Discover more about Tuvalu, the tiny Pacific nation that has enjoyed independence for nearly 50 years.
Consisting of nine “islands”, Tuvalu sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Of the nine islands, three are true islands (Nanumanga, Niutao, Niulakita), and six are actually atolls (Funafuti, Nanumea, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae and Vaitupu).
Studies in Tuvalu’s Caves of Nanumanga claim to have found evidence of fire from thousands of years ago, although its validity is disputed. It was certainly inhabited long before European settlers spied the islands in the mid-16th century. Various European expeditions across the Pacific gave the islands different names, without ever settling there permanently, until Arent Schuyler de Peyster labelled Nukufetau and Funafuti as “Ellice’s Islands or “the Ellice Islands” after the English politician Edward Ellice. The name was later extended to include all nine islands.
In the mid-19th century Christian missionaries became more frequent visitors, while Peruvian ships began recruiting (or kidnapping, depending on which side of the debate you sit on) men from islands in the Pacific, including those making up Tuvalu, to help with the extreme labour shortage that they were experiencing. In 1892 the Ellice Islands became a British Protectorate, and then in 1916 the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony (made up of Tuvalu with what is now Kirbati) became an official British colony.
In the Second World War the islands were occupied by Japanese soldiers before locals helped American troops build small airfields and stations to unload supplies from American ships. One of these airfields was later developed into Funafuti International Airport.
With the end of the Second World War came the the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization. Local government processes were introduced until Tuvalu had its own general election in 1974. A year later it became a separate British dependency, before gaining full independence in 1978. In 2000, Tuvalu joined the United Nations.
Tuvalu are competing at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup, here’s everything you need to know about the tournament.
An official independent state, Tuvalu has its own language, currency, religion, government (headed up by its president), and enjoys good relationships with neighbouring nations. It gained its independence from Great Britain in the late 1970s, but Elizabeth II remains the nation’s official monarch.
The majority of Tuvalu’s population are of Polynesian descent, with a Micronesian minority. Similarly, the Tulavuan language also has its roots in Polynesia, and is similar to Samoan, Tongan and Maori. Although English is also a national language, it is used very little in day-to-day life by most Tulavuans.
According to the country’s constitution, there is a freedom to practice any religion, but over 90% adhere to the Church of Tuvalu. There are tiny pockets of other religions, including forms of Catholicism and Islam.
Population: 10,600 approx.
Major languages: Tuvaluan, English
Currency: Tuvaluan dollar, Australian dollar
Major religions: Church of Tuvalu
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.