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Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Island , is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. It comprises four reef island and five true atolls spread out from 6° to 10° south. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati Nauru Samoa and Fiji

The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesian people. In 1568 Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña sailed through the island and is understood to have sighted Nui during his expedition in search of Terra Australis. In 1819 the island of Funafuti was named Ellice s Island the name Ellice was applied to all nine island after the work of English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay (1812–1876).

The island came under Britain's sphere of influence in the late 19th century, when the Ellice Island were declared a British protectorate by Captain Gibson, R. N. of HMS Curaçao between 9th and 16 October 1892. The Ellice Island were administered as British protectorate by a Resident Commissioner from 1892 to 1916 as part of the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT), and later as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Island colony from 1916 to 1974.

In 1974, the Ellice Island rs voted for separate British dependency status. As a consequence Tuvalu separated from the Gilbert Island which became Kiribati Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978 On 5 September 2000 Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.

[Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuvalu]

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