TUVALU, formerly the Ellice Islands, is a group of nine coral islands extending for 579 km (360 miles) in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The country name roughly translates to “8 standing together” – refering to the eight traditional islands of Tuvalu.
The nine islands are: Funafuti, Nanumea, Nanumanga, Niulakita, Niuto, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulailai and Vaitupu. All the islands are low lying with elevations no greater than 4.6 m (15 feet) above sea level. The population live on Tuvalu’s nine atolls, and the small island communities still lead a very traditional lifestyle.
The capital and largest town of Funafuti is located on the shore of a sheltered lagoon that has excellent access for large vessels and provides a safe anchorage and some shore facilities should they be required. Funafuti has an airport capable of taking large turboprop and some small jet aircraft.