island courts, South Pacific Forum, local matters, Funafuti, Pacific nations
Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy. The British crown, the nominal head of state, appoints a governor-general as its representative. Actual executive authority is held by a prime minister, who is chosen by the parliament from among its members. The prime minister is assisted by a cabinet of four members, also chosen from the parliament. The 12 members of the parliament are directly elected to four-year terms. The islands with the largest populations—Funafuti, Nanumea, Niutao, and Vaitupu—elect two members each to the parliament. Each of the other islands—except Niulakita, which is considered constitutionally as part of Niutao—elects a single member. All citizens aged 18 or older can vote. There are no political parties. The judicial system consists of a High Court and a Court of Appeal, with island courts and magistrate courts to handle local matters on each island. Funafuti has a town council, and each of the other islands except Niulakita has an island council. Members of these councils are directly elected to four-year terms.
Tuvalu is active in regional affairs. It is a member of the South Pacific Commission, an advisory body of Western and Pacific nations promoting social stability in the South Pacific, and the South Pacific Forum, a regional organization that addresses the foreign affairs and international trade of its member countries. Tuvalu became a member of the United Nations in 2000.
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