Tuvalu

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Overview

Nine atolls. Ten square miles of usually dry land. Twelve thousand people. That’s about all there is to Tuvalu. One of the smallest independent countries in the world in both land area and population, it’s hard to understand why or how such a place could become independent. There is hardly any development...which is not necessarily bad, as much of its population lives a traditional, subsistence lifestyle. Surviving from stamp sales, remittances from Tuvaluans working as merchant sailors, fishing license deals, and proceeds from a trust fund, Tuvalu clings to its independence. Its current biggest fear? Losing land area to rising sea levels due to global warming. There is just nowhere for them to go.

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Basic Information

Location:  Tuvalu is located in the central Pacific, south of the Gilbert Islands, east of the Solomon Islands, and north of Fiji.  The group consists of nine flat atolls comprising a total of 26 square kilometers of dry land.  The name Tuvalu means “eight standing together,” so named because of the eight traditionally inhabited atolls.

Population:  12,177 (2008 est)
Religions: Protestant: 97%; Seventh Day Adventist: 1.4%; Baha’i: 1%; other: 0.6%
Ethnic Groups:  Polynesian 96%; Micronesian 4% (the island of Nui is populated by ethnic I-Kiribati)
Languages:  Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, I-Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
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History

The islands were settled as long as 2,000 years ago by Polynesians who probably arrived from Samoa.  The Tuvaluan language is close to Samoan.  Subsequent migrations or raids from Tonga and Kiribati added to the population mix, although it remained predominantly Polynesian.  In the 1800s the group was given the name “Ellice” islands by a ship captain honoring a financial benefactor of the voyage.  Eventually many European and American beachcombers, often deserters from whalers, settled in, marrying local women and adding new genes to the pool.  Many became traders.  In the 1860s Peruvian blackbirders carried off 400 Tuvaluans to work digging guano on Peruvian coastal islands.  None ever returned.  Also in the 1860s, missionaries arrived and the islanders began to convert to Christianity.  In the 1890s the British made a protectorate of Tuvalu, joining it with the Gilbert Islands to the north.  In 1916 it became the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.

 
During the colonial period, many Tuvaluans moved to Tarawa in the Gilberts to get jobs.  Others went to Nauru to work in the phosphate industry.  After World War II, the Gilbertese in Tarawa began to get jealous of the Tuvaluans’ success in securing government jobs, and Tuvaluans began to feel discriminated against.  In 1975 the Tuvaluans formally expressed their desire to separate from the Gilberts, and Tuvalu became independent in 1978. Since then it has survived from subsistence agriculture and fishing on most of the islands.  The economy is built on remittances from sailors working on ships around the world, a wisely managed trust fund, money from the United States for fishing rights in Tuvaluan waters, royalties from the “.tv” Internet domain name, and sales of stamps and coins.  The Tuvaluans’ main concern is that rising seas caused by global warming will eventually completely swamp the low coral islands and drive off the population.  In 2000 the Tuvalu government requested that either Australia or New Zealand take them if that happens.
 
 
Number of Tuvaluan-Americans and other nationals of the nation living in the U.S.:  There is no data on this.  Most Tuvaluans migrate to New Zealand or Australia, few go to the United States.
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Tuvalu's Newspapers

Tuvalu has a government published newspaper called Tuvalu Echoes, published in both English and Tuvaluan.  It has no web site.  

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History of U.S. Relations with Tuvalu

During World War II there were no battles in Tuvalu, but Americans built bases on three of the atolls.  In 1979 the United States and Tuvalu signed a treaty of friendship, in which the United States dropped its claims to four of the group’s islands.

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Current U.S. Relations with Tuvalu

There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in Tuvalu, and the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu.  He visits Tuvalu occasionally.

             
Tuvalu’s relations with the United States are generally good, but the country is frustrated because the United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.  This is a serious issue for the Tuvaluans, who see their islands as literally washing away in the not too distant future.
more less
Where Does the Money Flow

In 2008 the United States imported a total of $88,000 worth of goods from Tuvalu.  Also in 2008, the United States exported a total of $130,000 worth of goods to Tuvalu, most of that in generators and accessories, electric apparatus, and apparel and other textile goods.  There are no U.S. aid programs currently in Tuvalu.

 
 
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Controversies

The main controversy with the United States deals with the U.S. refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.  In 2002 the Tuvaluan prime minister threatened to sue the United States in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, but he lost the next election and no suit was filed.

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Human Rights
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

U.S. ambassadors to Fiji have been accredited to Tuvalu since 1997.

David L. Lyon 1/9/03-7/23/05
Ronald McMullen, Charge d’Affairs, 6/01-6/02
Hugh Neighbor, Charge d’Affairs 6/02-1/03
M. Osman Siddique 9/13/99-6/30/01
Don L. Gevirtz 2/2/96-9/28/97
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Tuvalu's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Simati, Aurese Makoi

To many people, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu (pop.: 12,177) is best known for the fact that it won the coveted Internet country domain extension .tv. The nation sent a new ambassador to the U.S. late last year who is concurrently accredited as his country's permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, partly because Tuvalu does not own an embassy in Washington, D.C. Aunese Makoi Simati presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 14, 2013, just a month after doing the same with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Simati succeeds Afelee F. Pita, who had served in the U.S. since December 2006.

 

Born on April 22, 1967, Simati earned an undergraduate degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Economics and Geography at Waikato University in New Zealand.

 

Simati joined government service in 1991, spending his first thirteen years at the Tuvalu Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Industries, starting as a rural physical planner in the Department of Planning and rising to senior economic adviser from 1993 to 1994, acting director from 1994 to 1999, and senior assistant secretary from 1999 to 2003.

 

Simati spent the next seven years serving in high positions in three different ministries. From 2003 to 2004, he was acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Transport; in 2005, he served as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development; and from 2006 to 2009, he was permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Industries.

 

From mid-2009 to January 2010, Simati served as permanent secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Office of Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia in Funafuti. From February 2010 until his latest appointment, Simati was high commissioner (i.e., ambassador) to Fiji

 

Ambassador Simati is married to Sunema P. Simati.

 

Official Biography

A Window for Development: Tuvalu Trust Fund (by Aunese Makoi Simati)

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Tuvalu's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Peter Jones 6 years ago
while the earth has always endured natural climate change variability, we are now facing the possibility of irreversible climate change in the near future. the increase of greenhouse gases in the earth?s atmosphere from industrial processes has enhanced the natural greenhouse effect. this in turn has accentuated the greenhouse ?trap? effect, causing greenhouse gases to form a blanket around the earth, inhibiting the sun?s heat from leaving the outer atmosphere. this increase of gree...

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu

Reed, Frankie
ambassador-image

Career diplomat Frankie Annette Reed has been chosen to serve as ambassador to the Pacific island nations of Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru. Her Senate confirmation hearing was held on June 29, 2011, and she was confirmed on August 3.

 
A native of Baltimore, Reed holds a BA in journalism from Howard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1979. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1983, she was a Peace Corps volunteer and a journalist.
 
Reed’s earlier overseas assignments included: political officer in Nairobi, Kenya and Yaoundé, Cameroon; political section chief in Dakar, Senegal, and deputy director in the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs.
 
Her early work at the State Department involved being the desk officer in the Bureaus of African Affairs and Western Hemispheric Affairs
 
From 1999 to 2002, Reed was deputy chief of mission in Apia, Samoa.
 
She served as deputy chief of mission in Conakry, Guinea from 2003-2005.
 
Reed was the consul general and deputy U.S. observer to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France from 2005-2008. 
 
She served as a diplomat-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responsible for relations with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island posts.  
 

more

Previous U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu

McGann, C. Steven
ambassador-image

C. Steven McGann, a longtime member of the Foreign Service whose work has spanned from Africa to South Asia, received his first ambassadorship in being selected to be the United States’ top envoy to Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, and Nauru. He assumed his position on October 8, 2008.

 
McGann attended university at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. He then pursued graduate studies in comparative government at Cornell University (1975-1978).
 
After joining the Foreign Service, his first overseas posts were in Taiwan, Zaire, South Africa, Australia and Kenya.
 
In 1998 McGann was sent to the U.S. Mission at the United Nations, where he developed and implemented Security Council strategies for Afghanistan, Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Chechnya, as well as peacekeeping operations in Georgia and Tajikistan.
 
In 2000, McGann was appointed South Asia Bureau Deputy Director for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
 
Three years later he earned a Masters of Science degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University.
 
 
In 2007, McGann participated in the Fourth Joint Force Maritime Commander Component Course at the Naval War College.
 
 
McGann and his wife, Bertra, have four sons and a daughter.
 

more
Bookmark and Share
News
more less
Overview

Nine atolls. Ten square miles of usually dry land. Twelve thousand people. That’s about all there is to Tuvalu. One of the smallest independent countries in the world in both land area and population, it’s hard to understand why or how such a place could become independent. There is hardly any development...which is not necessarily bad, as much of its population lives a traditional, subsistence lifestyle. Surviving from stamp sales, remittances from Tuvaluans working as merchant sailors, fishing license deals, and proceeds from a trust fund, Tuvalu clings to its independence. Its current biggest fear? Losing land area to rising sea levels due to global warming. There is just nowhere for them to go.

more less
Basic Information

Location:  Tuvalu is located in the central Pacific, south of the Gilbert Islands, east of the Solomon Islands, and north of Fiji.  The group consists of nine flat atolls comprising a total of 26 square kilometers of dry land.  The name Tuvalu means “eight standing together,” so named because of the eight traditionally inhabited atolls.

Population:  12,177 (2008 est)
Religions: Protestant: 97%; Seventh Day Adventist: 1.4%; Baha’i: 1%; other: 0.6%
Ethnic Groups:  Polynesian 96%; Micronesian 4% (the island of Nui is populated by ethnic I-Kiribati)
Languages:  Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, I-Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
more less
History

The islands were settled as long as 2,000 years ago by Polynesians who probably arrived from Samoa.  The Tuvaluan language is close to Samoan.  Subsequent migrations or raids from Tonga and Kiribati added to the population mix, although it remained predominantly Polynesian.  In the 1800s the group was given the name “Ellice” islands by a ship captain honoring a financial benefactor of the voyage.  Eventually many European and American beachcombers, often deserters from whalers, settled in, marrying local women and adding new genes to the pool.  Many became traders.  In the 1860s Peruvian blackbirders carried off 400 Tuvaluans to work digging guano on Peruvian coastal islands.  None ever returned.  Also in the 1860s, missionaries arrived and the islanders began to convert to Christianity.  In the 1890s the British made a protectorate of Tuvalu, joining it with the Gilbert Islands to the north.  In 1916 it became the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.

 
During the colonial period, many Tuvaluans moved to Tarawa in the Gilberts to get jobs.  Others went to Nauru to work in the phosphate industry.  After World War II, the Gilbertese in Tarawa began to get jealous of the Tuvaluans’ success in securing government jobs, and Tuvaluans began to feel discriminated against.  In 1975 the Tuvaluans formally expressed their desire to separate from the Gilberts, and Tuvalu became independent in 1978. Since then it has survived from subsistence agriculture and fishing on most of the islands.  The economy is built on remittances from sailors working on ships around the world, a wisely managed trust fund, money from the United States for fishing rights in Tuvaluan waters, royalties from the “.tv” Internet domain name, and sales of stamps and coins.  The Tuvaluans’ main concern is that rising seas caused by global warming will eventually completely swamp the low coral islands and drive off the population.  In 2000 the Tuvalu government requested that either Australia or New Zealand take them if that happens.
 
 
Number of Tuvaluan-Americans and other nationals of the nation living in the U.S.:  There is no data on this.  Most Tuvaluans migrate to New Zealand or Australia, few go to the United States.
more less
Tuvalu's Newspapers

Tuvalu has a government published newspaper called Tuvalu Echoes, published in both English and Tuvaluan.  It has no web site.  

more less
History of U.S. Relations with Tuvalu

During World War II there were no battles in Tuvalu, but Americans built bases on three of the atolls.  In 1979 the United States and Tuvalu signed a treaty of friendship, in which the United States dropped its claims to four of the group’s islands.

more less
Current U.S. Relations with Tuvalu

There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in Tuvalu, and the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu.  He visits Tuvalu occasionally.

             
Tuvalu’s relations with the United States are generally good, but the country is frustrated because the United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.  This is a serious issue for the Tuvaluans, who see their islands as literally washing away in the not too distant future.
more less
Where Does the Money Flow

In 2008 the United States imported a total of $88,000 worth of goods from Tuvalu.  Also in 2008, the United States exported a total of $130,000 worth of goods to Tuvalu, most of that in generators and accessories, electric apparatus, and apparel and other textile goods.  There are no U.S. aid programs currently in Tuvalu.

 
 
more less
Controversies

The main controversy with the United States deals with the U.S. refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.  In 2002 the Tuvaluan prime minister threatened to sue the United States in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, but he lost the next election and no suit was filed.

more less
Human Rights
more less
Debate
more less
Past Ambassadors

U.S. ambassadors to Fiji have been accredited to Tuvalu since 1997.

David L. Lyon 1/9/03-7/23/05
Ronald McMullen, Charge d’Affairs, 6/01-6/02
Hugh Neighbor, Charge d’Affairs 6/02-1/03
M. Osman Siddique 9/13/99-6/30/01
Don L. Gevirtz 2/2/96-9/28/97
more less
Tuvalu's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Simati, Aurese Makoi

To many people, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu (pop.: 12,177) is best known for the fact that it won the coveted Internet country domain extension .tv. The nation sent a new ambassador to the U.S. late last year who is concurrently accredited as his country's permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, partly because Tuvalu does not own an embassy in Washington, D.C. Aunese Makoi Simati presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on January 14, 2013, just a month after doing the same with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Simati succeeds Afelee F. Pita, who had served in the U.S. since December 2006.

 

Born on April 22, 1967, Simati earned an undergraduate degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Economics and Geography at Waikato University in New Zealand.

 

Simati joined government service in 1991, spending his first thirteen years at the Tuvalu Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Industries, starting as a rural physical planner in the Department of Planning and rising to senior economic adviser from 1993 to 1994, acting director from 1994 to 1999, and senior assistant secretary from 1999 to 2003.

 

Simati spent the next seven years serving in high positions in three different ministries. From 2003 to 2004, he was acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Transport; in 2005, he served as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development; and from 2006 to 2009, he was permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Industries.

 

From mid-2009 to January 2010, Simati served as permanent secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Office of Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia in Funafuti. From February 2010 until his latest appointment, Simati was high commissioner (i.e., ambassador) to Fiji

 

Ambassador Simati is married to Sunema P. Simati.

 

Official Biography

A Window for Development: Tuvalu Trust Fund (by Aunese Makoi Simati)

more less
Tuvalu's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
more less

Comments

Peter Jones 6 years ago
while the earth has always endured natural climate change variability, we are now facing the possibility of irreversible climate change in the near future. the increase of greenhouse gases in the earth?s atmosphere from industrial processes has enhanced the natural greenhouse effect. this in turn has accentuated the greenhouse ?trap? effect, causing greenhouse gases to form a blanket around the earth, inhibiting the sun?s heat from leaving the outer atmosphere. this increase of gree...

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu

Reed, Frankie
ambassador-image

Career diplomat Frankie Annette Reed has been chosen to serve as ambassador to the Pacific island nations of Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru. Her Senate confirmation hearing was held on June 29, 2011, and she was confirmed on August 3.

 
A native of Baltimore, Reed holds a BA in journalism from Howard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1979. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1983, she was a Peace Corps volunteer and a journalist.
 
Reed’s earlier overseas assignments included: political officer in Nairobi, Kenya and Yaoundé, Cameroon; political section chief in Dakar, Senegal, and deputy director in the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs.
 
Her early work at the State Department involved being the desk officer in the Bureaus of African Affairs and Western Hemispheric Affairs
 
From 1999 to 2002, Reed was deputy chief of mission in Apia, Samoa.
 
She served as deputy chief of mission in Conakry, Guinea from 2003-2005.
 
Reed was the consul general and deputy U.S. observer to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France from 2005-2008. 
 
She served as a diplomat-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responsible for relations with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island posts.  
 

more

Previous U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu

McGann, C. Steven
ambassador-image

C. Steven McGann, a longtime member of the Foreign Service whose work has spanned from Africa to South Asia, received his first ambassadorship in being selected to be the United States’ top envoy to Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, and Nauru. He assumed his position on October 8, 2008.

 
McGann attended university at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. He then pursued graduate studies in comparative government at Cornell University (1975-1978).
 
After joining the Foreign Service, his first overseas posts were in Taiwan, Zaire, South Africa, Australia and Kenya.
 
In 1998 McGann was sent to the U.S. Mission at the United Nations, where he developed and implemented Security Council strategies for Afghanistan, Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Chechnya, as well as peacekeeping operations in Georgia and Tajikistan.
 
In 2000, McGann was appointed South Asia Bureau Deputy Director for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
 
Three years later he earned a Masters of Science degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University.
 
 
In 2007, McGann participated in the Fourth Joint Force Maritime Commander Component Course at the Naval War College.
 
 
McGann and his wife, Bertra, have four sons and a daughter.
 

more