10 Amazing Facts About Tuvalu You Never Knew

Tuvalu is an independent island nation within the British Commonwealth.  There are 9 small islands altogether and they are all sparsely populated.  They are covered with reefs and palm-fringed beaches.  The marine area includes several uninhabited islets that only home to birds.

Those are generally known facts about the country.  And there lots more of such.  But there are other facts that border on the amazing about Tuvalu which many people do not know.  Here are a few examples.

What strong tradition is prevalent in Tuvalu?  Should you transgress against the community in Tuvalu, what is one prominent way to ask for forgiveness?  What are children and persons of lower status not allowed to do in front of elders and persons of higher status?  What is cross-sex interaction like in Tuvaluan families?

You will get the answers to these and more in the following 10 amazing facts about Tuvalu.  Happy reading.

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Capital:                         Vaiaku (Funafuti)

Population:                   13,000 (2016 estimate)

Language:                     English, Tuvaluan

Currency:                      Tuvalu Dollar; Australian Dollar

Government:                 Non-Partisan Parliamentary democracy

Monarch:                      Queen Elizabeth II

Prime Minister:              Enele Sopoaga

Governor General:         Iakoba Italeli


Amazing Facts About Tuvalu

1. Chiefs as Village Heads

You would find that in most villages, Chiefs or Aliki serve as the head.  These share powers with Christian missionaries who have now taken over the positions that spirit mediums used to hold before the advent of Christianity.

2. Obligation to Kin

Tuvaluans are very obligated to kin.  Family relationships matter a whole lot to them.  And the amazing part is that this obligation to kin is what now controls the caste-generated upward mobility of individual in business or public service.

3. Status Guarantee

You will find that having and/or wearing pearl shell fishing lure necklaces guarantees one a seat at the head post at meetings.  This same thing is what also guarantees one the entitlement to the head of all turtles caught during fishing.

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4. Volunteerism Tradition

There is a strong tradition of volunteerism in Tuvalu.  For instance, persons and families could present food, services, and money to the community on occasions.  Such occasions could be a child’s educational achievement or a wedding.  Is that not amazing?

5. Begging for Forgiveness

If you hurt or transgressed against the community, such as by causing a fight, one sure way to ask for forgiveness is feeding the entire island.  For someone visiting the island, this is a great piece of advice to store in your head, even if you don’t know anything else.

6. Competitive Funding

Tuvaluans also frequently engage in competitive funding, fund raising, and a number of other resource pooling activities.  The amazing aspect of it is that they usually give the product of such activities to those they consider most in need of it.  Sometimes it is a neighbouring island.

7. Behaviour around Higher People

Children and persons considered to be of lower status are not allowed to cross right in front of those of higher status.  They are also not allowed to stand above them or touch their heads.  Maintaining a jovial and convivial demeanor is of utmost importance.

8. Constrained Cross-Sex Interaction

Within the family, you will notice that there is the most constrained cross-sex interaction between siblings, first, second, and even third cousins.  Even more amazing is that today, they even have to avoid each other totally except for things considered most necessary.

9. Forbidden Jokes subject

Joking or talking about the functions of private body parts by related persons, no matter the distance of such relationship is considered taboo. If a friend of yours is a Tuvaluan, it is best to keep this fact in mind when talking about his/her relative of the opposite sex.

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10. Strange Relationships

Parents and children in Tuvalu usually do not have cordial relationships.  Their relationships are by tradition distant and undemonstrative.  However, relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, adoptive parents and adoptive children, and mother’s brother and sister’s child tend to be warm and affectionate.  Isn’t that totally amazing?!


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