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TuvaluThe name Tuvalu has historic origins as originally the grouping consisted of eight inhabited islands. In the local language, Tuvaluan, Tuvalu means "eight standing together."


Little is known about the early settlers of Tuvalu, including their origin. The Tuvaluans are ethnic Polynesians and speak a Polynesian language as this culture remains at the core of how they identify and who they are. Oral traditions and archeological evidence suggest different origins, but what seems to be consistent is that the people lived off the lands and shared a culture and lifestyle with other Polynesian people.

The early settlers likely lived off the lands and seas as their lives were simple and life was focused on small communities, family, and islands. Beginning in about the 1200s, the people fell under the loose-rule of the Tongans and during this time many cultural aspects found in Tonga and other parts of Polynesia were passed to these islands, making the Polynesian culture and lifestyle more uniform across the greater region. Despite the strong Polynesian influences to the culture and lifestyle of the people, on some islands, the Micronesian influence from the Gilbert Islands (in Kiribati) made perhaps a more significant impact.

The Europeans began settling and colonizing much of the greater region in the 1800s, but Tuvalu was primarily left alone since many of the islands are atolls and these foreigners saw little economic value in them. However, missionaries did arrive as most of the people converted to Christianity. This alone significantly changed the culture and lifestyle, but more importantly, many of these missionaries were ethnic Samoans, which strongly influenced the culture, tying the islands to Samoa and again solidifying the Polynesian culture.

Later, other economic changes took place on the islands as they became a source point for the coconut industry, although few foreigners settled even then. However, World War II destroyed much of the arable lands, making the people shift back to the seas for survival as the exportation of coconuts nearly ended. However, with this time period also introduced new technology, which also forever altered the culture and lifestyle of the people. Today the people maintain much of their Polynesian culture, but the lifestyle has changed dramatically time and time again, making the country one that truly unites past and present.

Information for Tuvalu was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks