List of islands of Tuvalu

Tuvalu consists of nine separate islands,[1] six of which are atolls and three are reef islands. Since an atoll typically consists of several islets, there is a total of more than 124 islands and islets. The three remaining islands are actually atolls, too, but they have a completely closed rim of dry land, with a lagoon that has no connection to the open sea or that may be drying up. Each island is surrounded by a coral reef.

The islands of Tuvalu are spread out between the latitude of to 10° south and longitude of 176° to 180°, west of the International Date Line.[2]

The name, Tuvalu, means "eight standing together" in Tuvaluan.

The smallest island, Niulakita, which is the 9th island in the Tuvaluan archipelago, was not continuously inhabited. From the late 19th century it had been in private ownership. It was bought by the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony administration in 1944. The administration gave people from Vaitupu permission to settle Niulakita. However, in 1949 a later administration decided to have Niulakita settled by the community from Niutao, which was considered to be overpopulated. The removal of the Vaitupuans was controversial.[3] Niulakita is a separate local government district but it is administered as part of Niutao. Niulakita is represented in the Parliament of Tuvalu by the members of the constituency of Niutao.

Atoll/Island Main
(c. 2002)
Min. number
of islets
Number of
FunafutiVaiaku 2,40 277 4 492 3098°31′S 179°13′E / 8.517°S 179.217°E / -8.517; 179.217
NanumeaNanumea 3,87 22 664 5205°41′S 176°09′E / 5.683°S 176.150°E / -5.683; 176.150
NuiTanrake 2,83 17 548 21407°13′29″S 177°09′37″E / 7.22472°S 177.16028°E / -7.22472; 177.16028
NukufetauSavave 2,99 145 586 33208°00′S 178°22′E / 8.000°S 178.367°E / -8.000; 178.367
NukulaelaeFangaua 1,82 43 393 15209°22′52″S 179°51′08″E / 9.38111°S 179.85222°E / -9.38111; 179.85222
VaitupuAsau 5,60 10 1 591 9707°28′S 178°41′E / 7.467°S 178.683°E / -7.467; 178.683
NanumangaTonga 3,00 3,00 589 51)206°20′S 176°25′E / 6.333°S 176.417°E / -6.333; 176.417
NiulakitaNiulakita 0,40 0,40 35 1110°45′S 179°30′E / 10.750°S 179.500°E / -10.750; 179.500
NiutaoKulia 2,53 2,53 663 41)206°06′S 177°16′E / 6.100°S 177.267°E / -6.100; 177.267
Tuvalu Vaiaku 25,44 520 9 561 12434 
1) main island plus islets in landlocked lagoon

At least 11 islands are inhabited, expanded over the biggest isles of the nine atolls, plus two islands in Funafuti.

Royal Society of London investigation of the formation of coral reefs at Funafuti

An expedition (Funafuti Coral Reef Boring Expedition of the Royal Society) under Professor William Sollas of Oxford University,conducted by the Royal Society of London carried out drilling on the coral reef at Funafuti in 1896, 1897 and 1898.

The Royal Society of London were investigating the formation of coral reefs and whether traces of shallow-water organisms could be found at depth in the coral of Pacific atolls. Three expeditions used drilling equipment to take core samples of the coral reef. A goal of the expeditions was to drill down to confirm that the coral material was located on a base of volcanic rock. This investigation followed the work on the structure and distribution of coral reefs conducted by Charles Darwin in the Pacific.

First expedition (1896)

The expedition was led by Professor William Johnson Sollas of the University of Oxford and included Professor Edgeworth David and Walter George Woolnough of the University of Sydney.[4]

Second expedition (1897)

The expedition was led by Professor Edgeworth David of the University of Sydney (that included George Sweet as second-in-command, and Walter George Woolnough).[5]

Third expedition (1898)

The expedition was led by Alfred Edmund Finckh of the University of Sydney.[6][7]

Results of the Royal Society expeditions

The purpose of the expedition was to attempt to settle the question as to the formation of coral atolls. The first expedition experienced defects in the boring machinery and the bore penetrated only slightly more than 100 feet (approx. 31 m). The second expedition reached a depth of 557 feet (170 m). The third expedition was successful in carrying the bore to 1,114 feet (340 m).[8][9] The results provided support for Charles Darwin's theory of subsidence;[10] in which there are four stages in development of coral reefs: a volcanic island forms, is surrounded by a fringing coral reef, as it subsides slowly a wide barrier reef forms, then after it has sunk below sea level the coral continues to grow forming a circular atoll.

See also


  1. "Maps of Tuvalu".
  2. "Maps of Tuvalu". Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  3. "Foua Tofiga". Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  4. Dr. Alfred Edmund Finckh (11 September 1934). "TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. p. 6. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  5. David, Mrs Edgeworth, Funafuti or Three Months On A Coral Atoll: an unscientific account of a scientific expedition, London: John Murray, 1899
  6. Cantrell, Carol. "Finckh, Alfred Edmund (1866–1961)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  7. K. A. Rodgers and Carol Cantrell. "Alfred Edmund Finckh 1866-1961: Leader of the 1898 Coral Reef Boring Expedition to Funafuti" (PDF). Historical Records of Australian Science, Volume 7, Number 4, pp. 393–403. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  8. The Funafuti Coral-Boring Expedition, Address by Professor David (PDF). The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 December 1897.
  9. "TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 11 September 1934. p. 6. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  10. "CORAL FORMATION.". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 10 December 1897. p. 5. Retrieved 19 June 2012.

External links

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