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 stationed in Tuvalu, then known as the Ellice Islands. Beginning in 1942, U.S. forces built airbases on the islands of Funafuti, Nanumea, and Nukufetau. The airstrip in the capital of Funafuti 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 work as partners on regional and global issues promoting peace and strengthening democracy, and their common interests include regional and maritime security, mitigation of environmental challenges, and economic development. In 2018, the U.S. Embassy is Suva, Fiji, which covers Tuvalu, opened an American Shelf in Funafuti at the National Library and Archives. The Public Diplomacy Section has numerous educational outreach programs in Tuvalu including Fulbright Specialists and English programs.
U.S. Assistance to Tuvalu
USAID funds regional projects assisting communities in accessing financing, building institutional capacity, and adapting to climate change. With the Pacific Community (SPC), the Institutional Strengthening in Pacific Island Countries to Adapt to Climate Change project (ISACC, 2015-2020) is assisting Tuvalu to gain accreditation for climate funds and supporting scale up of successful multi-sectoral projects. The Pacific American Climate Fund (PACAM, 2013-2019) built the capacity of small local grantees while supporting their efforts to integrate indigenous knowledge into health systems to respond to climate change. The United States is also a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Tuvalu, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, UN Children’s Fund, World Health Organization, and UN Fund for Population Activities.
The United States has a shiprider agreement under the under Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) with Tuvalu to provide security and support shiprider missions which allow Tuvaluan law enforcement officials to ride aboard U.S. Navy and 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). Additionally, Tuvalu participates in U.S. Pacific Command sponsored workshops on topics including humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and maritime security.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States has minimal trade and investment with Tuvalu. Tuvalu is a party to the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, which provides access to U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee from the U.S. industry. Under a separate Economic Assistance Agreement associated with the Treaty, the United States government currently provides $21 million per year to Pacific Island parties.
Tuvalu’s Membership in International Organizations
Tuvalu and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Pacific Community, and the Secretariat of the Regional Environmental Programme. Tuvalu also belongs to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), of which the United States is a Dialogue Partner. Tuvalu hosted the PIF in August 2019.
The U.S. Ambassador to Tuvalu is Joseph J. Cella, resident in Fiji. Other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Tuvalu has no embassy in Washington, D.C., but Tuvalu’s 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: