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Tuvalu is a group of nine islands and atolls that curve northwest–southeast in a chain stretching nearly 700 kilometers in the central Pacific Ocean, 1,000 kilometers north of Fiji. The total land area of Tuvalu is just 25 square kilometers, making it the fourth smallest country in the world. The population was estimated at 12,300 in 2009, with approximately half living in the capital, Funafuti. Originally known as the Ellice Islands, following a referendum in 1975, Tuvalu separated from the Gilbert Islands (which became known as Kiribati) and then achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1978. Subsistence farming and fishing form the mainstay of the local economy, along with government employment, sales of postage stamps, remittances from expatriate Tuvaluans, and foreign aid. Tuvalu also ...

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