TUVALU HAS BEEN independent since 1978, joining the United Nations in 2000. The resident population has been estimated to be about 10,000 people in 2007, living on nine small, low-lying atoll islands. The total land area is only 9.4 sq. mi. (24.4 sq. km.); when the Exclusive Economic Zone is included, the total national area of Tuvalu is 289,576 sq. mi. (750,000 sq. km.). Tuvalu does not have substantial natural resources—the coral atoll soil is of poor quality, alkaline, shallow, and with low water-holding quality. Added to these environmental challenges are a lack of rainfall, lack of natural resources, the occurrence of cyclones, and the threat of sea-level rise. About 44 percent of the population lives on urban Funafuti, and the internal migration rate is ...

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