The World’s Smallest Island

10 Truths About Daily Life on Tuvalu

Tuvalu is the second-smallest nation in the world and fewer people live in Vatican City than anywhere else in the world. However, the Vatican is located smack dab in the midst of Rome, and its population benefits from being central to a bigger metropolitan area. So Tuvalu doesn’t have the resources for that. The South Pacific island chain also consists of only those nine individual islands. The islands are, unsurprisingly, rather far from the rest of the world where beautiful though the beaches are, island life is far from ideal. Also, Tuvalu has one of the world’s lowest per capita incomes. These ten facts reveal life on the world’s smallest island!


Number 10: Tuvalu is tiny.

Were we clear that Tuvalu is a very small country? In the middle of your voyage from Hawaii to Australia, you’ll fly high above it. It’s safe to assume that nobody below saw it. Because the total land area of Tuvalu’s nine islands is only 10 square miles (26 square kilometers) Comparatively, that’s a tiny fraction of the size of the nation’s capital.


Number 9: Ancient Migrations Created Tuvaluans

Where did its inhabitants set off for Tuvalu? It’s not like little atolls in the middle of nowhere are a necessity for migrants. However, the ancient mariners’ tale of how they came to establish the islands is an interesting one. Around 800 years ago, people began settling in what is now Tuvalu. Many of the islands to the northwest were settled by Samoans. Over the next several decades, more atolls were populated by settlers from Tonga and Micronesia. They were left alone to prosper for hundreds of years of peace and quiet.


Number 8: Tuvalu’s Economy is Local… BUT?

Income opportunities are limited in Tuvalu. The majority of the population here engages in subsistence agriculture, maintaining seasonal home gardens. Many people also go fishing for food at sea. On the other hand, farming isn’t a lucrative venture if there isn’t enough land to do so. The lack of irrigation only adds to the difficulty. This means that roughly 10% of Tuvaluans have jobs outside of the country. Some people choose to make a living at sea by signing on with merchant ships. Some individuals leave to work in the phosphate mines of Nauru, another South Pacific island. Tuvalu, meanwhile, has to rely heavily on imports.


Number 7: Money Matters Are Complicated

In relation to the topic at hand, money is a constant source of tension in Tuvalu. The remote country is cut off from the majority of global financial networks. True to its name, the islands do not have a single monetary authority. Tuvaluans have one financial institution to choose from: the National Bank of Tuvalu. Roughly half of the stock in the company is owned by the government. This bank continues to serve primarily as a place to deposit funds. This is because Tuvalu uses the United States dollar. It previously outsourced the coin minting process to other countries but found that doing so was both expensive and inefficient. Recently, Tuvalu has adopted the Australian dollar as its official currency.


Number 6:Tuvaluan Handball

Sports are quite popular in Tuvalu, as they are all around the world. Cricket quickly gained popularity on the islands after 1892, when Britain annexed them as a protectorate. The people of Tuvalu loved the game so much that they learned the correct English rules. Also, they put their own twist on it by coming up with a term they call kilikiti. In New Zealand, kilikiti has been the national sport for decades.


Number 5: Limited agriculture is a problem.

The availability of food in Tuvalu has already been highlighted. It’s true that the ocean may provide abundance, yet fishing requires effort and time. Furthermore, it presents some risks. Moreover, commercial fishermen are plentiful throughout the Pacific, and fish migrate seasonally, making it difficult to predict successful fishing. Produce cultivated on land doesn’t fare much better, unfortunately. Tuvalu’s top soils are sandy, salty, and rather thin. So they can’t be relied upon for development. The islands are ideal growing conditions for some foods, like coconut, breadfruit, taro, and bananas.


Number 4: Music Dominates the Islands

Tuvaluans have a special musical tradition and a rich sporting past. The majority of Tuvaluan music has global influences. There is a lot of emphasis on themes related to love, history, and the natural world. The topic of death is avoided at all costs in these folk tunes. Singers continue to have widespread respect. Tuvaluans are incredibly proud of their fellow countrymen who have powerful singing voices. Because of its close proximity to other cultures that value performance as highly as Tuvalu does, this makes a lot of sense. Both the ancient Polynesians and the modern Christian missionaries recognized the transformative power of music. Their combined impact led to Tuvalu’s serious regard for the vocal arts. This custom is still in use today.


Number 3: Tuvalu Prioritizes Family.

Because of the country’s small population, it is common to run into someone you’ve met before in Tuvalu. Obviously, that is not the case. Certainly, not all of Funafuti’s 6,000 residents know one another. On the other hand, the island’s rural character places an emphasis on family. The Tuvaluan concept of the family unit is based on the concept of an extended clan. The typical nuclear family consists of three generations: grandparents, parents, and offspring. Grandparents often act as primary caregivers for their grandchildren. They cook, clean, farm, and fish for a living. The wisdom of the elderly is highly valued in Tuvaluan culture. The elders of the family always have the final say on family matters. Meanwhile, gender roles tend to be conservative. The majority of women in the world take care of children and housework. Outside the home, men fish and farm to provide for their families.


Number 2: Island Peril

Being so geographically isolated renders Tuvalu extremely vulnerable to climate change. While environmental concerns are sometimes used as political pawns in other areas, the nine-island chain is seeing the effects of sea level rise first-hand. People in Tuvalu frequently lament to one another that the country is “sinking.” It’s unfortunate that there aren’t any simple answers. Each year, the relentless waves have a greater effect on the sandy beaches. Due to the limited size of the property, there is nowhere to go. Other problems emerge as a result of these shifts. The islands’ freshwater supplies have been tainted by the salty tides that have been creeping inland. Destroyed farmland has reduced crop production. The best fishing spots certainly aren’t the same as they were in the past. Tuvalu needs international aid very much since its indigenous resources have been depleted.


Number 1: Tuvaluans Don’t Fight Over Political Parties!

It’s obvious that Tuvalu has a lot of work cut out for it. But they do have one thing going for them: no political parties! Tuvaluans benefit from a unicameral government free of political parties, eliminating the need for constant partisan bickering. Each time a four-year term ends, voters vote to renew the mandate of the country’s 15-member parliament. The group then chooses a leader and cabinet ministers. Tuvaluans, however, have no political groups to which they can commit. Organizational political parties are illegal in this country. Politics in that region are instead founded on the ideas and character of a single leader. Of course, politicians establish unofficial coalitions to get things done. But these factions can change shape depending on the topic at hand. Various factors, as discovered by political scientists, influence the effectiveness of island governance. The political leaders of Tuvalu place a premium on reaching a consensus.


 What part of their life do you want to experience?


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Written by Annieth

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