(July 2014 estimate)
Capital: Vaiaku Village
English, Tuvaluan, Samoan
One of the smallest and most isolated nations on Earth, Tuvalu is a group of nine small islands northeast of Australia. Populated by a Polynesian people group, the islands came under British rule in 1892 and received independence in 1978. The highest point is just 16 feet (4.9m) above sea level, and the islands are shrinking and threatened by rising sea levels. Radio is the predominant form of cross-island communications.
These islands face an uncertain future. Limited natural resources, rising sea levels, beach erosion, and lack of rivers and lakes have contributed to the Tuvaluan government making arrangements with Australia and New Zealand for population evacuation in case of environmental emergency. The culture is also under threat from immoral foreign influences and growing income disparities. The economy appears weak, with large import and export disparity, dependency on foreign aid, and small tourism numbers. Yet the government has access to a trust fund that has been wisely managed, a large portion of the male population works abroad in shipping, and the nation has lucrative fishing waters. The government also receives royalties from the internet domain name ".tv".
It was Christian missionaries from the local Cook Islands, through the London Missionary Society, who first brought the Gospel to the Tuvaluan islands. These missionaries established a church on every island – typically the most impressive building on the islands – and to this day churches are revered as holy places. Christianity is universally accepted, with a skyrocketing charismatic population and an evangelical population that has more than tripled over the past 17 years. Yet, some syncretism with pre-Christian beliefs remains, and the Tuvalu Christian Church, to which eight out of every nine Tuvaluans belong, faces decline and nominalism.
(Used with permission from www.prayercast.com/tuvalu.html.)
With the majority of people having a general understanding of Jesus Christ, one could suspect that the need for more missionaries would not be necessary. To the contrary, the need is great, as much of the Tuvaluan people have confused what Christ has done with works based efforts for salvation. Their ears are open to hear though, making the imperative of getting more missionaries over there to minister, before those very ears close up. To learn more about Tuvalu, please contact BIMI's Southeast Asia Director