Tuvalu relies heavily on foreign aid in terms of both financial assistance and technical assistance. The largest revenues come from contributions from the Tuvalu Trust Fund (a fund established with assistance from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom), fishing licenses and repatriation of foreign currency from workers employed abroad. The sale of the use rights to the country’s electronic nationality designation (domain name).tv generated significant annual revenues from 2000, but today the agreement is struggling.
According to countryaah, the majority of the working population has traditionally been engaged in self-sufficiency/natural housekeeping. In 1991, only 28% of the working population had earning work, most at Funafuti. More than half of these were employed in the public sector. Employment stoppages were later introduced in the public sector, and the opportunities for income-generating work were greatly reduced. In addition to the domestic workforce, many are employed abroad, either as sailors or as contract workers in New Zealand. Many have also moved abroad and send money home to the family. In 2003, remittances from 450 sailors accounted for almost 20% of GDP. Up to approx. in 2000, many worked on phosphate extraction in Nauru.
In agriculture, taro, breadfruit, papaya, bananas and pandanus fruits are grown for their own consumption; copra for export. However, agricultural production is hampered by poor and saline soils. Pigs, chickens and goats are kept from livestock.
Fishing mainly supplies the local market; one had previously exported tuna. Tuvalu expanded in 1983 to a 200-mile fishing zone (1.3 million km2), and hopes to develop the fisheries into a major industry in the future. The industry is very little developed, with the production of braided crafts, copra and some fish processing. Tuvalu was visited by an estimated 1290 tourists in 2004.
Tuvalu lacks drinking water and is based on rainwater storage. In the old days they were based on the use of wells dug down to a thin fresh water layer, but they have gone away from this. The overriding problem is that it is feared that Tuvalu’s atolls will disappear into the sea. In addition to a recorded rise in sea level, there have also been hurricanes with waves that have washed over the islands and extremely high tide (“king tide”) that has threatened people and houses. Some coastal areas and small islets have been washed away. The United Nations Climate Panel (IPCC) has calculated that most of Tuvalu’s land area may lie below sea level during this century. Norwegian Terje Dahl moved from Tuvalu in 1995 due to life-threatening hurricanes and rising sea levels, and was named by the media around the world as the world’s first climate refuge.
Tuvalu’s goods exports account for only 4% of the import value (1994). Exports consist of copra and fish. Imports include: of food, energy raw materials, various finished products and machines. Money shipments from Tuvalers abroad are an important source of currency for the country. Tuvalu receives significant financial support from the UK and New Zealand.
Transport and Communications
The only deep-water port is Fongafale, with reception of seagoing vessels; connection between the islands takes place with smaller ships. Funafuti has a landing strip for aircraft; Air Fiji has scheduled flights. There are also motorcycles and minibuses.