Full name: Tuvalu
Population: 11,000 (UN, 2010)
Area: 26 sq km (10 sq miles)
Major language: Tuvaluan, English
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 62 years (men), 65 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Tuvaluan dollar, or 1 Australian dollar = 100 cents
Main exports: Copra, handicrafts
GNI per capita: Estimated to be lower middle income: $996 to $3,945 (World Bank, 2009)
Internet domain: .tv
International dialling code: +688
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor
Prime minister: Willy Telavi
Tuvalu is an archipelago consisting of nine islands: (from the north to the south) Nanumea, Nanumanga, Niutao, Nui, Vaitupu, Funafuti, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Niulakita. Some outspoken politicians made Tuvalu known for its low-lying position during the 1990s and early 2000. Tuvalu’s highest point is 4,5 meter above sea-level. However, most of the land is much lower. Life on the islands is simple and often harsh. There are no streams or rivers and human pollution has made most of the ground water unsuitable for drinking, so the collection of rain is essential. Coconut palms cover most of the islands. In addition traditional crops include the root vegetables pulaka and taro, the breadfruit, banana and papaya. Increasing salinzation of the soil threatens traditional subsistence farming.
Tuvalu depends on foreign aid. Apart from the income from selling tuna fishing licences, the interests from the Tuvalu trust fund, set up in 1987, the revenue from selling the domain .tv and postage stamps, the country has no independent income.
Tuvalu is one of a handful of countries to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which has funded the construction of Tuvalu’s largest building – a three-storey administrative headquarters. The Taiwanese embassy is the only foreign embassy in the country.
Tuvalu has no political parties. Allegiances revolve around personalities and geography: each of the eight islands elect two MPs, except the southern islands: Nukulaelae elects one and Niulakita has no MP. The 15-member parliament is popularly elected every four years. The prime minister is chosen by MPs.
The only national news channel is Radio Tuvalu, a state owned FM-station reporting directly to the Prime Ministers office.