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Tuvalu consists of a densely populated and scattered group of coral atolls: Nanumea, Lolua, Kulia, Niutao, Nanumanga, Tonga, Nui, Tanrake, Asau, Vaitapu, Savave, Nukufetau, Funafuti, Fangaua, Nukulaelae and Niulakita. Subsistence farming and fishing are the primary economic activities. Part of this group belong to the Polynesian area of the Pacific Ocean.
Government revenues come from the sale of stamps and coins and worker remittances. Substantial income is received annually from an international trust fund established in 1987 by Australia, New Zealand and the UK and supported also by Japan and South Korea. Tuvaluans make a living through sea, reefs and atolls and from wages sent home by those working abroad. The nation's capital is Funafuti; its ports and harbours are located at Funafuti and Nukufetau.
The estimated population is 10,297; mainly Polynesian (97%), in the 15 - 64 year age group. Life expectancy is 62.5 years, with the main religion being Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Bahá'í 1%, other 0.6%. Languages include Tuvaluan and English.
The Tuvaluan independence day is on 1 October 1978 (from UK) and the nation is a member of the Commonwealth. Tuvalu changed its flag on 1 October 1995. Tuvalu and Kiribati were a single colony, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The arms of Tuvalu (Ellice Island) were granted to them on separation from the Gilberts. The number of five pointed stars on the flag was reduced from nine to eight. The name of the country means "eight standing together" - originally because only eight of the nine islands were populated. Recently, the ninth has become inhabited due to population pressures, but instead of changing the name of the country it has been decided to make the number of stars on the flag consistent with the name of the country.
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