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Tuvalu, Land and Resources

Tuvalu is a chain of nine low-lying coral islands, extending from northwest to southeast for about 600 km (about 400 mi). None of the islands has an elevation of more than 5 m (16 ft). Five of the islands—Funafuti, Nanumea, Nui, Nukufetau, and Nukulaelae—are atolls (a ring-shaped group of islands surrounding a central lagoon). The remaining islands—Nanumaga, Niutao, Vaitupu, and Niulakita—are single islands with smaller lagoons. Tuvalu has a total land area of 26 sq km (10 sq mi). Tuvalu's exclusive economic zone (EEZ)—that is, the area of the surrounding ocean where it controls fishing and other rights—is about 910,000 sq km (350,000 sq mi).

Tuvalu has thin, sandy soil. Coconut trees thrive almost everywhere, but other vegetation is limited. Land animals are likewise limited. Rats, lizards, and turtles are the main wild animals; domesticated animals such as pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats also are found in Tuvalu. The surrounding waters contain a wide variety of fish, octopus, and crab. Because of Tuvalu's porous soil, the only source of fresh water is rain collected in catchment systems.

The tropical climate of Tuvalu is warm and humid throughout the year, with an average annual temperature of about 30° C (about 86° F). Rainfall varies considerably from year to year and between the wetter southern islands and the drier northern islands. Average annual rainfall is about 3,000 mm (about 120 in). Tuvalu lies outside the major cyclone zone belt.

Like other low-lying Pacific countries, Tuvalu has expressed concern that sea levels could rise as a result of global warming. The United Nations listed Tuvalu as among the nations most at risk of complete submersion due to global warming. However, research has been inconclusive as to the likelihood and extent of an impending catastrophe.


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