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Tuvalu is a Pacific island state, until 1975. The total land area is twenty-six kilometers.
In 2008, the population of Tuvalu was estimated to have slightly exceeded twelve thousand. The capital of the state is the city of Funafuti. The Australian dollar and the Tuvalu dollar (in circulation since 1976) are used as official monetary units on the territory of the state. In monetary terms, these currencies are equivalent to each other.
The official languages of the state are English and Tuvalu. As for the latter, one of its characteristic features is the abundance of borrowings from the Samoan language. The administrative units of the state are seven island councils (Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu, Nui, Nanumanga, Niutao and Nanumea) and Funafuti - the city council. The Tuvalu Islands appeared on the map in the sixteenth century (in 1568), a Spanish navigator became their discoverer.
A tropical climate is established over the territory of Tuvalu. There are two distinct seasons: the dry season (starts in May and ends in October), the rainy season (starts in November and ends in April). In the rainy season, up to sixty percent of precipitation falls, on average, about three thousand millimeters of precipitation falls a year (maximum - four thousand). Comparing the climate of Tuvalu with the climate of the nearby islands (Fiji and Gilbert), it can be noted that it is more humid. The northern islands of Tuvalu are prone to severe droughts. Droughts here may not stop for three consecutive months. Throughout the year, the air temperature is kept at around twenty-six - thirty-two degrees Celsius with a plus sign. Tropical cyclones are not uncommon over the territory of Tuvalu, their destructive power often leads to undesirable consequences for the state. For example, the Bebe cyclone knocked down most of the trees on the islands, almost all residential buildings were destroyed, and several people died. The cyclone destroyed the entire infrastructure, which became possible to restore only thanks to material assistance from foreign states.
Climate change poses many threats to Tuvalu. First, it should be said about global warming, which directly threatens the future of Tuvalu. The consequences of global warming are dangerous for the life of the country. Thus, the low-lying islands of Tuvalu may be under water. Climate change is also causing the population to experience a lack of potable water, erosion of fringing reefs and coastal erosion. All this increases the health risks of local residents and worsens the economic situation. The current situation is aggravated by the ill-considered use of land resources, the growth of the population of the main island of Tuvalu - Funafuti atoll. As a result, the deterioration of living conditions. If there is an imminent threat of flooding of the archipelago, the population of the country will be transported to Fiji, Australia, New Zealand - the corresponding evacuation plans are already being developed.
There are no rivers in Tuvalu. It's true. The reason lies in the porosity of the soil, low altitude and small area of the state. This fact leads the islanders to store the collected rainwater in concrete cisterns. Once upon a time, the indigenous people of these places equipped wells, from which they took water for household needs. Everything would be fine, but the groundwater was polluted as a result of the ingress of salty ocean water into it.
The flora of Tuvalu is rich. On the contrary, it is very monotonous, the reason for which lies in the fact that a huge part of the land is allocated for the cultivation of food plants, in particular, coconut palms. On the coasts of the Tuvalu islands, you can see sun-loving pandanuses, tourneforces, scevoles; and if you go deeper into the island, then - ferns, plantations of bananas, breadfruit trees, groves of coconut trees, mangroves. Calophyllum, guettarda, ochrosia and other broadleaf species are also common. In general, eighty-six varieties of vascular plants are registered in the country, of which only forty-four are local. There are no endemics.
The fauna of Tuvalu is diverse. And this is also not true. The fauna of the country is extremely poor. It is mainly represented by introduced species. The "variety" of mammals is limited to cats, dogs, rats and pigs. Tuvalu's seabird population is also negligible. In many ways, the culprits are the islanders themselves, who are engaged in catching them. On lands not disturbed by man, petrels, cormorants, and frigates still build their nests. Approximately thirty species of coral and three hundred and fifty species of fish are recorded in the coastal waters of the islands. Lots of hermit crabs, land crabs, snakes and small lizards.
According to the form of government, Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy. It is a democratic sovereign state. In October 1978, the Constitution came into force on its territory. In the spring of 2008, a referendum was held on a possible change of the form of government from monarchical to republican. However, six hundred seventy-nine people voted for such a transition, while one thousand two hundred and sixty people voted for the preservation of the monarchy.
Parliament is the legislative body of Tuvalu. In the local language it is called Fale I Fono and consists of one chamber. The parliament consists of at least twelve members, whose term of office is limited to four years. The country has a majoritarian electoral system. All citizens of Tuvalu who pass the age limit can be elected to parliament. For a citizen to register his nomination, he must be at least twenty-one years old. At the end of the elections, the deputies independently elect a speaker. In some cases, parliament can be dissolved by the head of state. The competence of the Tuvali parliament includes the right to issue laws. The only thing is that these laws in no way should conflict with the Constitution of Tuvalu. Each MP can submit a petition, submit a proposal for a debate, or the consideration of a draft law.
Agriculture is the most important branch of the Tuvalu economy. Agriculture is indeed one of the most important sectors of the economy of this country. However, the development of this industry is limited by the following unfavorable factors: salinity, porosity of local soils, low fertility. The climate that has settled over the northern islands of Tuvalu, and generally makes their land unsuitable for growing certain crops. The main agricultural crop is the coconut tree. It is widely used in the Tuvalu economy. Coconuts are used to feed domestic animals and are used in cooking by the islanders themselves; baskets and mats are made from palm leaves; its wood is a wonderful building material. In addition, toddy is made from coconut milk - a specific alcoholic drink. In addition to the coconut palm, papaya, bananas, breadfruit, pandanus are cultivated in Tuvalu. Livestock raising in Tuvalu is limited to the breeding of ducks, chickens and pigs.
Fishing is very important in the life of Tuvalu. Fish is the national treasure of this country, whose population simply cannot do without it in composing their daily diet. Tuvalu has a colossal Exclusive Economic Zone. Its area is almost five hundred and twenty thousand square kilometers. The issuance of fishing licenses to other states brings Tuvalu a significant portion of its government revenue (forty-four percent in 2000). In the field of fisheries, the country's main partners are China, Japan and the United States of America.
Tuvalu is a country with poorly developed transport links. There are no railways here, and the length of highways at the beginning of the twenty-first century was only eight kilometers. In 2007, there was only one airport in Tuvalu, located in the capital city. By the way, Funafuti is also the only port in Tuvalu, the fleet is seventy-four ships. You can get to this country using the services of the airline companies "Air Pacific" or "Air Fiji". Both airlines operate flights to Tuvalu from Fiji: the first from the city of Nadi, the second from the city of Suva. Public transport can only be found on Funafuti Island.
Tourism is the second important sector of the country's economy. On the contrary, tourism in Tuvalu is very poorly developed. Tourism revenues in 2002 accounted for only thirteen percent of the country's gross domestic product. If we compare Tuvalu with other states of Oceania, then it becomes obvious that the number of tourists coming to the Tuvalu islands is quite low. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it should be noted the inadequate state of the hotel sector (and generally a low level of service), and secondly, the high cost of flights and difficulties with air traffic. Be that as it may, Tuvalu has all the prerequisites for the successful development of ecological tourism. Most tourists (mainly citizens of New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Japan) come to Funafuti, where accommodation facilities are more or less equipped, there is even a hotel. In 2007, Tuvalu was visited by just over a thousand people.
Tuvalu has a positive foreign trade balance. On the contrary, Tuvalu's imports are significantly higher than exports - for example, in 2006 this excess was almost four million AUD $. Tuvalu is dependent on imports for fuel, machinery, industrial and food products. Tuvalu's export items are coconuts, handicrafts, vegetables, frozen fish, bananas, copra (produced from coconuts), as well as shoes and clothing. In terms of exports, the main partner of Tuvalu is Germany (it accounted for more than sixty percent of exported products in 2006). In addition, cooperation with Fiji and Italy is important. Fiji is Tuvalu's main import partner (this state accounted for more than forty-five percent of imported products in 2006). Other important import partners for Tuvalu are New Zealand, Australia, China and Japan (it is the second most important after Fiji - almost nineteen percent of imported goods).
Aliki are the leaders of the traditional Tuvali society. Each island of Tuvalu has historically had great independence, including political. In general, this did not mean the complete isolation of the islands of the archipelago from each other. Close ties existed between the atolls of Vaitupu, Nukulaelae, Nukufetau, Funafuti. The basis of these connections was the ritual hierarchy and reverence for a common ancestor. Aliki were recognized leaders not only in the religious, but also in the political sense - they led the lives of local residents thanks to their authority. Their power was hereditary, and according to the beliefs of the islanders, there was a close connection between the aliki and the supernatural forces. Alika was the shadow of a being who controls the universe; absolutely every decision of the leader was binding and not subject to discussion. For disobedience, severe punishment was imposed, in many cases associated with the deprivation of life.
Music and dance are of great importance in the life of the islanders. The musical style of the state took shape over several centuries. Now it is an amazing mix of old and modern elements. Unfortunately, many dance and musical traditions have not survived to this day. Fakaseasea and fakanau - two traditional dances of Tuvalu - had several purposes. First, the entertainment function should be noted. But these dances also play a different role. Traditionally, they were performed in honor of distinguished local residents (who showed their courage, succeeded in fishing or building canoes) and, of course, the ruling elite. Unfortunately, only the faqaseasea dance has survived to this day. As for the fakanau dance, it should be noted that it was based on the seated position of the dancer (as a rule, it was a man), who performed movements with the upper body and arms. Fakanau was most widespread on the islands of Nukufetau and Niutao. This dance is collective, its participants took their positions in a circle, and the most experienced dancer sat in the center and watched the keeping time. The disappearance of the dance was associated with the activities of missionaries who found it too erotic. The religious significance of the dance also played an important role in the prohibition. Currently, the most popular dance is fatele (inextricably linked with the music of fatele), when performed, the dancers sit in several rows, with the best ones being in front. Musical accompaniment of dances in Tuvalu traditionally managed with only one instrument - a slotted gong. The islanders can produce additional sounds by knocking on mats, clapping their hands, or blowing the palms with fans.
Funafuti is a capital atoll. It has a drop-like shape and is rather large by local standards - the area of the atoll is slightly more than two and a half square kilometers. The vast lagoon is surrounded by a series of small islands. More than fifty percent of the atoll's population is concentrated on the territory of the islet of Fongafale - in the city of Vaiaku. It is the commercial and administrative center of Tuvalu. Vaiaku is a very colorful settlement. However, there is no smell of industry here - there are no corresponding enterprises. Only 2 very small factories operate - they produce soap and textiles. The development of the city also leaves much to be desired. An analogy with European buildings can only be found near the buildings of the police department, the Vaiaku Lagi hotel, the airport, the bank, and several government houses. The rest of the residential areas are adjacent to burial sites and pens for pigs. The main attraction of Funafuti is the huge lagoon of the atoll. The lagoon can offer all vacationers the opportunity to experience the wonderful underwater world, swim in the clear sea water, admire the superb sunset and sunrise views, or take a trip to the most remote islets of Funafuti.
The Marine National Park is a unique nature reserve. This is the Funafuti Marina Nature Reserve located in the western part of Funafuti. Indeed, it ranks among the most unusual reserves in the world. Funafuti Marina has an area of thirty-two square kilometers - such a large ocean area on our planet is not protected anywhere else. The national park includes the territories of 6 islets (these are Tefala, Fuakea, Vasafua, Fuafatu, Fualopa, Tepuka-Savilivili). They are all uninhabited. A vulnerable coral reef ecocenosis is under the protection of the reserve, there are many turtles, a huge number of seabirds and tropical fish. Flights to Tuvalu National Park are far from regular, so tourists who want to visit it should hire a speedboat or boat in Funafuti.
Nanumea Atoll is the largest in the archipelago.It has an area of over three and a half square kilometers. Nanumea is located four hundred and seventy-five kilometers northwest of the capital island. The atoll is a reef. Outwardly, this reef is very similar to a boomerang. The entire atoll is surrounded by legends. For example, one of the Polynesian legends tells that two women once lived here. Their names were Wow and Pai. They caught fish using large baskets. The sand that got there was poured back into the sea. It was he who formed the islets of the Nanumea Atoll. The same legend says that a certain warrior of Tefolah, who was the ancestor of the islanders who deserved the glory of sorcerers in Oceania, drove these amazing women to Niutao.
Nukufetau Atoll is ideal for diving. This atoll is located slightly north of Funafuti, and its area is about three square kilometers. The deep-water central lagoon makes the atoll such an excellent place for diving that it is not often found among the islands of the Tuvalu archipelago. The lagoon is very well located - it is connected to the ocean by a long and not at all wide passage, due to which various small inhabitants of sea waters constantly wind here. By the way, the atoll has an almost regular square shape, palm groves are comfortably located in the corners of this geometric figure - and this is a wonderful view for connoisseurs of landscape photography and a wonderful place for adherents of secluded relaxation.