Research, Technology

Everything you need to know about Tuvalu: a country that will soon sink and become the first "digital state"

In a previous article, we listedcities that will be under water in the future due to global warming and rising sea levels. At the same time, we did not mention a small state whose inhabitants are already suffering from problems caused by climate change. We are talking about the Pacific country of Tuvalu, which consists of nine small islands, and at any moment risks disappearing from the face of the Earth as a result of a powerful wave in the ocean. Recently, the authorities of this state decided to perpetuate their culture and history inside virtual reality - the state of Tuvalu plans to become the "first digital country". In this article, we will find out how 11 thousand people survive on tiny islands, what national values ​​they want to preserve, why tourists do not visit the country, and many other interesting facts.

Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Coffee speaks at the COP27 summit


  • 1 Where is the state of Tuvalu
  • 2 Why is it hard to live on the islands of Tuvalu
  • 3 How Tuvalu will become a digital country
  • 4 Why tourists do not fly to Tuvalu
  • 5 Culture of the people of Tuvalu
    • 5.1 History of the Tuvalu archipelago
    • 5.2 Language of the Tuvalu people
    • 5.3 Dances and music of the Tuvaluan people

Where is the state of Tuvalu

The state of Tuvalu includes foursmall islands and five atolls are also islands, but in the form of a circle, in the middle of which there is a lagoon. The largest island is called Vaitupu and covers an area of ​​5 square kilometers. The smallest island is Niulakita, with an area of ​​0.4 square kilometers. The capital of Tuvalu is the atoll of Funafuti, where most of the population lives.

Tuvalu Islands: Nanumea, Nui, Nukulaelae, Nukufetau, Funafuti, Nanumanga, Niulakita, Niutao and Vaitupu

On the world map, the islands of Tuvalu are locatednear Australia. They are scattered over a territory 350 kilometers long and do not have a single mountain - the highest point does not exceed 5 meters. To move between different parts of Tuvalu, you need to use boats. The easiest way to get from the island of Nukufetau to Vaitupu, because the distance between them is 67 kilometers (it is worth noting that the path is still impressive!). To get from the island of Nui to Vaitupu, you need to overcome 172 kilometers.

Nanumea Atoll

Nui Atoll

Nukulaelae Atoll

Nukufetau Atoll

Funafuti Atoll with Fongafale Island highlighted

The land area of ​​Tuvalu is only 26 square kilometers. The area of ​​the lagoons, which are located inside the atoll islands, reaches 494 square kilometers. There is more water in Tuvalu than land.

Nanumanga Atoll

Niulakita Island

Niutao Island

Vaitupu Atoll

See also: Mythical islands were discovered on the medieval map of Britain, but what kind of Earth is this?

Why is it hard to live on the islands of Tuvalu

The islands of Tuvalu are located near the equator,so it is very hot there - these are real tropics. The usual spring, autumn and winter are not there, so the locals are familiar with only two periods: the rainy season (from November to October) and the drought (from May to October). The air temperature in Tuvalu is high and rarely falls below 26 degrees Celsius.

The width of some of the islands of Tuvalu is so small that in some sources it is called the "narrowest" country.

Living on the islands of Tuvalu is hard.This is primarily due to the fact that at any time residents can die as a result of a hurricane or tsunami. People were hit the hardest in 1972 when Hurricane Bebe hit the South Pacific region. A strong wind washed away almost all the buildings of the Tuvalu Islands into the ocean, destroyed 90% of the trees and damaged equipment. Fortunately, there were no major casualties - only two deaths are known. Thanks to the support of other states, the damaged structures were quickly restored.

In 1972, hurricane Bebe destroyed all the buildings of the islands of Tuvalu.

Another problem for Tuvaluans islack of food and drinking water. The soil on the islands is of coral origin, therefore it is highly acidic and poorly retains moisture. There are very few plants in Tuvalu, people can grow bananas and coconuts, and with everything else they experience serious difficulties. The animal world is also monotonous, and on the islands you can only meet pigs, dogs, cats, rats and snakes. Seabirds, crabs and hermit crabs are caught by the locals. About 350 species of fish live in coastal waters, but not all of them are suitable for cooking.

Inhabitants of the island of Niutao

Due to the high porosity of the soil, on the islands of Tuvaluthere is no river – the water just seeps through the earth. The water surrounding people is salty, and it is impossible to drink it. Therefore, the poor inhabitants of the islands are forced to collect rainwater and store it in concrete tanks. Richer citizens buy water distillers, but this is a very expensive pleasure - given the limited connection with other countries, the transportation of such equipment clearly costs a lot of money.

There are no rivers in Tuvalu

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How Tuvalu will become a digital country

Recently, local foreign minister SimonCoffee (Simon Kofe) spoke at the COP27 summit, which is dedicated to discussing climate change. According to him, due to rising sea levels, the islands of Tuvalu may be under water by 2100. It is believed that now is the time to make decisions so that the state continues to exist.

Simon Coffee performance at COP27

He proposed to create a virtual copy of the state of Tuvalu so that it can be visited in virtual reality:

Our land, our ocean, our culture are the mostvaluable assets of our people, and to keep them from harm, no matter what happens in the physical world, we will move them to the “cloud,” the minister announced.

How and when will this idea be implemented inreality, nobody knows. For now, there is only the very fact that they want to turn Tuvalu into a “digital country”. In the event of serious problems, the inhabitants of the islands want to be resettled in New Zealand, Australia or the Republic of Fiji.

In case of serious problems, Tuvaluans will be evacuated

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Why tourists don't fly to Tuvalu

So, about 11,000 people live on the island of Tuvalu.people, a small part of whom are foreigners. Life on small plots of land is hard due to problems with food and drinking water, as well as the constant risk of drowning. Tourist trips to Tuvalu attract few people, because tickets there cost fabulous money, and there are no hotels, one might say.

The question arises - what is there in Tuvalu to move it into the virtual space?

In addition to all of the above, there is a lot of garbage in Tuvalu because there is no way to recycle it.

Culture of the people of Tuvalu

First of all, the state of Tuvalu is interestingthe fact that it consists of nine islands widely spaced from each other. There are no mountains on them and life on them is a complete risk. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that this is a unique country, unlike anything else.

History of the Tuvalu archipelago

Also, the people of Tuvalu want to preserve their history.It is believed that the islands were inhabited by people in 300-500 AD - most likely, people from the islands of Tonga and Samoa were the first to sail there. On the island of Nanumanga, a cave was found with traces of a very ancient fire, so these patches of land could have been inhabited before, but no one knows who lived there.

Funafuti Islander, 1900

The main street of Funafuti in 1905

Inhabitant of Nukufetau Island, around 1900-1910s

Europeans learned about the Tuvalu archipelago only in1568 - Spanish navigator Alvaro Mendaña de Neira spoke about him. After that, the island remained unnoticed until 1788, when English travelers found it. After that, the island survived the attacks of slave traders, and then turned into a British colony. Tuvalu gained independence in 1978.

During World War II, Tuvalu was used by the US military

The language of the Tuvalu people

The people of Tuvalu have a language of the same name, whichhas many borrowings from the Samoan language, which was once used by Christian missionaries. Despite the existence of the Tuvalu language, English is mostly spoken on the tropical islands. Of course, the people also want to preserve their language, because this is also part of history.

Modern inhabitants of the island of Funafuti

Dances and music of the Tuvalu people

Finally, the inhabitants of the islands of Tuvalu hadown music and dances, which are very closely related. Unfortunately, today the ancient dances of the local people are known only in general terms - a huge part of the information has disappeared as a result of bans from the missionaries. The music of the indigenous people was extremely primitive, played on a gong and accompanied by a monotonous recitative. The men performed the “fakanau” dance, which was banned by the missionaries because of their frankness. The folk dance of women is "oga", and there was no ban on it.

Dances of the Tuvalu people

Ultimately, it turns out that Tuvalu -a unique state, which is located on several islands at once. Despite the difficult living conditions, this place has a rich history and is very valuable for the people. Considering that the islands may disappear underwater in the future, turning Tuvalu into a “digital state” seems like the right decision. But, in fairness, it should be noted that at the moment it is not at all clear how this will happen.

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