. A major sporting event is the "Independence Day Sports" festival held annually on 1 October during the Tuvaluan Independence Day celebrations.

Tuvalu has a national football team, which trains at the Vaiaku Stadium in Funafuti. The Tuvalu national football team competes in the Pacific Games and South Pacific Games. The Tuvalu Football Association is an associate member of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and is seeking membership of FIFA.[84]

Tuvalu first participated in the South Pacific Games in 1978. Tuvalu first participated in the Commonwealth Games in 1998, when a weightlifter attended the games held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[85] Two table tennis players attended the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England;[85] Tuvalu entered competitors in shooting, table tennis and weightlifting at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia; and three athletes attended the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, participating in the discus, shot put and weightlifting events.[85]

The Tuvalu Amateur Sport Association was recognised as the Tuvalu National Olympic Committee in July 2007. Tuvalu entered the Olympic Games for the first time at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, China, with a weightlifter and two athletes participating in the men’s and women’s 100 metre sprint.

Transport

Manu Folau off Vaitupu Harbour

Transport services in Tuvalu are limited. There are about eight kilometres of roads.[1] The streets of Funafuti were paved and lit in mid-2002, and other roads are unpaved. Tuvalu is among a few countries that do not have railroads.

Funafuti is the only port, and there is also a deep-water berth in the harbour at Nukufetau. The merchant marine fleet consists of two passenger/cargo ships Nivaga II and Manu Folau. These ships carry cargo and passengers between the main atolls and also travel between Suva, Fiji[86] and Funafuti[63] 3-4 times a year. The Nivaga II and Manu Folau provide a round trip visiting the outer islands every three or four weeks. The Manu Folau is a 50-meter vessel that was a gift from Japan to the people of Tuvalu.

The only airport is Funafuti International Airport; it is a tarred strip. Air Pacific, which owns Fiji Airlines, trading as Pacific Sun operates services between Suva (originating from Nadi) and Funafuti; with a 40-seat plane twice a week.

Education

Education in Tuvalu is free of charge and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15 years. Each island has a primary school. The secondary school is on Vaitupu. Students board at the school during the school term, returning to their home islands each school vacation.

School attendance at school is 10 years for males and 11 years for females (2001).[1] Adult literacy rate is 99.0% (2002).[65]

The Tuvaluan Employment Ordinance (1966) sets the minimum age for paid employment at 14, and prohibits children below age 15 from performing hazardous work.[87]

El Niño & La Niña effects and the effects of climate change

At its highest, Tuvalu is only 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level, and officials have been concerned about the effects of rising sea levels for some years.[88] The matter of whether there are measurable changes in the sea level relative to the islands of Tuvalu is a contentious issue.[89] There are problems associated with the pre-1993 sea level records from Funafuti so that a data over a longer period needs to be collected in order to have more reliable data.[90] The degree of uncertainty as to estimates of sea level change relative to the islands of Tuvalu is reflected in the conclusions made from the available data.[90]

Notwithstanding the uncertainty as to the climate science analysis of sea level change relative to the islands of Tuvalu, there are observable changes that have occurred over the last ten to fifteen years that show Tuvaluans that there have been changes to sea levels. Those observable changes include sea water bubbling up through the porous coral rock to form pools on each high tide and flooding of low-lying areas including the airport on a regular during spring tides and king tides.[58] [59] [60]

As low-lying islands, lacking a surrounding shallow shelf, the island communities of Tuvalu are especially susceptible to changes in sea level and storm patterns that hit the island undissipated.[91] It is estimated that a sea level rise of 20–40 centimetres (8–16 inches) in the next 100 years could make Tuvalu uninhabitable.[51] [52]

The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) suggests that while Tuvalu is vulnerable to climate change there are additional environmental problems such as population growth and poor coastal management that are affecting sustainable development on the island. SOPAC ranks the country as extremely vulnerable using the Environmental Vulnerability Index.[92]

While some commentators have called for the relocation of the population of Tuvalu to Australia, New Zealand, or Kioa in Fiji, the former Prime Minister Maatia Toafa said his government did not regard rising sea levels as such a threat that the entire population would need to be evacuated.[93] [94] In spite of persistent Internet rumours that New Zealand has agreed to accept an annual quota of 75 evacuees, the annual quota of 75 Tuvaluans granted work permits under the Pacific Access Category (that was announced in 2001) are not related to environmental concerns.[73]

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

Tuvalu experiences the effects of El Niño and La Niña that flow from changes in ocean temperatures in equatorial and central Pacific. El Niño effects increase the chances of tropical storms and cyclones; while La Niña effects increase the chances of drought conditions in Tuvalu.[95] Typically the islands of Tuvalu receive between 200mm to 400mm of rainfall per month, however in 2011 a weak La Niña effect caused a drought by cooling the surface of the sea around Tuvalu. A state of emergency was declared on September 28, 2011;[96] with rationing of available fresh-water on the islands of Funafuti and Nukulaelae.[97] [98] [99]

Households on Funafuti and Nukulaelae are rationed to two buckets of fresh-water a day (40 litres).[100] [101] The governments of Australia and New Zealand have responded to the fresh-water crisis by supplying temporary desalination plants,[102] [103] and assisting in the repair of the existing desalination units.[104] [105] Aid programs of the European Union;[54] [57] and Australia also provide water tanks as part of the longer term solution for the storage of available fresh water.[105]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The World Factbook (CIA)". https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tv.html. Retrieved 1 Sept. 2011. 
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  12. ^ The figure of 250 taken from Nukulaelae is given by Laumua Kofe, Palagi and Pastors, Tuvalu: A History, Ch. 15, U.S.P. & Tuvalu (1983)
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Further reading

  • Bibliography of Tuvalu
  • Lonely Planet Guide: South Pacific & Micronesia, by various
  • Bennetts, Peter and Tony Wheeler, Time & Tide: The Islands of Tuvalu, Lonely Planet (2001)
  • Besnier, Niko, Literacy, Emotion and Authority: Reading and Writing on a Polynesian Atoll, Cambridge University Press, (1995)
  • Ells, Philip Where the Hell is Tuvalu?, Virgin Books, (2008)
  • Macdonald, Barrie Cinderellas of the Empire: towards a history of Kiribati and Tuvalu, Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji, (2001). ISBN 982-02-0335-X (Australian National University Press, first published 1982)
  • Watling, Dick, A Guide to the Birds of Fiji and Western Polynesia: Including American Samoa, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna, Environmental Consultants (Fiji) Ltd; 2nd edition, (2003)
Customs and Traditions
  • Brady, Ivan, Kinship Reciprocity in the Ellice Islands, Journal of Polynesian Society 81:3 (1972), 290-316
  • Brady, Ivan, Land Tenure in the Ellice Islands, in Henry P. Lundsaarde (ed). Land Tenure in Oceania, Honolulu, University Press of Hawaii (1974)
  • Koch, Gerd, Die Materielle Kulture der Ellice-Inseln, Berlin: Museum fur Volkerkunde (1961)
Music and Dance
  • Christensen, Dieter, Old Musical Styles in the Ellice Islands, Western Polynesia, Ethnomusicology, 8:1 (1964), 34-40
  • Christensen, Dieter and Gerd Koch, Die Musik der Ellice-Inseln, Berlin: Museum fur Volkerkunde (1964)
  • Linkels, Ad, The Real Music of Paradise. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.) Rough Guides (2000)

External links

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Records of scientific expeditions


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