Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
October 27, 2015

More information about Tuvalu is available on the Tuvalu Country Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


During World War II, several thousand U.S. troops were in Tuvalu (then known as the Ellice Islands). Beginning in 1942, U.S. forces built airbases on the islands of Funafuti, Nanumea, and Nukufetau. Relations were friendly and cooperative between the local people and the troops, mainly U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy SeaBees. The airstrip in the capital of Funafuti, originally built by the U.S. during the war, is still in use, as is the "American Passage" that was blasted through Nanumea's reef by SeaBees assisted by local divers.

Tuvalu became fully independent from the United Kingdom in 1978, and in 1979 it signed a treaty of friendship with the United States, which recognized Tuvalu's possession of four islets formerly claimed by the United States. The two countries have worked as partners on regional and global issues promoting peace and strengthening democracy and security. The partnership looks to curb the effects of climate change, reinforce maritime security, and bolster the countries' economic development programs.

U.S. Assistance to Tuvalu

The United States provided assistance towards the purchase of a new desalination plant for Tuvalu following months of drought in 2011. The United States also signed an expanded ship-rider agreement under the under Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) with Tuvalu in 2011 establishing a partnership to provide security and to support ship-rider missions which allow a Tuvaluan Navy official to ride on U.S. Navy vessels as well as U.S. Coast Guard vessels. The United States also contributes U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy air assets to regional Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) operations that help Tuvalu protect earnings from fishing licenses in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The United States has financed travel for Tuvaluan Police Officers and government officials to participate in U.S. sponsored title 10 seminars and conferences each year, including Pacific Defender, Pacific Unity, Asia Pacific Military Medicine Conference, International Sea-power Symposium and Multinational Planning Augmentation Team Tempest Express. The United States has also sent approximately eight Tuvaluans each year to Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) to attend security and crisis management courses.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States has no significant trade or investment with Tuvalu.

Tuvalu's Membership in International Organizations

Tuvalu maintains an independent but generally pro-Western foreign policy. Tuvalu and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu is Judith B. Cefkin, resident in Fiji; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Tuvalu has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York who is also accredited as ambassador to the United States.

More information about Tuvalu is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Tuvalu Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Tuvalu Page
USAID Tuvalu Page
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics

[This is a mobile copy of Tuvalu]

Short URL: http://m.state.gov/md16479.htm