Tuvalu - Profile
- Formerly the Ellice Islands, the name Tuvalu means "cluster of eight", although the group in fact consists of nine low-lying coral atolls. Only eight of them were inhabited when the name was chosen, but a small community now lives on previously uninhabited Niurakita, the southernmost island of the archipelago.
- The islands lie just below the equator and west of the Dateline, their nearest neighbours being Kiribati, 200 miles to the north, and Fiji, 600 miles south. With a total land area of only 11 sq miles (26 sq km), Tuvalu is one of the smallest countries in the world, spread out in half a million square miles of ocean.
- The small island communities still lead a very traditional lifestyle. With the exception of the main island of Funafuti, yachts rarely visit the islands. Although some only have precarious anchorages in the lee of a fringing reef, the lagoon is accessible in at least two islands, at Nukufetau and Nanumea, and there are plans to open passes into some of the other lagoons. Particularly if sailing towards neighbouring Kiribati, one should try and obtain permission from the authorities in Funafuti to stop at some of the outer islands.
- There are cooperative stores selling mostly imported food on all the islands. Local produce is available on all islands, but the selection is limited - taro, coconuts, papaya and bananas.
- Water is scarce, as the islands rely on rainfall. In the rainy season, rain can be heavy and one can easily collect enough.
- There are only simple repair facilities available in Funafuti and nothing in the other islands.
Tuvalu lies on the northern edge of the hurricane belt, and occasionally severe cyclones strike the islands, as did cyclone Ofa in February 1990. There is little seasonal change in the climate, although in October to March strong westerly winds and heavy rainfall can occur. The average temperature is 86°F (30°C).
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.