Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from the UK in 1978.
Head of state:
HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor-General Sir Iakoba Italeli since 2012.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga since 2013.
220/240 volts AC, 60Hz (Funafuti only). Electricity in areas outside the capital tends to run off generators. Australian-style plugs with three flat, angled pins are used.
Tuvalu, the world's second-smallest country and, according to the United Nations, one of the least developed, fulfils the classic image of a South Sea paradise. Visitors come to the islands to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and palm-fringed beaches. Pandanus, papaya, banana, breadfruit and coconut palms are typical. Traditional buildings with thatched roofs can be seen virtually everywhere on the islands.
Most activity is centred in the capital, Funafuti, where the greatest attraction is the enormous Funafuti Lagoon. The lagoon is 14km (9 miles) wide and about 18km (11 miles) long and is excellent for swimming and snorkelling. The second most populated island in the atoll is Funafala, which can be visited by hopping aboard the Funafuti Island Council's catamaran. There are no shops whatsoever in Funafala, so visitors should take their own provisions.
Last updated: 31 March 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
There are limited flights in and out of Tuvalu, and these can sometimes be unreliable.
Tuvalu is a Parliamentary Democracy and a Commonwealth Realm. Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State. The Queen is represented in Tuvalu by a Governor General, Honourable Sir Iakoba Italeli.
There are no political parties; politics are based on personal, family and island loyalties. Parliamentary elections are held every four years. The current Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, was sworn in on 5 August 2013, resolving a constitutional crisis and a period of political instability.
In the event of a lost or stolen passport, the Tuvalu authorities can issue emergency travel documents which will allow you to travel as far as Fiji, where you will then need to apply for a replacement passport, from the Regional Passport Processing Centre in New Zealand.
If your need to travel falls within the minimum full validity passport processing time of 3-4 weeks, you should contact the British High Commission in Suva and they will do their best to help you. You may be eligible for an Emergency Travel Document (ETD).
Keep a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport to avoid any complications.
There is one local mobile network in Tuvalu; other international networks will not work while in Tuvalu. Local SIM cards can be purchased in Funafuti.