Tuvalu is a small independent country in the Pacific Ocean. It is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. The country covers only 26 sq km (10 sq mi), and comprise four reef islands and five atolls. It is one of the tiniest countries of the world. With a population of just 10,500, it is the third least populated sovereign nation in the world. Only the Vatican City (0.44 sq km), Monaco (1.95 sq km) and Nauru (21 sq km) are smaller. The capital and only major town is Funafuti.
Tuvalu is 12 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+12). The official languages are Tuvaluan and English. The official currency is the Tuvaluan dollar, but the Australian dollar is commonly used. Traffic is driven on the left here, just as in Britain and Australia. The electricity is 240V/50Hz. The phone IDD code is +688.
Tuvalu had an estimated GDP at purchasing power parity of $14.94 million in 2002. This is equivalent to $1,600 per capita. With almost no natural resources, Tuvalu is a nation dependent on foreign aid to survive. Formerly a large number of Tuvaluans worked in the phosphate mine of Nauru, but were stranded there when the mines ceased operations. So far Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea have all contributed funds to support Tuvalu.
Tourism in Tuvalu can be considered still in its infancy. The infrastructure is still basic. Most of the people who are employed work in the government sector. The inhabitants of Tuvalu are Polynesians who first settled on Tuvalu some 3,000 years ago. It was first sighted by Europeans in the 16th century. Tuvalu was formerly known as Ellice's Island, named after an English politician Edward Ellice. Tuvalu was a British colony until it gained independence on 1 October, 1978.
Visitors from most countries are given a three-month entry permit on arrival. The Funafuti International Airport (FUN) receives flights by Air Pacific connecting it with Suva, Fiji, so that is the only way to reach Tuvalu.