Government of Tuvalu: Branches, Military and International Issues

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Tuvalu is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Names of the Country: Official Name: none; conventional short form: Tuvalu; local long form: none; local short form: Tuvalu; Former name: Ellice Islands. Source of the Name: "tuvalu" means "group of eight" or "eight standing together" referring to the country's eight traditionally inhabited islands. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Capital: Funafuti; note: the capital is an atoll of some 29 islets; administrative offices are in Vaiaku Village on Fongafale Islet: Geographic Coordinates: 8 31 S, 179 13 E. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Administrative Divisions: 7 island councils and 1 town council; Funafuti, Nanumaga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Independence: 1 October 1978 (from the UK). National Holiday: Independence Day, 1 October (1978). [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

National Symbols of Tuvalu

Flag: light blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant; the outer half of the flag represents a map of the country with nine yellow, five-pointed stars on a blue field symbolizing the nine atolls in the ocean. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

National Symbols: maneapa (native meeting house); national colors: light blue, yellow

National Anthem: name: "Tuvalu mo te Atua" (Tuvalu for the Almighty), lyrics/music: Afaese MANOA. It was adopted in 1978; the anthem's name is also the nation's motto

Constitution and Legal System of Tuvalu

Constitution: previous 1978 (at independence); latest effective 1 October 1986. Amendments: proposed by the House of Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly membership in the final reading; amended 2007, 2010, 2013; In 2016, the United Nations Development Program and the Tuvaluan Government initiated a review of the country's constitution, which was ongoing as of early 2021. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Legal System: mixed legal system of English common law and local customary law. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

International Law Organization Participation: has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Citizenship: Citizenship by Birth: yes; Citizenship by Descent Only: yes; for a child born abroad, at least one parent must be a citizen of Tuvalu; Dual Citizenship Recognized: yes; Residency Requirement for Naturalization: na. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Executive Branch of Tuvalu

Chief of State: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor General Tofiga Vaevalu FALANI (since 29 August 2021)

Head of Government: Prime Minister Kausea NATANO (since 19 September 2019). [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on recommendation of the prime minister. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Executive Branch Elections and Appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from members of House of Assembly following parliamentary elections

Results of the Last Election: Kausea NATANO elected prime minister by House of Assembly; House of Assembly vote count on 19 September 2019: 10 to 6. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Legislative Branch of Tuvalu

has a unicameral House of Assembly or Fale I Fono (16 seats; members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)

The last legislative election was held on 9 September 2019 (next to be held on September 2023)

Results of the Last Legislative Election: percent of vote: NA; seats: independent 16 (9 members reelected)

Judicial Branch of Tuvalu

Highest Court: Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and not less than 3 appeals judges); High Court (consists of the chief justice); appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

Judge Selection and Term of Office for the Highest Court: Court of Appeal judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the Cabinet; judge tenure based on terms of appointment; High Court chief justice appointed by the governor general on the advice of the Cabinet; chief justice serves for life; other judges appointed by the governor general on the advice of the Cabinet after consultation with chief justice; judge tenure set by terms of appointment. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Subordinate Courts: magistrates' courts; island courts; land courts

Elections and Political Parties

Voting Age: 18 years of age; universal. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

The last legislative election was held on 9 September 2019 (next to be held on September 2023)

There are no political parties, but members of parliament usually align themselves in informal groupings. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Government Spending, Taxes and Revenues

Government Budget: revenues: $87 million (2019 estimate)
expenditures: $88 million (2019 estimate). note: revenue data include Official Development Assistance from Australia

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 25.6 percent (of GDP) (2013 estimate); ranking compared to other countries in the world: 1. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Public Debt: 37 percent of GDP (2017 estimate)
47.2 percent of GDP (2016 estimate); ranking compared to other countries in the world: 145. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Taxes: 106.7 percent (of GDP) (2013 estimate). note: revenue data include Official Development Assistance from Australia; ranking compared to other countries in the world: 1. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Military and International Relations of Tuvalu

Military and Security Forces: no regular military forces; Tuvalu Police Force (Ministry of Justice, Communications, and Foreign Affairs) (2023). Australia provides support to the Tuvalu Police Force, including donations of patrol boats

Tuvalu has a "shiprider" agreement with the US, which allows local maritime law enforcement officers to embark on US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Navy (USN) vessels, including to board and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within Tuvalu's designated exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the high seas; "shiprider" agreements also enable USCG personnel and USN vessels with embarked USCG law enforcement personnel to work with host nations to protect critical regional resources (2023)

International Organization That It Participates In: ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, FAO, IBRD, IDA, IFAD, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Image Sources:

Text Sources: CIA World Factbook, 2023; “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Volume 2: Oceania,” edited by Terence E. Hays, 1991, Wikipedia, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated August 2023

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