Tuvaluan dollar, Australian do
Facts about Tuvalu
Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls. Its population of 10,472 makes it the third-least populous sovereign state in the world, with only Vatican City and Nauru having fewer inhabitants. In terms of physical land size, at just 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi) Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world, larger only than the Vatican City at 0.44 km2 (0.17 sq mi), Monaco at 1.95 km2 (0.75 sq mi) and Nauru at 21 km2 (8.1 sq mi).
The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesian people. In 1568 Spanish navigator Alvaro Mendaña discovered the islands during his expedition in search of Terra Australis. The islands came under Britain's sphere of influence in the late 19th century. The name Ellice was applied to all nine islands after the work of English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay (1812–1876) The Ellice Islands were administered by Britain as part of a protectorate from 1892 to 1916 and as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony from 1916 to 1974. In 1974, the Ellice Islanders voted for separate British dependency status as Tuvalu, separating from the Gilbert Islands which became Kiribati upon independence. Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on October 1, 1978. On September 5, 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.