Tuvalu formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls spread out from 6 to 10 south. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. Its population of 10,544 makes it the third-least populous sovereign state in the world, with only Vatican City and Nauru having fewer inhabitants. In terms of physical land size, at just 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi) Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world, larger only than the Vatican City at 0.44 km (0.17 sq mi), Monaco at 1.98 km (0.76 sq mi) and Nauru at 21 km (8.1 sq mi). The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesian people. In 1568 Spanish navigator lvaro de Mendaa sailed through the islands and is understood to have sighted Nui during his expedition in search of Terra Australis.
Contributions by PDH, Gadfium, and CynicalMe.