Before Alvaro de Mendaña de Neyra discovered part of the atolls of today’s Tuvalu at the end of the 16th century, the islands had already been colonized by Polynesians, Samoans and seafarers from Tonga. The remaining atolls were only discovered by the English in the 19th century. English merchants settled on the islands in 1820 and traded in coconuts, later in slaves. A mission station was built on Funafuti in 1865. The nine atolls were named Ellice Islands (after a British MP), in 1896 they were combined with the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) to the north to form the “Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate” and in 1915 British crown colony.
- COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Tuvalu. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Tuvalu flags.
Second World War
During the Second World War, the Japanese threatened to take over the Ellice Islands after the Gilbert Islands. This was prevented by American military bases built on three of the atolls from 1940 onwards. From the islands of what is now Tuvalu, the Gilbert Islands were liberated from the Japanese occupation by Australian and American troops in 1943.
According to AbbreviationFinder, Great Britain gradually granted the crown colony internal self-government in the 1960s; rivalries between the two island groups of Gilbert and Ellice Islands resulted from the reforms that had been initiated. In 1974 90% of Tuvalu’s population spoke out for an independent and separate status of their archipelago, two years later the separation took place. In 1977 a parliament with 12 deputies was elected for the first time. On October 1, 1978 (today’s National Day), the Ellice Islands became independent as Tuvalu (which means “eight hold together”) under the British Commonwealth.
In 1987, the “Tuvalu Trust Fund” was founded by Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain in order to provide the state, which is dependent on international development aid, with a regular source of income. Tuvalu has only limited economic development opportunities due to its small land mass, nutrient-poor soils and a lack of raw materials.
In 2000 Tuvalu was accepted as the 189th member of the United Nations (UN).
A major problem at the beginning of the new millennium is the sharp increase in the population and the risk of flooding the national territory due to the rising sea level (estimates assume that the maximum area of three meters – but usually only two meters – protruding from the water is the Tuvalus Part will be flooded by the middle of this century). The salinization of drinking water is also a problem that arises from this.