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What Should I Know About Tuvalu?

Tuvalu has many small coral reef islets.
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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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Tuvalu is a group of islands which was known as Ellice Islands until 1978, the year in which it gained independence from the British Empire. Despite their independence, Tuvalu still recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as their main head of state, although a prime minister is appointed in Tuvalu to oversee the business of the island. Tuvalu is unique in its governing system, as there is no military and no police force per se on the island. While a Maritime Surveillance Unit exists, it is mainly there to watch overseas traffic. Crime is practically non-existent in Tuvalu. There are only two embassies for Tuvalu in the world: one in England and one in Taiwan.

The four main islands, surrounded by five other small coral reef islets, are located in the Pacific Ocean and considered part of Polynesia. The total surface of all nine islands combined is barely over 10 sq mi (26 kmĀ²), with a population of only 10,000 residents. Almost 100 percent of the population is of Polynesian ethnicity, with very few foreigners ever visiting the island. Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu, is a small islet in which the airport, the local church, and the official government building are located. Most of the houses in Funafuti are made of palm trees.

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Tuvalu is an extremely poor country that has no natural resources to speak of. Agriculture is not possible because of soil composition, and there is no other industry besides fishing, although even that is only attempted in a small scale, for local families to subsist. In fact, it is common in Tuvalu for families to have a particular trade, such as house building, scribes, or even baking, and trade their skills to subsist as a community. Sales of stamps and foreign aid are the main sources of sustenance for Tuvalu. There is an ongoing campaign to promote tourism in Tuvalu, but the results so far have been small. Three small guesthouses and a hotel are set up in Tuvalu to welcome visitors, most of which are politicians or international aid workers.

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