Tuvalu : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 
Life expectancy: 
65 years (est.)

10,000 (2013); population density on inhabited islands very high, especially on Funafuti; 58 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 0.4 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 24 per 1,000 people (est.); life expectancy 65 years (est.)

In February 2000, a request was made to New Zealand for resettlement of about one-third of Tuvalu’s population who were threatened by rising sea level.

The Tuvaluans are a Polynesian people.


Tuvaluan and English are official languages. The people of Nui Island speak the language of Kiribati, I-Kiribati.


Mainly Christians, mostly of the Church of Tuvalu (Ekalesia Tuvalu), autonomous since 1968 and derived from the Congregationalist foundation of the London Missionary Society. There are small Roman Catholic communities on Nanumea and Nui, and some Seventh Day Adventists and Baha’is.


Public spending on health was 15 per cent of GDP in 2012. There is a hospital on Funafuti and dispensaries on all the permanently inhabited islands. Health is generally good; there are occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne dengue fever but no malaria. Some 98 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 83 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Infant mortality was 24 per 1,000 live births in 2013.


There are seven years of compulsory education starting at the age of six. Primary school comprises seven years and secondary six, with cycles of four and two years. There are ten state primary schools, two on the island of Vaitupu and one on each of the other eight inhabited islands. There is one state secondary boarding school on Vaitupu, with about 600 students, and one private secondary school run by the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu. The school year starts in February.

The Maritime Training Institute on Funafuti (founded in 1979) provides vocational and technical training for those seeking employment on ships and fishing boats and in-service training for serving seamen. The Technical Education Centre offers training in building trades, while Tuvalu is a partner in the regional University of the South Pacific, which has its main campus in Suva, Fiji, and a campus on Funafuti.


The government publishes Tuvalu Echoes fortnightly in Tuvaluan and English, and a news sheet, Sikuleo o Tuvalu, in Tuvaluan.

Tuvalu Media Corporation provides Radio Tuvalu, a public radio service to all the islands. There is access to foreign TV broadcasts via satellite.

There are 86 personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).


Country code 688; internet domain ‘.tv’. There is internet access and a post office in Funafuti.

For every 1,000 people there are 147 landlines, 344 mobile phone subscriptions and 370 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, Commonwealth Day (second Monday in March), Bomb Day (23 April), Gospel Day (second Monday in May), Queen’s Official Birthday (second Saturday in June), National Children’s Day (early August), Independence Day (two days in early October), Heir to the Throne Day (second Monday in November), Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Each island has its own exclusive holiday. Bomb Day commemorates the bombing of Funafuti by Japan during World War II.

Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday and Easter Monday.