Wednesday, 23rd August 2017

Too many Tuvaluans? (1/2)

Posted on 17. Jul, 2011 by Florent Baarsch in Adaptation to climate change, Sustainability

The roofs through the leaves on Funafuti

Sometimes used as a symbol of the disappearing States because of climate change, sometimes being the hero of the international climate negotiations, Tuvalu is above all a developing State with already existing vulnerabilities and issues. Among these vulnerabilities (oil dependency, unsecured access to food and water…), over population has an influence on all of them and amplify them significantly.

An extremely high population density:

When I flew over Funafuti, the capital island of Tuvalu, for the first time, I was surprised to see that through the leaves of the coconut trees there were rooftops occupying all the space of the island. Once on the ground, the impression is quite similar: many houses, buildings piggeries and – of course – people.

Tuvalu is a small piece of land, only 26km2 for a population of 11 000 inhabitants. Resulting in an incredible population density of about 423 persons per square kilometre. To compare: In France we are 112 and in Norway just 14…. In population density, Tuvalu rank at the 13th position among all the countries of the planet.

However, the situation on Tuvalu is far more contrasted. On the capital island, Funafuti, more than 5 000 people live on only 2,4km2 (as the islanders have gathered on just one of the islets, Fogafale, the real areal is even smaller, about 1,4 km2). In other terms, it means that close to 2 000 persons live on each square kilometre of the atoll; and “only” 260 for the outer islands. This calculation does however not take into account the fact that there is an airstrip of one-kilometre long crossing the broadest part of Fogafale!

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