The Western Pacific nation of Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is situated 4,000 kilometers (2,490 miles) northeast of Australia. It is one half of the way from Hawaii to Australia. Tuvalu consists of three reef islands and six true atolls (see Islands of Tuvalu). Its small scattered group of atolls has poor soil and a total land area of only about 26 km², less than 10 sq mi (30 km2).
Tuvalu has westerly gales and heavy rain from November to March and tropical temperatures moderated by easterly winds from March-November. The land is very low-lying, with narrow coral atolls. The highest elevation is 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level on Niulakita.
Location: Oceania, island group consisting of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia.
Geographic coordinates: 8°00′S 178°00′E / 8°S 178°E
Map references: Oceania
total: 26 km²
land: 26 km²
water: 0 km²
Area - comparative: 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 24 kilometres (15 mi)
contiguous zone: 24 nmi (44 km)
exclusive economic zone: 200 nmi (370 km)
territorial sea: 12 nmi (22 km)
Climate: tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March)
Terrain: very low-lying and narrow coral atolls
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location, 4.6 metres (15 ft) on Niulakita
Natural resources: fish
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 100% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: NA km²
Natural hazards: severe tropical storms are usually rare, but, in 1997, there were three cyclones; the low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea-level rise
Environment - current issues: since there are no streams or rivers and groundwater is not potable, most water needs must be met by catchment systems with storage facilities (the Japanese Government has built one desalination plant and plans to build one other); beachhead erosion because of the use of sand for building materials; excessive clearance of forest undergrowth for use as fuel; damage to coral reefs from the spread of the Crown of Thorns starfish; Tuvalu is very concerned about global increases in greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on rising sea levels, which threaten the country's underground water table
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution.
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity
Full article ▸