„See Naples and die” – is there anyone, who doesn’t known the famous words by Goethe? The eighteenth-century German scholar was so delighted by this Italian city that he could hardly utter those words. We can, however, paraphrase them to describe the beauty of another place - the archipelago of paradise islands on the Pacific Ocean.
Tuvalu is a country located in western Polynesia. Despite that in Tuvaluan language its name means “eight islands”, in reality it consists of nine, and in Polish is also referred to as Ellice Islands. It’s so exotic and distant that vast majority of people haven’t even heard about it. And even fewer know where it lies. Many of them may never find out – the more that according to the UN researches there’s a big risk that until 2050 it will completely disappear under the surface of the Pacific.
Tuvalu – little wonders on the big ocean
Most of the islands of Tuvalu are tiny. Actually, they are just tiny scraps of land scattered on the water. For example, a beautiful piece of land, Funafuti, has only 2.79 km ², Nukulaelae 1.82 km ², while microscopic Niulakita - just 0.42 km ². The other sisters also bear amazingly sounding names: Nui, Nanumanga, Niutao, Nukufetau, Nanumea and the biggest, Vaitupu (5.60 km ²).
Most people live in the capital atoll of Funafuti, and the fewest in Niulakita, which is even considered to be uninhabited. The official languages are Tuvaluan and English, and about 96% of the inhabitants are Polynesians.
Americans are the ones, who should be blamed for the fact that the islands may disappear under the ocean surface. During the World War II, they literally razed all the hills on Tuvalu, preparing the air base. Because of that islands are very flat (their height doesn’t exceed 5 m).
To prevent tragedy and save the archipelago from the fate of Atlantis, the coasts are strengthened with rapidly growing shrubs and trees. Apart from the action of afforestation, there’s a treaty, which provides a safe and quick evacuation of residents by the New Zealand navy in case of the flooding.
It has to be admitted that it’s a pure irony – to be on the huge ocean, under the threat of flooding in a quite near future and suffer from the scarcity of water at the same time. Drinking water is unbelievably valuable and must be collected in special tanks for rain.
A break from Facebook
Europeans can easily call Ellice Islands the end of the world. Not only because they are so far from the old continent, but also because of being cut off from the achievements of civilization. On the islands, no one will be able to use a cellphone or smartphone, telecommunication is very poorly developed, and the communication is done via two-way radios. International calls are possible via satellite, except that Tuvalu has only one radio station. Only about 15% of population uses the Internet, so holidays on the islands equal a break from social media, blogs and vlogs. But is it a flaw when you stay in such a beautiful place?
That's not all. Ellice Islands have 8 km of paved roads, and the main means of transportation are bicycles and mopeds. Each island can be reached by ships, but further distances require the use of the aircraft. In the capital of Tuvalu you can find an airport with a paved runway.
The local currency is the Tuvaluan dollar which is equal to the Australian dollar. If someone didn’t have time to exchange it, there’s no need to be worried- you can use Australian dollars on the islands without any problems.
Holidays in paradise
On Tuvalu you can feel like the Little Prince on his planet, the islands are in fact microscopic points scattered in the vastness of the ocean. Just one lazy wave would be enough to cover the flat space with merciless water. Bearing this in mind, a man realizes how fragile he is in comparison to the power of the surrounding elements.
For the average European the story of Ellice Islands sounds like a fairy tale, but even though more and more tourists are choosing to come to Tuvalu. There will never be a lot of them, because there’s no possibility to accommodate them on such a small surface. Each year more and more tourists want to visit this heavenly corner. There, they can enjoy amazing hotels, fabulous colors of coral reef and a number of attractions such as scuba diving, snorkeling or relaxing on a yacht.