Nanumea, Tuvalu

Nanumea is the north-westernmost atoll in the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu, a group of nine coral atolls and islands spread over about 400 miles (640 kms) of Pacific Ocean just south of the equator and west of the International Date Line.

Located at along one edge of the so-called Polynesian triangle, Nanumea lies just south of the Gilbert Islands, which are Micronesian in language and culture. Nanumea is a classic atoll, a series of low islets sitting on a coral reef shelf surrounding a lagoon. About 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) long by 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) wide in overall size, the dry land area is about 3.9 square kilometres (1.5 sq mi).

The Nanumea Conservation Area covers about 2 square kilometres (0.77 sq miles) of the central lagoon and consists of about 10% of the reef area of the atoll, including marine habitats and 2 islets.

The inhabitants of Nanumea live primarily in the main village at the northwest tip of the largest of the five islets making up the atoll, at Nanumea proper. The junior school is Kaumaile Primary School. There are scattered households across the lagoon from Nanumea village at Matagi and on Motu Foliki and on the southeastern tip of Lakena islet.

Nanumeans are Polynesians with a rich mythical history of their settlement being led by an explorer/adventurer and warrior from the south named Tefolaha, who is considered the island's founder. Some accounts say Tefolaha and his crew came from Tonga, others name Samoa but whether these names refer to today's Tonga and Samoa is not certain. A widely recognized symbol of Nanumean identity and unity is the fighting spear "Kaumaile", said to have been brought by Tefolaha. "Kaumaile" was used to defeat invaders to Nanumea, most notably by Lapi to defeat a giant, Tuulaapoupou. Recent carbon dating tests have shown that the Kaumaile spear is over 800 years old.

The island nation is not only small, it also lacks any city-like destination or architectural heritage. There are no hills or mountain ranges, no rivers or gorges. And yet, it is a delightful pacific destination, where your time is well spent in the shade of a palm trees on one of the pretty beaches. Traditional local culture remains very much alive, making the people of Tuvalu one of the nation's best assets. Traditional dancing is performed on special occasions and the local "maneapa" (the town hall) is your best chances of experiencing one.

The climate is tropical. Easterly trade winds moderate the weather from March to November, while westerly gales bring heavy rain from November to March. Natural phenomena do not occur frequently here, but low level of islands makes them sensitive to changes in sea level.

Cruises operate year round from Australia, Fiji and Tahiti.

General Information:

Population: 664 (2002)
Language: Tuvaluan, English
Currency: Australian dollar, Tuvuluan dollar
Time Zone UTC +12 (no DST)
Country code +688
Internet TLD .tv

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