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Pacific Island Guide  >  Tuvalu (Ellice Islands)

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Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is an island nation consisting of a group of nine small atolls in the western Pacific Ocean. The main island lies north of Fiji. Tuvalu is the world’s second smallest country. The languages spoken are Tuvaluan and English.

Tuvaluans are threatened by rising sea levels because the highest point is just 16 feet above sea level. The estimated population is 10,500.

The islands are Nanumea, Nanumanga, Niutao, Nui, Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti, Nukulaelae, and Niulakita.

Historical Background

Tuvaluan man's costume, 1841, U.S. Navy Exploring Expedition.

1400: The first settlers are Samoans or Tongans
1818-25: Whalers and traders visit the islands. Some settle there.
1826: The islands are mapped and named after a British Member of Parliament named Edward Ellice, who owned the ship that landed on Funafuti in 1819.
1850s: Jack O’Brien, of Australian-Irish descent, comes to Funafuti and marries Sarai, the daughter of the King of Funafuti. This royal family still bears the O’Brien name.
1860: Britain annexes the islands to protect them from Peruvian slave traders, who have kidnapped 400 Tuvaluans.
1865: The London Missionary Society installs Samoan pastors on various islands.
1892: The islands form part of a protectorate of Britain, known as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Traders from American, British, French, and German trading companies settle and leave their names: Duffy (Nanumea), Buckland (Niutao, Nitz (Vaitapu), O’Brien (Funafuti), Restieaux, Fenisot (Nukufetau), and Kleis (Nui).
1915: Britain annexes them as the Gilbert and Ellice Island Colony.
1975: The Ellice Islands break away from the Gilbert Islands and become known as Tuvalu. The Tuvaluans are more Polynesian while the I-Kiribati of the Gilbert Islands are more Micronesian in ethnicity and culture.
1978: The islands become independent with the name Tuvalu.
1979: The U.S.A. gives Tuvalu four islands that have been U.S. territory.
2000: Tuvalu joins the United Nations.

Research Tools

Civil Registration

Civil registrations of birth, marriages and death records are available for the years from 1866-1979. They are microfilm of original records in the Tuvalu Archives, Funafuti. There are 10 rolls of microfilm.

Number 1213002 contains records of births in Funafuti from 1974-1979. Births in Nanumanga from 1902-1952 and from 1968-1973. Births in Nanumea from 1903-1975. Birth in Niutao from 1905-1952, from 1890-1899, and from 1952-1955.

Number 1213003 contains records of births in Niutao from 1955-1874. Births in Niu from 1903-1976. Births in Nukufetau from 1904-1975.

Number 1213004 contains births in Nukulaelae from 1903-1975. Births in Vaitupu from 1866-1952, 1866-1905, and 1952-1974. Births in Northern Ellice from 1968-1972.

Number 1213005 contains births in Northern Ellice and Southern Ellice from 1968-19754. Death records in Funafati, Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niutao ranging from 1903-1969.

Number 1213006 contains death records in Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu, Northern Ellice, and Southern Ellice ranging from 1903-1979. Marriages in Funafati from 1933-1979

Number 1213007 contains marriage records in Nanumanga, Nanumea, Nui, ranging from 1889-1974. Marriage records in Nukufetau from 1973-1974 and in Nukulaelae from 1952-1968.

Number 1213008 contains marriage, adoption, and divorce records ranging from 1911-1975.

Number 1213009 contains records of Peruvian slave raids, Tongan wars, old men’s tales, archaeological site to 1900, and history and genealogy records up to 1900.

Number 1213010 contains notes and genealogies, some of them oral genealogies, and Number 1213008.


 

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