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Tuvalu

Flag of Tuvalu

Tuvalu country brief

Overview

Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is located midway between Hawaii and Australia in the South Pacific Ocean. It comprises nine islands (four reef islands and five coral atolls). Tuvalu's population is approximately 11,204, with about half living on the atoll of Funafuti, which is the capital.

Political overview

Tuvalu became independent from the United Kingdom in October 1978. It is a constitutional monarchy with a 16-member unicameral parliament elected every four years. Cabinet consists of the Prime Minister, elected by a majority of the members of parliament, and several ministers. The Prime Minister is the head of government. There are no organised political parties and members usually align with informal groupings. Members of Parliament have very close links with their island constituencies.

Tuvalu held its general election on 26 January 2024, and final election results for all 16 seats were announced on 27 January 2024. The Hon Prime Minister Feleti Teo OBE announced the makeup of the Tuvalu Government on 28 February 2024.

His Majesty King Charles III is the Head of State and is currently represented in Tuvalu by His Excellency, Governor General, Reverend Tofiga Vaevalu Falani.

Bilateral relations

The Australian Foreign Minister officially opened the Australian High Commission in Funafuti, Tuvalu on 7 February 2019. The High Commission has enabled Australia to strengthen relations with this important partner and key member of the Pacific Islands Forum. In addition, with the presence of a resident High Commissioner, Australia is able to maximise the impact of our development program in Tuvalu.

Development partnership

More information on our development partnership with Tuvalu.

People to people links

Australia Awards

Australia and Tuvalu have a shared focus on quality education for Tuvaluan students.

Every year the Australia Awards provide scholarships for around 12 Tuvaluan students to study at tertiary institutions in Australia and the Pacific. The awards enable students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to their country's development.

Australia Awards focus on areas of importance to Tuvalu's development, including economic and public sector management, commerce, law, education, health, engineering, climate change and the environment.

More information is available here: Australia Awards website

Labour mobility initiatives

Tuvalu accesses the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme which helps to fill labour gaps in rural and regional Australia by offering employers access to a pool of reliable, productive workers. It also allows Pacific and Timor-Leste workers to take up jobs in Australia, develop their skills and send income home to support their families and communities.

Australia is committed to ensuring the PALM scheme delivers for Tuvalu and plays a central role in realising Tuvalu's National Development Strategy.

More information is available here: PALM scheme - Tuvalu

Volunteers

The Australian Volunteers Program supports partner organisations operating across the Pacific, Asia and Africa to achieve locally-led change and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Program fosters strong connections between Australia and communities globally to contribute to achieving equitable development outcomes.

More information is available here: Australian Volunteers program

Economic overview

Tuvalu is a United Nations-designated Least Developed Country. Tuvalu's remote economy is dominated by the public sector. Fishing licences and marketing of Tuvalu's internet domain name '.tv' contribute to government revenue.

The Tuvalu Trust Fund

In 1987, the Tuvalu Government established a publicly owned investment fund to provide a safety net against fluctuations in government income. The earnings of the Tuvalu Trust Fund are used to help the government finance the gap between its annual budgeted revenue and expenditure.

The Governments of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have made major contributions to the Tuvalu Trust Fund, with smaller grants coming from Japan and the Republic of Korea. Australia is a member of the Trust Fund Board. Revenue from the Trust Fund has enabled the government to undertake development programs, including upgrading outer island schools and fisheries centres.

Trade and investment

Australian merchandise exports to Tuvalu in 2021-22 totalled $7.5 million. Australian currency is legal tender in Tuvalu, but Tuvalu also circulates its own coins.

High level visits

August 2023: The Hon. Pat Conroy, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, visited Tuvalu.

June 2023: Governor-General, H.E General the Hon. David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), visited Tuvalu.

April 2023: Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited Tuvalu.

August 2019: The Hon. Scott Morrison, then Prime Minister of Australia visited Tuvalu, and was joined by then Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Hon. Alex Hawke.

February 2019: Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, then Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, visited Tuvalu.

July 2015: Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, visited Tuvalu.

March 2012: Then Governor-General, H.E Ms Quentin Bryce visited Tuvalu. She was accompanied by then Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, the Hon. Richard Marles.

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