Planning a trip to Tuvalu?

Find out what visa options are available for your nationality.
Access requirements, application forms, and online ordering.

Economy of Tuvalu

Economy - overview: Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. The country has no known mineral resources and few exports. Subsistence farming and fishing are the primary economic activities. The islands are too small and too remote for development of a large-scale tourist industry. Government revenues largely come from the sale of stamps and coins and worker remittances. About 1,000 Tuvaluans work in Nauru in the phosphate mining industry. Nauru has begun repatriating Tuvaluans, however, as phosphate resources decline, which will present additional problems for Tuvalu's already stretched economy. Substantial income is received annually from an international trust fund established in 1987 by Australia, NZ, and the UK and supported also by Japan and South Korea. In an effort to reduce its dependence on foreign aid, the government is pursuing public sector reforms, including privatization of some government functions and personnel cuts of up to 7%.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $7.8 million (1995 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 8.7% (1995)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $800 (1995 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture : NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Inflation rate - consumer price index: 2.9% (1989)
Labor force: NA
by occupation : NA
note: people make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls and from wages sent home by those working abroad (mostly workers in the phosphate industry and sailors)
Unemployment rate: NA%
revenues: $4.3 million
expenditures: $4.3 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1989 est.)
Industries: fishing, tourism, copra
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - capacity: 2,600 kW (1995)
Electricity - production: 3 million kWh (1995)
Electricity - consumption per capita: NA kWh
Agriculture - products: coconuts; fish
total value: $165,000 (f.o.b., 1989)
commodities: copra
partners: Fiji, Australia, NZ
total value: $4.4 million (c.i.f., 1989)
commodities : food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods
partners: Fiji, Australia, NZ
Debt - external: $NA
Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $1.725 million from Australia (FY96/97 est.); $1.7 million from NZ (FY95/96)
Currency: 1 Tuvaluan dollar ($T) or 1 Australian dollar ($A) = 100 cents
Exchange rates: Tuvaluan dollars ($T) or Australian dollars ($A) per US$1 - 1.2835 (January 1997), 1.2773 (1996), 1.3486 (1995), 1.3667 (1994), 1.4704 (1993), 1.3600 (1992)
Fiscal year: calendar year 

Geography of Tuvalu

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
Map references: Oceania
total area: 26 sq km
land area: 26 sq km
comparative area: 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 24 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
International disputes: none
Climate: tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March)
Terrain: very low-lying and narrow coral atolls
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m
Natural resources: fish
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 100%
note: Tuvalu's nine coral atolls have enough soil to grow coconuts and support subsistence agriculture
Irrigated land: NA sq km
current issues: since there are no streams or rivers and groundwater is not potable, all water needs must be met by catchment systems with storage facilities; 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
natural hazards: severe tropical storms are rare
international agreements: party to - Climate Change, Endangered Species, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Law of the Sea    

Government of Tuvalu

Name of country:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Tuvalu
former: Ellice Islands
Data code: TV
Government type: democracy; began debating republic status in 1992
National capital: Funafuti
Administrative divisions: none
Independence: 1 October 1978 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 1 October (1978)
Constitution: 1 October 1978
Legal system: NA
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II of the UK (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Manuella TULAGA (since NA June 1994)
head of government : Prime Minister Bikenibeu PAENIU (since 23 December 1996) and Deputy Prime Minister Ionatana IONATANA (since 23 December 1996)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: the queen is a hereditary monarch; governor general appointed by the queen on the recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from the members of Parliament; election last held NA December 1996 (next to be held by NA 1997)
election results: Bikenibeu PAENIU elected prime minister; percent of Parliament vote - NA; Ionatana IONATANA elected deputy prime minister; percent of Parliament vote - NA
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Fale I Fono (12 seats - two from each island with more than 1,000 inhabitants, one from all the other inhabited islands; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 25 November 1993 (next to be held by NA 1997)
election results : percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 12
Judicial branch: High Court; note - a chief justice visits twice a year to preside over sessions of the High Court
Political parties and leaders: none
International organization participation: AsDB, C (special), ESCAP, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), ITU, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WTrO (applicant)
Diplomatic representation in the US: Tuvalu does not have an embassy in the US
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 symbolizing the nine islands   

People of Tuvalu

Population: 10,297 (July 1997 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 36% (male 1,871; female 1,803)
15-64 years : 59% (male 2,903; female 3,226)
65 years and over: 5% (male 229; female 265) (July 1997 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.45% (1997 est.)
Birth rate: 23.31 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)
Death rate: 8.84 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years : 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (1997 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 26.9 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.61 years
male: 62.44 years
female : 64.84 years (1997 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.11 children born/woman (1997 est.)
noun: Tuvaluan(s)
adjective: Tuvaluan
Ethnic groups: Polynesian 96%
Religions: Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%
Languages: Tuvaluan, English
Literacy: NA; note - education is free and compulsory from ages 6 through 13