Tuvalu, The People of Tuvalu
Austronesian language, Funafuti, thatched roofs, literacy rates, Imported foods
The population of Tuvalu was estimated at 11,146 in 2002, yielding an overall population density of 429 persons per sq km (1,110 per sq mi). About one-third of the people live on Funafuti in and around the capital; people continue to move there from the other islands in search of employment, thereby increasing governmental concerns about overcrowding there. About 1,000 Tuvaluans live and work overseas, particularly in the phosphate mining industry on Nauru.
Tuvaluans are almost all ethnic Polynesians. English and Tuvaluan, an Austronesian language, are the nation's official languages. Most people are bilingual, and literacy rates are high. Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 7 and 14. There are two high schools and a maritime training school. The University of the South Pacific operates an extension center on Funafuti. Some students pursue higher education overseas.
Most of the population belongs to the Congregationalist Church of Tuvalu, a Protestant church. Other Christian denominations are also represented. The Baha’i and Islamic faiths have attracted a few converts in recent years. Social life centers around the church and family gatherings. Tuvaluans value harmonious social relations and modesty. Residents of the islands away from the capital live in traditional houses with raised foundations, open sides, and thatched roofs. On Funafuti, concrete block structures have largely replaced traditional buildings. Most of the people wear Western-style, casual clothing. Imported foods are popular, especially on Funafuti. Because fresh water is scarce, coconut milk is an essential beverage.
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