Tuvalu is one of the smallest independent nations in the world, consisting of nine coral atolls and reef islands stretching over some 590 kilometres of the South Pacific. The islands are considered to be at risk from global warming and sea level rise.
Colonised by Britain as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands) became independent in 1978, after separation from the Micronesian Gilbert Islands (which became Kiribati).
Main languages: Tuvaluan
Main religions: Christianity (Congregational Church of Tuvalu)
The majority of the population of Tuvalu is Polynesian. Other than a small number of expatriate workers, there are few migrants in Tuvalu and no minority populations. There has been substantial migration to the main island, Funafuti, where half the population now live, and recent emigration, especially to New Zealand.
Tuvalu has a single twelve seat parliament. There are no political parties. The economy is dependent on aid, mostly invested in a Trust Fund, remittances from overseas Tuvaluans and income from its .tv net domain. The effective closure of the Nauru phosphate mine in 2005, the loss of remittances and the return migration of Tuvaluan workers from there put pressure on the economy. Through its maritime school, Tuvalu trains seafarers who work on European shipping lines, and contribute significant remittances to the economy.