Tuvalu

 

Tuvalu (Tuvalu Tuvalu; until 1975 - Ellis Islands) is a Pacific state in Polynesia. Tuvalu is located on 5 atolls and 4 islands of the Tuvalu archipelago. The islands are scattered over 350 km, the distances between neighboring islands range from 50 to 100 km. The total land area is 26 km². The population of the country is 11,206 people. (2011, estimate). The capital is Funafuti.

The Tuvalu Islands were discovered by the Spanish navigator Alvaro Mendaña de Neira in 1568. In 1892, the archipelago became the British protectorate of Ellis Island, and in 1916 - part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. In a 1974 referendum, the Polynesian population of the Ellis Islands voted to secede from the Melanesian Gilbert Islands (later Kiribati), and the following year the archipelago became a separate British colony of Tuvalu. The islands gained independence in 1978. Tuvalu is a member of the UN, the South Pacific Commission and the Pacific Islands Forum.

 

Etymology

The archipelago received its modern name only in 1975, and translated from the Tuvalu language it means “eight standing together” (meaning the eight traditionally inhabited islands of Tuvalu; the ninth, Niulakita, was settled relatively recently). The European discoverer of the islands, Álvaro Mendaña de Neira, named the archipelago the "Lagoon Islands", and in 1819 it received the name "Ellis Islands", which was used for almost the entire colonial era.

 

Physical and geographical characteristics

Geographical position

The Polynesian state of Tuvalu is a cluster of atolls and islands located in the Pacific Ocean just south of the equator. The country's capital, Funafuti atoll city, is located 1,050 km north of Suva, the capital of Fiji, and 4,000 km northeast of Sydney, Australia's largest city. The nearest archipelagos are the Gilbert Islands, which belong to the Republic of Kiribati and are located northwest of Tuvalu, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands, which lie to the southeast and belong to France.

The land area of ​​Tuvalu is only 26 km², while the area of ​​​​the territory occupied by lagoons is more than 494 km². The country is located on 5 atolls (Nanumea, Nui, Nukulaelae, Nukufetau, Funafuti), 3 low-lying coral islands (Nanumanga, Niulakita, Niutao) and one atoll / reef island (Vaitupu), stretching from northwest to southeast for 595 km . The largest island of the archipelago (in terms of land area, not the water surface of the lagoon) is Vaitupu Atoll (5.09 km²), and the smallest is Niulakita (0.4 km²). All the islands are low-lying, and the atolls mostly consist of a few islets, or motu, which are subject to the negative effects of coastal abrasion (mainly the western sides of the islets facing the ocean). The highest point of the country reaches only 5 m.

The northernmost island of Tuvalu is Nanumea Atoll, and the southernmost is Niulakita. The shortest distance between the two islands of the archipelago is 67 km (Nukufetau/Vaitupu), and the longest is 172 km (Nui/Vaitupu).

 

Geology

Five of the nine islands of Tuvalu are atolls (the rest of the islands are raised atolls). According to the theory of Charles Darwin, the formation of atolls occurred as a result of the subsidence of volcanic islands, near the surface of which corals gradually grew. A fringing reef was formed, and subsequently a barrier reef, which was gradually built up by corals. As a result, the land of the atoll arose. Coral and algae growth was most active in the areas of the reef facing the ocean, as a result, these outer edges of the reef kept pace with the subsidence of the volcanic island. The inner regions of the island, on the contrary, were submerged under water. Subsequently, shallow lagoons formed in these places.

Sand gradually accumulated on the surface of the reefs, which was formed under the influence of waves and currents, especially during strong tides. In the tidal zone of the beach, coastal rock was formed, an outer inclined layer of stones. As a result, land plants had a support on which they could grow. On the island, vegetation resistant to high salt content in the soil was formed, which with its roots held together various sedimentary rocks and prevented water and wind erosion. This is how the sand islands, or motu, of the atoll were formed.

A raised atoll is a raised volcanic island resulting from the uplift of a coral platform, or macatea, that surrounds the volcanic plateau at the center of the island.

 

Climate

The climate of Tuvalu is hot, tropical, influenced by the southeast trade winds. There are two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The wet season, during which up to 60% of precipitation falls, lasts from November to April, and the dry season from May to October. The average annual rainfall is about 3000 mm, although sometimes this figure can reach 4000 mm. Thus, Tuvalu has a wetter climate than the Gilbert Islands to the north and the Fiji Islands to the south. The northern islands of the country have a drier climate than the southern ones and are more prone to droughts that can last up to three months. The air temperature remains high throughout the year, ranging from 26 to 32 °C.

The islands of Tuvalu lie in the trade wind zone of the southwestern Pacific Ocean on the border of the equatorial zone of calm. The prevailing wind directions are from the northeast or southeast. East/southeast winds prevail from May to October.

Tuvalu is prone to the negative effects of tropical cyclones, which often reach destructive force. For example, as a result of Cyclone Bebe, almost all residential buildings on the islands were destroyed; more than 90% of the trees were felled, and the remaining 10% were badly damaged; two people died; two ships ran aground. Only thanks to the financial support of foreign states in Tuvalu, it was possible to restore the former infrastructure destroyed by the cyclone.

 

Global climate change

A significant threat to the future of the country is global warming, including the associated rise in the level of the World Ocean, as a result of which low-lying islands no higher than 5 m may be under water. Between 1993 and 1999, ocean waters were advancing on land every year at a rate of 22 mm, and in 1995 - 40 mm, which was significantly higher than the global rate.

Other negative consequences of climate change include coastal erosion, erosion of fringing reefs, salinity intrusion, lack of drinking water, deterioration of groundwater, the economic situation in the country (including a threat to agriculture), and increased risks to public health. Poor living conditions on the country's main island, Funafuti, caused by the growing population of the atoll, ill-conceived land use, lack of drinking water and a number of other factors, only aggravate the current situation. In the event of a real threat to the population of Tuvalu, plans are being considered to evacuate the population (perhaps to New Zealand, Australia or Fiji).

Nevertheless, not all scientists share the point of view that the archipelago will soon be flooded, which is widespread among the public and largely fueled by the media. According to one of the opinions, the increase in the level of the World Ocean in the Tuvalu region may be a temporary phenomenon, which is determined by climatic, oceanographic, geological and a number of other parameters. In addition, the change in the coastal strip of motu atolls is highly dynamic: the land, retreating before the ocean in one part of the island, can grow in another, which was noticed, for example, on the island of Vaitupu.

 

Soils

The soils of Tuvalu are of coral origin. The soil is mainly formed from the remnants of reef materials, corals, calcareous algae, foraminifera and molluscs, so the composition of local soils is mainly carbonate. They are characterized by high alkalinity, porosity (due to which they retain moisture very poorly) and low fertility. At the same time, fertility depends on several factors: first of all, the content and proportion of organic materials, as well as the proportion of coral material. The amount of minerals in the soils of Tuvalu is low, with the exception of calcium. The islands also have phosphate (formed from the droppings of seabirds) and humus soils (the latter in places of mangroves).

 

Hydrology

Due to the small area, low altitude and porosity of the soils, there are no rivers on the islands of Tuvalu. Instead, water percolates through the ground to form a lens of slightly brackish water. Therefore, local residents are forced to collect rainwater from the roofs and store it in concrete tanks. In the past, the islanders got water for household needs from dug wells, but due to the penetration of salty sea water and sewage into underground lenses, groundwater was polluted.

 

Flora and fauna

The flora of the atolls is rather monotonous. This is due to the fact that a significant part of the land of the islands is planted with coconut palms and other food plants. Sun-loving scaevoli, tourneforts, and pandanuses grow on the banks. In the inner parts of the islands there are ferns (among which large Asplenium nidus stand out), canavalesia, mangroves, other shrubs, groves of coconut palms, breadfruit trees, and banana plantations. Often there are broad-leaved tree species - ochrosia, guettarda, calophyllum and others. A total of 86 species of vascular plants have been recorded in Tuvalu, of which 44 are native. None of them are endemic.

The fauna of the country is extremely poor and is represented mainly by introduced species. Mammals include pigs, rats, dogs and cats. The population of seabirds on the islands is insignificant, as they are traditionally caught by local residents. Frigatebirds, cormorants, and petrels nest on motus not disturbed by humans. Small lizards, snakes, land crabs, hermit crabs are widespread.

Tuvalu's marine environment consists of six main types of ecosystems: oceanic, outer reefs, lagoon reefs, lagoon bottoms, isolated reefs, and natural channels connecting ocean and lagoon waters. In total, about 350 species of fish and 30 species of corals live in coastal waters.

 

History

The early history of the archipelago is very poorly understood. The islands of Tuvalu were supposedly settled in 300-500 AD by people from the islands of Tonga and Samoa. Nevertheless, a cave with traces of a fire found on the island of Nanumanga may indicate that the archipelago was colonized earlier.

The European discoverer of Tuvalu was the Spanish navigator Alvaro Mendaña de Neira, who sailed past the islands in 1568. The traveler called the archipelago "Lagoon Islands". Until the 18th century, Tuvalu went unnoticed by other sailors. Only in 1788, part of the islands was discovered by English captains Thomas Gilbert and John Marshall. In 1819, the islands of Tuvalu were explored from the Canadian ship Rebecca, whose captain named the archipelago the Ellis Islands in honor of the owner of the ship.

In the first half of the 19th century, whaling ships began to sail past the islands, but due to the lack of convenient places for mooring, foreign settlements were not founded. In the second half of the century, Peruvian slave traders began to appear frequently in the archipelago, who, between 1862 and 1864, took over 400 people from the atolls of Funafuti and Nukulaelae. In 1865, the first Christian missionaries from the London Missionary Society landed on the islands of Tuvalu.

In 1892, the archipelago became part of the British protectorate of Ellis Island, and in 1916 - part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. During the Second World War, the Allied military base was located on the Tuvalu Islands.

In 1974, a referendum was held in the archipelago, as a result of which the Ellis Islands, where the majority of the population was Polynesian, separated from the Gilbert Islands, which were predominantly Micronesian. The following year, the Ellis Islands became a separate British colony of Tuvalu, which gained independence in 1978.

 

Administrative division

Administratively, Tuvalu is divided into 7 islands (Nanumea, Niutao, Nanumanga, Nui, Vaitupu, Nukulaelae and Nukufetau) and 1 city council (Funafuti).

 

Population

Number and placement

According to the last census in 2002, the population of Tuvalu was 9561 people (including tourists, temporary workers; the resident population is 9359 people). By 2008, this figure had increased to 12,177 (estimate). Despite the fact that the population growth rate increased from 0.6% in 1991-2002 to 1.577% in 2008, Tuvalu's population growth remains quite low compared to other countries in Oceania. One of the main reasons for this is the emigration of the population. In 2001, 1960 representatives of the Tuvalu people lived in New Zealand (mainly in the cities of Auckland and Wellington) (slightly less than 1% of the population of the peoples of Oceania living in New Zealand). There are also diasporas of immigrants from Tuvalu in Fiji (on the island of Kioa, which was rented by the inhabitants of the island of Vaitupu after the Second World War), Samoa, Kiribati (mostly descendants of the Tuvaluan workers of Banaba Island), Nauru (employees of the Nauruan phosphate company).

A significant part of the population of Tuvalu lives in the capital and the only city of the country, Funafuti - 47%. Internal population migration, characterized by the movement of people from outlying islands to Funafuti Atoll, is one of the main trends noted in Tuvalu. For example, in 1992, 42% of the country's population lived on the atoll, and in 1979 - only 29%. This creates an increased load on the resources and lands of the island, leads to coastal erosion, and negatively affects the local ecosystem. The only outlying islands that saw population growth in 2002 were Vaitupu (an increase of 389 people compared to 1992) and Nukulaelae (an increase of 40 people). On all other atolls, depopulation was observed: the most significant was on the island of Nukufetau (the population decreased by 165 people). The highest population density in 2002 was recorded in Funafuti Atoll - 1610 people per km², while in the country this figure was 373 people per km² (the lowest density is in Niulakita Atoll, 83 people per km²).

In 2002, men accounted for 49.3% (4614 people), women - 50.7% (4745 people). The share of the urban population is 47%, rural - 53%.

The level of natural increase in 2008 was 1.577%. The proportion of children under 15 years old in 2002 was 36.4%, of the adult population from 15 to 59 years old - 55%, over 60 years old - 8.6%, thus, the average age of the population was 23.6 years (in 1991 - 25.1 years). The average life expectancy for men, according to a 2008 estimate, is 66.7 years, and for women, 71.36 years.

 

Ethnic composition

The population of Tuvalu is homogeneous: according to the 2002 census, more than 94% of the inhabitants were representatives of the indigenous Polynesian people of Tuvalu, 4.6% were representatives of mixed marriages of Tuvalu and other peoples, and only 168 people (or 1.8%) were foreigners (primarily immigrants from other Pacific islands, most of them are representatives of the Micronesian people of Kiribati).

 

Languages

In addition to English, the official language of the country is Tuvalu, which belongs to the Polynesian languages. It contains a large number of borrowings from the Samoan language, which was used by Christian missionaries in the past. However, speakers of these two languages ​​do not understand each other. The closest language is Tokelau. The total number of speakers of Tuvalu in 1998 was about 10,670 people.

To record 11 consonants and five vowels, an alphabet based on Latin is used. In total, seven dialects of Tuvalu are distinguished, which are divided into two dialect zones: northern (spread on the islands of Nanumea, Nanumanga, Niutao and Niulakita) and southern (the official version of the language; common on the islands of Funafuti, Vaitupu, Nukufetau and Nukulaelae).

The country also has speakers of other Pacific languages: Samoan and Kiribati. Of particular interest is Nui Atoll, which for several centuries was strongly influenced by the Micronesian culture of the neighboring Gilbert Islands, whose warriors captured the island in the 17th-18th centuries. The inhabitants of Nui speak one of the dialects of the Tuvalu language, which is a mixture of the Kiribati, Tuvaluan and Samoan languages.

 

Religious composition

The dominant religion on the islands of Tuvalu is Christianity, introduced to the archipelago by the priest Elekana from the island of Manihiki in 1861. After staying on the islands of Tuvalu for four months, the priest went to Samoa to learn missionary work. Subsequently, Elekana returned to the archipelago, and the islands themselves entered the sphere of influence of the London Missionary Society. In 1969, the Church of Tuvalu (eng. Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu) separated from this missionary society.

In 2002, the proportion of Protestants (Congregationalists of the Church of Tuvalu) was 91% (8521 people), Seventh-day Adventists - 2% (183 people). They were followed by representatives of the Bahai Faith (177 people), the Brethren Assembly, a new Protestant movement, 166 people. Other religious movements are also represented on the islands, but the number of their supporters is small.

All the islands of Tuvalu have traditional chiefs who are also members of the Church of Tuvalu. Most of the followers of other religions are represented in Funafuti Atoll (with the exception of the island of Nanumea, where a large proportion of Baha'i followers are registered).

The country's constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

 

Political structure

Political system

Tuvalu is a sovereign democratic state. The constitution, adopted on October 1, 1978, establishes a monarchical form of government with a Westminster system of parliamentarism.

A number of prime ministers of the country (Saufatu Sopoanga, Maatia Toafa) were supporters of changing the state system of Tuvalu from monarchical to republican, headed by the president (currently the country is part of the Commonwealth of Nations and the British monarch is the official head of state). However, in a referendum held on April 30, 2008, 1260 people voted for the preservation of the monarchy, and only 679 for the transition to a republic.

 

Legislature

The legislature of the country is a unicameral parliament, or Fale I Fono (Tuvalu Fale I Fono) (also called the House of Assembly), consisting of at least 12 deputies, and elected for a four-year term. Deputies are elected on the basis of universal suffrage by a majoritarian system of relative majority in multi-member and single-member constituencies. All citizens of Tuvalu who have reached the age of 21 have the right to be elected to parliament (with a number of exceptions in which candidates are denied registration). Immediately after the parliamentary elections, members of parliament elect a speaker from among themselves The head of state has the right to dissolve parliament if the seat of prime minister remains vacant or if within a certain period of time (it is determined by the sound mind of the head of state) the prime minister has not been elected .

The Parliament of Tuvalu has the right to issue laws that do not contradict the Constitution of the country. Each member of parliament has the right to submit a bill for consideration, a proposal for debate in parliament, to submit a petition to parliament. As one of the forms of responsibility and consultation, all bills, after the first reading in parliament, are sent to local governments (or falekaupule) for consideration and commentary. Exceptions to this rule are those bills for which the governor-general of Tuvalu has vouched, and also those that are not of public importance. In these cases, the Governor-General is obliged to act on the advice of the Cabinet of Ministers.

 

Executive branch

According to the Constitution of Tuvalu, His Majesty King Charles III is the monarch and head of state. The post of head of state is a symbol of the unity and identity of Tuvalu. The head of state is obliged to act only on the recommendation of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Prime Minister or another minister who is endowed with general or special powers of the Cabinet.

The head of state is represented in Tuvalu by a governor-general appointed by him on the advice of the prime minister (with the prime minister having to consult other members of parliament in advance) for a term of four years. Only a person who has reached the age of 50 can become a governor-general. However, he must not be over 65 years of age. The Governor-General acts as the head of state if he is outside Tuvalu or in old age, is incompetent.

In addition to the head of state and the governor general, who, according to the Constitution of Tuvalu, are vested with executive power, there is a Cabinet of Ministers, which is collectively responsible to Parliament for the execution of the executive functions of the government of the country. The cabinet consists of the prime minister and other ministers, who must be no more than 1/3 of the total number of parliamentarians and who are also members of parliament. One of the ministers, other than the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, is the Deputy Prime Minister, who is appointed by the Head of State on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is elected by secret ballot by members of Parliament from among its members. The responsibility of the prime minister and other ministers is determined by the head of state, who must be guided by the recommendations of the prime minister. Overall, the Prime Minister is responsible for the Cabinet and Parliament, constitutional and political affairs, the civil service, government coordination, judicial and legal affairs, broadcasting and information, police, prisons, fire fighting, immigration, religious affairs, national elections, and foreign policy. .

 

Judicial branch

Tuvalu's judicial system includes the Sovereign in Council, the Court of Appeal for Tuvalu, the High Court of Tuvalu and other types of courts (among them: magistrates courts and island courts).

The High Court of Tuvalu is the highest written court, the court of first instance in criminal and civil cases, established by the Constitution. It consists of a presiding judge and other judges, the number of which is stipulated by current legislation. The presiding judge is appointed by the head of state on the recommendation of the Cabinet of Ministers, the remaining judges are appointed on the recommendation of the Cabinet after consultation with the presiding judge. Judges may only be judges who are or have been judges in unrestricted civil and criminal courts in any country whose laws are similar to those of Tuvalu, or in courts that hear appeals from such courts. Also a prerequisite is the presence of five years of practice as a barrister or solicitor. The jurisdiction of the High Court of Tuvalu includes: consideration of issues related to the provision of the Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution of the country; questions on membership in parliament; other issues related to the interpretation and application of the Constitution; hearing appeals against decisions of lower courts.

The Tuvalu Court of Appeal hears appeals against decisions of the High Court, whether it is an exercise of general or appellate jurisdiction. The Privy Council considers appeals against decisions of the Court of Appeal.

 

Constituencies

Voting rights are granted to citizens of Tuvalu who have reached the age of 18. Persons sentenced by a court of any of the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations to death or imprisonment for a term of more than 12 months and subsequently not pardoned are not eligible to participate in elections; recognized as mentally ill; removed from the voter lists for election-related insults. In the event of a prison sentence, a Tuvaluan may only take part in elections three years after his release.

The country is divided into 8 constituencies. The districts of Vaitupu, Nanumea, Niutao, Funafuti are represented in the parliament by two deputies; Nanumanga, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae districts - one deputy.

 

Local government

Local government was first introduced on the islands during the colonial period in the mid-1960s with the establishment of island councils, island courts and island land courts. When this system was introduced, the administration did not attach much importance to the traditional forms of government at the island level, so a number of functions that were performed by traditional leaders ended up under the jurisdiction of the newly formed island councils, which, however, did not enjoy authority among the local residents.

A return to traditional forms of local government took place in 1997, when the Falekaupule, or traditional congregations that exist on every island of Tuvalu, were officially recognized with the passing of the Falekaupule Law. After transferring to them a number of functions previously performed by local government councils, the Falekaupule received greater control over the activities and affairs of the islands, which, in turn, became more independent in resolving internal issues. In total, there are eight falekaupules (on the islands of Vaitupu, Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Funafuti), each of which includes six people. The executive branch of the falekaupule is the kaupule (tuvalu Kaupule), who perform a number of functions mentioned in the Law, except for the election of the pule (head) of the kaupule, the approval of the island budget, regulations and the appointment of employees working in the kaupule.

 

Political parties

There are no political parties in Tuvalu, although there is an unofficial opposition group that consists of people who do not support the government.

 

Armed forces and police

There are no permanent armed forces in Tuvalu, so the country's budget does not provide for the cost of maintaining the army.

However, in Tuvalu there is a police force (English Tuvalu Police Force), which includes units for monitoring the maritime space (the task includes search and rescue missions, intelligence operations), customs, prison and immigration units. Their main task is to maintain law and order, preserve peace, protect life and property, prevent and investigate crimes. In 2007, 81 people served in the country's police. The Tuvalu Police Force is headed by a Chief appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Public Service Commission, which must consult the Cabinet in advance.

In 2003, 2345 crimes were committed in the country (in 2002 - 2370). Of these: against the person of a person - 1666, theft - 591.

 

Foreign policy and international relations

Tuvalu maintains diplomatic relations with more than 28 countries, including Taiwan.

September 18, 2011 Tuvalu recognized the independence of Abkhazia, September 19 - South Ossetia. On October 22, 2011, diplomatic relations were established between Tuvalu and the Russian Federation.

Georgia severed diplomatic relations with the state of Tuvalu on February 16, 2012 due to the recognition of the last independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Previously, diplomatic relations between Georgia and Tuvalu were established in February 2011. On March 31, 2014, in Tbilisi, representatives of Tuvalu signed an act on the restoration of diplomatic relations and withdrew the act of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The only country that has its embassy in the capital of this Pacific state, the city of Funafuti, is Taiwan. The only diplomatic representation of Tuvalu is located in Fiji. The country also has a permanent representative to the UN and honorary consuls in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Japan, the UK, Switzerland and Taiwan.

The main region of Tuvalu's foreign policy activity is the Pacific Ocean, but in recent years the country has begun to take an active part not only in regional, but also in international forums, the main theme of which is the problem of global climate change. Tuvalu is a member of the UN (became the 189th member state on September 5, 2000), the Commonwealth of Nations, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Pacific Islands Forum, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and other international organizations.

 

Economy

General characteristics

The characteristics that determine the economic situation in Tuvalu are no different from those of other countries in Oceania: a huge exclusive economic zone, limited natural resources, remoteness from the main world markets, and a shortage of highly qualified specialists. At the same time, the main factors that can damage the economic stability on the islands are the instability of international investment, the decline in income from ship licensing, natural disasters and fluctuations in world markets.

The economy on the islands is subsistence market: market-oriented economic activity is mainly concentrated in the city of Funafuti, while subsistence economy prevails on the outlying islands. Tuvalu belongs to the countries of the Fourth World, that is, to the poorest in the world.

The country's economy is largely based on the public sector, which accounts for about 60% of the country's GDP. The main sectors of the economy as of 1998 were: public services (25%), construction (16%), trade and services of state enterprises not related to housing and communal services (15%), agriculture and fishing (13%), basic economic activity (31%).

Significant cash receipts are made annually through the Tuvalu Trust Fund, which is an international fund founded in 1987 by Australia, the UK and New Zealand with the support of South Korea and Japan. Thanks to the investments, the capital of the fund increased in 2006 from the initial USD$17 million to USD$77 million.

Despite the existence of a large number of factors hindering the economic development of the country, certain successes have been achieved in the economic sphere in recent years, which can be explained by several reasons: an increase in remittances from Tuvaluan citizens working on foreign ships, good income from issuing licenses to foreign ships for the right fishing in the EEZ, significant cash receipts from the sale of the national top-level domain (.tv), the growth of financial support from foreign countries.

According to the CIA in 2002, the country's GDP was about $14.94 million, and per capita GDP was $1,600. At the same time, its growth over the past decades has been very uneven. For example, in 1998 it reached 19%, in 2000 - 14%, and in 1996 and 1999 it had negative figures: -1% and -6%.

 

Agriculture

One of the important sectors of Tuvalu's economy is agriculture. However, the development of this industry is negatively affected by low fertility, porosity, and salinity (especially after high tides and cyclones) of local soils, many of which are unsuitable for cultivation. Most of these lands are concentrated on the northern islands of the archipelago, where the climate is also drier than on the southern islands.

The main agricultural crop is the coconut palm, which has the widest application. Coconuts are used by the locals for food and also as pet food (mainly pigs). Coconut milk is used to make the alcoholic drink Toddy. Other parts of the plant, primarily the leaves, are used to weave mats, baskets and other handicrafts. The wood of the coconut palm serves as the most important building material and also as firewood. From the oily endosperm of the nuts of this plant, copra is produced - the main export product of the country. However, in recent years, its production has declined significantly (mainly due to low world prices). Other widespread agricultural crops are pandanus, breadfruit, bananas, papaya. The villagers also dig small holes in which they grow the giant marsh taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis).

For their own needs, the islanders breed pigs, chickens and ducks.

 

Fishing

Fish is one of the national treasures of Tuvalu, which plays a very important role in the economy and life of the country and forms the basis of the diet of local residents. The country has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering an area of ​​518,670 km². EEZ fishing rights agreements with other countries in the world provide a significant cash inflow to Tuvalu (for example, in 2000 license revenues amounted to AUD$ 9.7 million or 44% of all government revenues). In the ocean, they are mainly engaged in fishing for fish of the mackerel family, especially tuna species of lat. Katosowonus pelamis. The main partners of Tuvalu in the field of fisheries are the USA, Japan and China.

Approximately 15% of the adult population of Tuvalu work abroad as seafarers on merchant ships, and their remittances are an important source of income for the country: in 2006 they amounted to about $4 million.

 

Transport

In 2002, Tuvalu's highways were only 8 km long. There is no rail transport in the country.

Flights to Tuvalu are carried out by Air Fiji (flights from Suva, the capital of Fiji) and Air Pacific (flights from Nadi (Fiji)). In total, in 2007, 1 airport operated in the country - Funafuti International Airport.

Funafuti has public transport, but the most popular mode of transport is taxis. Funafuti is the country's only port. Despite the small area of ​​Tuvalu, the fleet of this state is 74 ships.

 

Connection

The Tuvaluan press is represented by only two publications: the government newsletter "Sikuleo o Tuvalu" is published in Tuvalu; The Tuvalu English-language newspaper Tuvalu Echoes is owned by the government-owned Tuvalu Media Corporation, which also owns the online news portal Tuvalu News.

There is only one FM station on the islands: "Radio Tuvalu". There are no national television channels in the country; local residents, however, use satellite TV.

Various types of telecommunication services are available in Tuvalu: telex, telephony, Internet. In 2005, there were 900 home phones and 1300 mobile phones in use in the country. In 2002, 1,300 people used the Internet in Tuvalu.

In the early 1990s, in connection with the development of the Internet, the national domain of Tuvalu .tv (translated from English as “television”) aroused particular interest among telecommunications companies. In 1998, the government of Tuvalu sold it to the Canadian company Information.ca, hoping for high profits and a payment of USD$50 million. to the Idealab! Internet Incubator" (headquartered in California). Under the new contract, Tuvalu received a 20% stake in the new company and a minimum income of USD$50 million (the amount was to be paid over 12.5 years at USD$1.0 million per quarter). In 2000, the country received an additional one-time payment of USD$12.5 million. But the domain registration potential was too high, and in late 2001 The .tv Corporation International sold the domain for USD$45 million to another American company, Verisign Corporation. , which is engaged in the registration of sites in the .com, .net and .org domains. Tuvalu received an additional USD$10 million for the signing of the contract. Under the new agreement, the Tuvalu government is also guaranteed annual payments of USD$2.2 million and 5% of the annual domain registration revenue, and Verisign Corporation received the rights to the domain until 2016.

From the early 1990s to 2000, Tuvalu also rented out its telephone code to 688 different telephone sex companies. At the same time, the cash income from the telephone code for the tiny country was quite tangible: in 1999 they amounted to AUD$ 3 million (or USD$ 1.6 million). But for religious and moral reasons, the government of Tuvalu was forced to abandon this source of income.

An additional source of replenishment of the state budget is the issue and sale of postage stamps and coins. The Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau was established in 1978, becoming the third largest employer in Tuvalu by the early 1980s. The peak of the issue and sale of postage stamps in the country dates back to 1980-1981, when revenues in this area amounted to 20% of the state budget. But after the government's attempt to boost stamp production with themes such as "World Leaders", "Cars", "Trains" and "Football Players", the interest of philatelists around the world plummeted. Since then, Tuvalu has not been able to recover its position, and now stamp revenues are much lower than they used to be.

 

Tourism

The tourism sector of Tuvalu's economy is rather poorly developed, and the number of tourists arriving in the country remains quite low compared to other countries in Oceania. The reason for this may be several factors, the main of which are poor air communication with other countries of the world and the high cost of flights, the low quality of the services provided (including the underdevelopment of the hotel sector). Nevertheless, there are prerequisites for the development of ecotourism in Tuvalu.

In 2007, 1130 people visited the islands (for example, in 1998 - 1006 people, in 2003 - 1377 people). The main flow of tourists is directed to the Funafuti Atoll, where the country's only hotel and other tourist accommodations are located. In 2002, 13.46% of Tuvalu's GDP came from tourism. The archipelago is predominantly visited by citizens of Japan, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

Foreign economic relations
In 2017, Tuvalu's main exports are whole frozen fish ($2.01 million), which account for almost half of its total revenue, and chemical products (paints ($333 thousand), polyacetals ($175 thousand), laboratory reagents (170 thousand dollars), etc.).

Tuvalu's main imports are oil products ($8.41 million) - 24%, metals and metal products ($8.94 million - 25%), fishing boats ($4 million) - 11%, and so on. and. building materials and various food products and semi-finished products.

Top export partners: Japan ($2.01 Million), France ($892 Thousand), Bosnia and Herzegovina ($201 Thousand), USA ($152 Thousand) and Australia ($126 Thousand); imports are China ($10.8 million), Fiji ($9.8 million), South Korea ($4.78 million), Chile ($2.7 million) and South Africa ($1.97 million). Tuvalu's total trade turnover in 2017 is estimated at $4.02 million in exports and $35.6 million in imports.

 

Monetary system and finance

The monetary units of Tuvalu are the Tuvalu dollar and the Australian dollar. In the period from 1966 to 1976, only the Australian dollar was in circulation in the country, but since 1976 the Tuvaluan dollar was introduced, which exists only in the form of coins. By itself, it is not an independent currency, but, nevertheless, it has its own ISO 4217 code. In monetary terms, the Tuvaluan dollar is equated to the Australian dollar.

The 2006 budget had expenditures of $23.05 million and revenues of $21.54 million. At the same time, Tuvalu's government spending remains very high: their ratio to the country's GDP fluctuated between 150-220% in the period from 1999 to 2003. It follows that government spending is the main driver of economic activity in Tuvalu. This is due to the fact that the private sector is only in its infancy, and it is unlikely that it will be able to become the leading sector of the economy due to numerous factors hindering its development.

An important source of replenishment of the country's budget are also postage stamps, which are of interest to philatelists from all over the world.

There is no central bank in the country, and the domestic banking system of Tuvalu is represented by only one bank - the National Bank of Tuvalu, which is owned by the government.

 

Culture

Social organization

Even before the arrival of Europeans in Tuvalu, the local population was divided into separate groups, whose members had certain rights and obligations. Historically, each island of the archipelago was politically independent, although there were close ties between the atolls of Funafuti, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae and Vaitupu, based on the veneration of a common ancestor and ritual hierarchy.

The recognized leaders of traditional society, both politically and religiously, were aliki (Tuvaluan aliki), or chiefs whose power was inherited. Possessing great authority, they led the life of the islanders. According to the ideas of the Tuvalu people, there was a close relationship between the supernatural world and the Aliki: in fact, the leader was the shadow of a more powerful and powerful being, to whom the entire universe was subordinate. Any decision of the aliki was final and unchangeable, so every islander was obliged to obey him, otherwise punishment up to death could follow. Aliki's associates and assistants were called tao-aliki (Tuvalu tao aliki). They advised the supreme leader on matters of housekeeping, reported on possible threats, acted as intermediaries between the inhabitants and the aliki, and organized the distribution of land and food among the community members. The oldest heads of the communities enjoyed special respect. They could make comments to Aliki (mainly in matters of food supply and preparation for war), and often consulted him. Women did housework, wove mats, baskets, and made ornaments. Each Tuvalian family, or sologa (Tuvalu sologa), was engaged in a certain business in the community: someone built houses, someone built canoes, and so on.

 

Music and dancing

A significant place in the life of the people of Tuvalu is occupied by music and dances, which are closely interconnected with each other.

Tuvalu's musical style has evolved over several centuries and can be described as "a musical microcosm of Polynesia where modern and older styles coexist". However, many of the music and dance traditions did not survive. The appearance of Christian missionaries in Tuvalu played a negative role in this regard, who distributed songs with religious content and European melody among the islanders and banned the performance of many traditional dances for ethical reasons. For example, before the arrival of missionaries on the islands, traditional music was accompanied by singing, which was like monotonous reading, but later this tradition disappeared, as did special songs that were performed by women while men were working. The theme of the songs was very diverse: they mainly reflected the daily life of the islanders, their feelings and emotions. There were also songs on mythological themes.

In addition to the entertaining function, two traditional Tuvalian dances fakanau (Tuvalu fakanau) and fakaseasea (Tuvalu fakaseasea) had another important meaning: they were performed in honor of the ruling chiefs or distinguished islanders who succeeded in the construction of canoes, fishing, distinguished themselves by courage. Of these two dances, however, only the fakaseasea survives.

Fakanau was a seated dance, accompanied by the movement of the arms and upper body. It was widespread on the islands of Niutao and Nukufetau and was performed mainly by men who sat in a circle. In the center was usually the grandfather, who was considered the most experienced in the performance of the dance and was engaged in keeping the beat. On Niutao, the dance was sometimes performed while kneeling or standing. Despite the popularity of fakanua, the missionaries who arrived on the islands considered this dance too erotic and banned it. The ban was also due to the fact that fakanau also had a religious significance.

The traditional female dance on the island of Niutao was the oga, or onga (Tuvalu oga, onga), which was performed either sitting or kneeling. Fakaseasea, unlike fakanau, is accompanied by a slower melody, and is performed by one or two dancers. The rest of those present sing or beat the beat.

The most famous type of dance, as well as Tuvaluan music, is fatele (tuvaluan fatele), which shows a strong influence of European melody and harmony, and lyricism is the most important feature. The dancers in the performance of fatel sit in two or more rows, so that the best of them are in front in the center. In a semicircle, facing the dancers, men and youth sit, who make up the choir and beat the beat, hitting the mats with their palms (sometimes even small wooden chests).

The only instrument used to accompany dances was a small slotted gong called either nafa (Tuvalu nafa) or pate (Tuvalu pātē, smaller than nafa). Very often, the melody was obtained due to light blows with fans on the palms. During the performance of fakaseasea and fatele, the women and men of the choir strongly beat the mats on which they sat in order to beat the beat of the song in this way, and when performing the og, they clapped their hands.

 

Sport

Tuvalu has its own national football team. However, the national federation is not part of FIFA, while remaining an associate member of the Oceania Football Confederation. The first international match with the participation of the Tuvalu national football team took place on August 29, 1979, in which Tuvalu lost to the national team of Tahiti with a score of 0:18 (this was the largest defeat of the team). Tuvalu's biggest victory was over Tonga on August 31, 1979 at the South Pacific Games in Fiji with a score of 5:3. In 2007, the Tuvalu national team became the first non-FIFA world team to compete in a World Cup qualifier.

The country's National Olympic Committee was formed in 2004 and officially recognized by the IOC in 2007. In total, there are 11 active national sports federations in the country, of which six are members of international federations: badminton, basketball, volleyball, weightlifting, tennis and table tennis. In 2008, the Tuvalu team for the first time participated in the Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing (although it did not win a single medal), and was represented in athletics and weightlifting. The country has never participated in the Winter Olympics.

 

Healthcare

After gaining independence in 1978, the government of Tuvalu expected to build high-quality medical facilities on all the outlying islands, but due to lack of funds, in the end, it was decided to focus all available resources on modernizing the country's only major medical facility, the Princess Margaret Hospital), located on the Funafuti Atoll. The new modern building of the hospital was opened in 2003 (construction was carried out with the support of Japan). Outside the capital of Tuvalu, there are no permanent and private practitioners, and all medical services in the country are provided by the Ministry of Health. Medical visits to remote islands are rare, which negatively affects people's health.

The main cause of morbidity in Tuvalu are various infectious diseases: an alarming number of skin, acute respiratory and eye infections are recorded annually (respiratory tract diseases, primarily influenza, colds, are the most common).

After the state of Tuvalu became a participant in world economic processes, diseases of the wrong lifestyle became common there, associated with an increase in the diet of local residents of rice, sugar, canned food and other non-traditional products. These include diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Children often suffer from diarrhea, gastroenteritis. Of particular concern in recent years are sexually transmitted diseases. They are most widespread among local seafarers who work on foreign ships (they are also at risk of HIV / AIDS). In about 20% of the population of Tuvalu, nematodes were found in the body, which are the causative agents of filariasis (a disease accompanied by inflammation and blockage of the lymphatic vessels, which leads to swelling and swelling of the surrounding tissues).

According to the 2002 census, 49% of men and 3% of women in Funafuti Atoll regularly consumed various alcoholic beverages (on the outlying islands, this figure is slightly lower - 45% of men and 1% of women). Smoking is widespread: two-thirds of the entire male population and one-fourth of the female population of Funafuti are smokers (on the outlying islands - 60% and 25%, respectively).

 

Education

Education in Tuvalu is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 6 and 15. The educational system of the country includes several levels: two years of pre-school education, eight years of primary education and four years of secondary education.

There are a total of 17 registered pre-school educational institutions in Tuvalu, which are managed by various parent associations, which employ educators at their own expense. Historically, the government has never been involved in organizing the activities of these institutions, but in recent years it has begun to pay more attention to them, for example, annual grants are paid to three qualified teachers from each registered preschool, and other material support is provided to improve infrastructure and technical equipment.

Primary schools cater for children between the ages of 6 and 13. After passing the state exam, students continue their education in secondary school, while students are given the right to retake the exam in case of an unsatisfactory grade. In 2006, there were 2,067 students in primary schools (of which 1,102 were boys and 965 were girls), and the number of teachers was 103.

In total, there is one secondary school in the country: until 1998 there were two, one of which was under the control of the Church of Tuvalu. But due to high costs, the church was forced to transfer the school to the government, which, in turn, decided to close it.

After high school, further education can be obtained at the Tuvalu Marine School (eng. Tuvalu Marine School; founded in 1978; maritime studies are being conducted), as well as at the University of the South Pacific, whose campus is located in Funafuti.

Many foreign states, primarily Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and France, provide significant assistance to Tuvalu by financing various educational projects in the country. Some teachers improve their qualifications in foreign educational institutions.