General issues: British colony 1976-1978, Independent within the British Commonwealth 1978-Present
Country name on general issues: Tuvalu
Special issues: Regional issues 1984-1988 Funafuti, Nanumanga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu
Currency: 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 1976-Present
Population: 7 000 in 1976, 10 800 in 2015
Political history Tuvalu
Tuvalu is an island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean. The native population is Polynesian. Europeans explored the islands on sporadic visits since the 16th century. In the 19th century whalers would stop at the islands and traders settled on the islands – then known as the Ellice Islands. It was not until 1892 that the British established a permanent presence – proclaiming a protectorate over the Ellice Islands. The Ellice Islands were joined to the neighboring Gilbert Islands – now Kiribati – to form the protectorate of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands. The Gilbert & Ellice Islands were annexed as a British colony in 1916.
During WWII, the Gilbert Islands were occupied by Japan between 1941 and 1943. The administration of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands was transferred from the Gilbert Islands to Funafuti in the Ellice Islands and the Ellice Islands served as a staging ground for the Allied military operations to regain the Gilbert Islands. Since the 1960’s, the Gilbert & Ellice Islands gradually moved towards independence. As part of the process, by way of a referendum, the Ellice Islands voted for a separate administration. The outcome of the referendum was effected de jure in 1975 and de facto in 1976. Upon gaining their separate administration in 1976, the Ellice Islands were renamed Tuvalu. Tuvalu, after five months of self government, gained independence within the British Commonwealth in 1978.
Economically, Tuvalu ranks among the least developed countries in the Pacific. Traditionally, subsistence agriculture and fishing were the main source of income. Now, the public sector employs most of the population. The sale of fishing licences to other countries contributes significantly to the GDP. The majority of the population – 96% – is Polynesian. A minority – 4% – is of Micronesian descent.
Postal history Tuvalu
The first postal services were set up in the Gilbert & Ellice Islands in 1911. The stamps of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands were superseded by the issues of the Gilbert Islands and of Tuvalu in 1976. Since independence, Tuvalu has issued stamps aimed mainly at the thematic collectors market. Between 1984 and 1988, stamps were issued for the individual islands – solely aimed at the thematic collectors market. Stanley Gibbons lists these issues in the Appendix and comments: ‘The following stamps for individual islands of Tuvalu have either been issued in excess of postal needs, or not have not been made available to the public in reasonable quantities at face value.’.