Tuvalu (/ˈtuːvəluː/ TOO-və-loo), formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island country located in the Pacific Ocean, situated in Oceania, about midway between Hawaii and Australia. It lies east-northeast of the Santa Cruz Islands (which belong to the Solomon Islands), southeast of Nauru, south of Kiribati, west of Tokelau, northwest of Samoa and Wallis and Futuna, and north of Fiji. It comprises three reef islands and six true atolls spread out between the latitude of 5° to 10° south and longitude of 176° to 180°, west of the International Date Line. Tuvalu has a population of 10,640 (2012 census). The total land area of the islands of Tuvalu is 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi).
A referendum was held in December 1974 to determine whether the Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands should each have their own administration. As a consequence of the referendum, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony ceased to exist on 1 January 1976, and the separate British colonies of Kiribati and Tuvalu came into existence. Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978. On 5 September 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.
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