Geographic and Governmental Profile of Tuvalu

Background
In 1974, ethnic differences within the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands caused the Polynesians of the Ellice Islands to vote for separation from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands. The following year, the Ellice Islands became the separate British colony of Tuvalu. Independence was granted in 1978. In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name ".tv" for $50 million in royalties over a 12-year period.
Location
Oceania, island group consisting of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates
8 00 S, 178 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Oceania
Area
total:
26 sq km
rank:
237
land:
26 sq km
water:
0 sq km
Area - comparative
0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
0 km
Coastline
24 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
Climate
tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March)
Terrain
low-lying and narrow coral atolls
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point:
unnamed location 5 m
Natural resources
fish
Land use
arable land:
0%
permanent crops:
66.67%
other:
33.33% (2005)
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Irrigated land
NA
Natural hazards
severe tropical storms are usually rare, but in 1997 there were three cyclones; low level of islands make them sensitive to changes in sea level
Environment - current issues
since there are no streams or rivers and groundwater is not potable, most water needs must be met by catchment systems with storage facilities (the Japanese Government has built one desalination plant and plans to build one other); beachhead erosion because of the use of sand for building materials; excessive clearance of forest undergrowth for use as fuel; damage to coral reefs from the spread of the Crown of Thorns starfish; Tuvalu is concerned about global increases in greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on rising sea levels, which threaten the country's underground water table; in 2000, the government appealed to Australia and New Zealand to take in Tuvaluans if rising sea levels should make evacuation necessary
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
one of the smallest and most remote countries on Earth; six of the nine coral atolls - Nanumea, Nui, Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti, and Nukulaelae - have lagoons open to the ocean; Nanumaya and Niutao have landlocked lagoons; Niulakita does not have a lagoon
Country name
conventional long form:
none
conventional short form:
Tuvalu
local long form:
none
local short form:
Tuvalu
former:
Ellice Islands
"Tuvalu" means "group of eight" referring to the country's eight traditionally inhabited islands
Government type
parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Capital
name:
Funafuti
geographic coordinates:
8 31 S, 179 13 E
time difference:
UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
administrative offices are in Vaiaku Village on Fongafale Islet
Administrative divisions
none
Independence
1 October 1978 (from the UK)
Constitution
1 October 1978
Legal system
mixed legal system of English common law and local customary law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Iakoba TAEIA Italeli (since May 2010)
head of government:
Prime Minister Willie TELAVI (since 24 December 2010)
cabinet:
Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections:
the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from the members of parliament following parliamentary elections
election results:
Willie TELAVI elected prime minister in a parliamentary election on 24 December 2010 following a no-confidence vote on 21 December 2010 that ousted Maatia TOAFA
Legislative branch
unicameral Parliament or Fale I Fono, also called House of Assembly (15 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections:
last held on 16 September 2010 (next to be held in 2014)
election results:
percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 15; 10 members reelected
Judicial branch
High Court (a chief justice visits twice a year to preside over its sessions; its rulings can be appealed to the Court of Appeal in Fiji); eight Island Courts (with limited jurisdiction)
Political parties and leaders
there are no political parties but members of parliament usually align themselves in informal groupings
Political pressure groups and leaders
none
International organization participation
ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, FAO, IBRD, IDA, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO
Diplomatic representation in the US
Tuvalu does not have an embassy in the US - the country's only diplomatic post is in Fiji - Tuvalu does, however, have a UN office located at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400D, New York, NY 10017, telephone: [1] (212) 490-0534, fax: [1] (212) 937-0692
Diplomatic representation from the US
the US does not have an embassy in Tuvalu; the US ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tuvalu
Flag description
light blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant; the outer half of the flag represents a map of the country with nine yellow, five-pointed stars on a blue field symbolizing the nine atolls in the ocean
National anthem
name:
"Tuvalu mo te Atua" (Tuvalu for the Almighty)
lyrics/music:
Afaese MANOA
adopted 1978; the anthem's name is also the nation's motto
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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