Tuvalu is one of the smallest countries in the world.
Tuvalu is part of Polynesia.
Polynesia, which means many islands, is a name covering over a thousand islands between Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. The Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa, American Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Wallis and Futuna are also in this grouping.
The islands of Tuvalu are low-lying. The highest point is around 4.5 metres above sea level.
The islands are Funafuti, Nanumaya, Nanumea, Niulakita, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae and Vaitupu.
Migrants, from other Polynesian islands such as Tonga, arrived in Tuvalu in the fourteenth century.
The first European to sight islands of Tuvalu (Nui and Niulakita) was the Spanish navigator Alvaro Mendana de Neyra (1568 and 1595).
Tuvalu was named the Ellice Islands when a ship belonging to Edward Ellice, a British Member of Parliament, visited Funafuta in 1819.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, scientists visited Tuvalu to explore Charles Darwin's theory that coral islands, or atolls, were built on the top of submerged volcanoes. Boreholes were made on Funafuti (David's Drill) but did not reach the volcanic base.
In 1892 Tuvalu became part of the British Protectorate of the Gilbert (Kiribati) and Ellice Islands (Tuvalu).
The British Colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands was formed in 1916.
Between 1916 and 1925 the UK administered Tokelau along with the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) and the Ellice Islands (Tuvalu).
During the Second World War, American troops had an airbase on the atoll of Funafuti. Enemy troops were based in Kiribati (the former Gilbert Islands).
In 1974 the Ellice Islands voted for separation from the Gilbert Islands.
The Ellice Islands became the British Colony of Tuvalu in 1975 and gained independence in 1978.
The name Tuvalu refers to the country's eight traditionally inhabited islands (eight standing together) although there are nine islands in the country.
Tuvalu retained its links with the United Kingdom through membership of the Commonwealth.
The Head of State of Tuvalu is the monarch of the United Kingdom.
Tuvalu is a member of the University of the South Pacific in Suva (Fiji). Members are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The people of Tuvalu are particularly concerned about global warming. It is thought that climate change will see the disappearance of the low-lying islands with rising sea levels.
In 2001 New Zealand agreed to resettle the islanders of Tuvalu if the country was threatened by rising sea levels. Australia agreed to set up a land and sea-level monitoring station on the islands.
A state of emergency was declared in March 2015 when Tuvalu was hit by Cyclone Pam.