Natural paradises in danger to be saved: Tuvalu

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Natural paradises in danger to be saved: Tuvalu

The fourth smallest country in the world is struggling to cope with impacts related to climate change including five millimeters per year of sea level rise, floods caused by tides and waves, storms, rising temperatures, saltwater infiltration and coastal erosion on its nine atolls and coral islands.

The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were navigators of the Lapita civilization, then dominated by Polynesian populations but also Gilbertesi as in Nui. The islands fell under British influence in the late 19th century. The Ellice Islands were administered by the United Kingdom as a protectorate from 1892 to 1916 and as part of the colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands from 1916 to 1976, after the islanders voted in 1974 to become an English dependency under the name of Tuvalu, separated from the Gilbert islands, which took the name of Kiribati.

Tuvalus became fully independent within the Commonwealth in 1978. Tuvalu comprises 9 atolls. The total area is only about 26 km², which makes this state the fourth smallest in the world. The largest of the nine atolls is Funafuti which is the capital.

The maximum height is 4.5 m above sea level. Tuvalu is therefore the second state in the world for average height, after the Maldives. This causes problems in the event of a future sea level rise, also because the country suffers from much higher than average tides, in the future the country could be completely submerged.

The land is very poor and can hardly be exploited for agriculture. There are no rivers on the islands. Drinking water is mainly obtained from rainwater, collected in special tanks; there are often problems of lack of water. Tuvalu has, given its latitude and its elevation above sea level, a humid tropical climate, with abundant and constant rainfall throughout the year.

Temperatures are always high. Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy. The elections were considered free and fair by international organizations. The government is efficient in respecting the civil rights of man and citizens.

When abuse is reported, the law provides effective tools for restoring all recognized rights. In recent years, corruption (reported as growing) in government circles, and social and religious discrimination have been identified as human rights violations. However, Tuvalu enjoys a status considered among the best in the world with regard to human rights.