Not on the tourist map, but we managed to find ourselves standing on the tiny 2.8 sq. kilometre island called Funafuti, which is the capital of Tuvalu.

The statistics of TUVALU tell the story..

AREA: 26 sq km dry land.. Divided amongst 9 atolls and islands spread over 1.3 million sq. km.
POPULATION: 10,000 (over 4000 on Funafuti)
PEOPLE: Polynesian (96%), Micronesian (4%)
LANGUAGES: Tuvaluan, Samoan, English
RELIGION: Christian (98%), Bahai (1%)
GOVERNMENT: Constitutional monarchy
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General
CURRENCY: Australian Dollar, with Tuvaluan coins.
MEDIA: Radio -2 stations, 1 AM station with 8 hours of local programs daily and 1 FM station with BBC
Television - 1 station with 3 hours of program on Tuesday nights

Newspaper printed monthly

The people are friendly, everyone seemed to get on with one another and I understand that crime rate is very low, you couldn't get away with too much in such a small place.

Here is a photographic record of each days experience, these pages were uploaded daily, using the ISP "tuvalu.tv" The 'story lines' will be added over the next few weeks




FUNAFUTI FROM THE AIR

 


Closer look with magnifying glass




Funafuti is a 2.5 hour flight from Suva, Fiji on board a 30 seat AIR FIJI Brasilia EMB120. The flight had about 20 passengers as some seats were taken up by liferafts and cargo. Two flights a week, Monday and Thursday, and maybe a Friday flight, not the busiest of airports (airport code is FUN).

 

Foreigners arriving here number under 1000 per year and are mostly from aid delegations, there were several Australian trainers on our flight. That's Peter at the front, he is from Newcastle TAFE to instruct Project Management.


The blue International Terminal has everything in a space of about 15 by 15 metres, in/outbound immigration, in/outbound customs, agriculture inspection, in/out bound baggage facility, and departure lounge. Its a real squeeze when planes arrive. Areas are also set aside in the building for a refreshment bar, the Women's Craft Centre and a travel office.


There is one hotel in Tuvalu, the VAIAKU LAGI is government run, a transport shuttle for air travelers from the Airport to the hotel comes in the form of a dual cabin ute (that's a small pickup truck), it's only a distance of about 75 metres, but sure beats carrying your bags in the 30 degree C. heat.





The Vaiaku Lagi hotel has 14 comfortable, clean, air conditioned rooms, featuring a fridge, tea and coffee facilities and a telephone, however there is no hot water in the shower. All rooms have sweeping views of Funafuti Lagoon just metres away.


High temperatures persist day and night, but a little relief can be found under the leaf covered outdoor areas of the hotel. Saturday night is usually set aside for the 'Dance' when the locals get together for a disco. Lunchtime Fridays seems to be similar, when "Happy Hour" kicks in and the music is turned up.


The 'Spanner' is attached to the Maritime school, here being used for a shopping trip.

 

One of Funafuti's lagoon islands. Part of the lagoon is reserved as a Marine Park.

 

...and another.. a palm covered island.

 



Electrical high voltage transformer sits in a secure enclosure.

 



View towards the lagoon taken from ouside the
Filomena Lodge. Give way signs now appear at almost every intersection.

 



They take it easy here. A sneak look into the backyard of a Funafuti home.

 

The runway was built by the American forces during WW II, deep trenches were carved into the island to obtain building materials and evidence of these still exists. The runway today has an all weather surface and when not used by aircraft doubles for a soccer field, a clothes dryer, or a kids playground.



Drying clothing beside the airstrip, the ladies home is in the shade so she takes advantage of the open space.

 



Local school boy walks home.

 

The 'Peoples lawyer" office.

Tuvalu stays in touch with the world through these Government satellite dishes, located beside the airstrip.