Tuvalu is one of those idyllic South Pacific islands where, in principle, we’d all like to retire or, better yet, hide from the world for a holiday, but the annual average number of tourists hasn’t exceeded 1,500 in the last two decades.
Its main feature is the Funafuti Conservation Area, which spans 33 square kilometers of reefs, lagoons, channels, and the ocean. It was founded in 1999 to protect marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Now that you know where Tuvalu is, you should know that Funafuti is an atoll that serves as Tuvalu’s capital, as well as the country’s economic and population center. You will be able to dive or snorkel in the huge lake, which is home to the world’s largest coral reef. This gorgeous seabed, with its many brilliant colors and marine species that were seen nowhere else on the planet, is not to be missed.
The 1986 Constitution of Tuvalu, as modified; the 1979 Citizenship Ordinance, as amended; and numerous British Nationality statutes govern Tuvaluan nationality law. These laws define who is a Tuvaluan national or who is qualified to become one. Tuvaluan nationality is normally acquired by either the principle of jus soli, i.e. birth in Tuvalu, or the rules of jus sanguinis, i.e. birth abroad to Tuvaluan parents.
It can be awarded to people who have a connection to the country or to permanent residents who have resided in the country for a certain period. As a citizen of a sovereign nation, one’s nationality establishes one’s international identity. Though not synonymous with citizenship, the United Kingdom, and hence the commonwealth, have long used the terms interchangeably for rights conferred under domestic law for domestic reasons.
Tuvaluan nationality can be obtained at birth or later in life by registration or naturalization.
Nationality is acquired at birth for the following people:
- Unless a parent has diplomatic immunity, someone born in Tuvalu;
- Persons born outside of Tuvalu to a Tuvaluan national;
- As long as there is no indication of other nationalities, foundlings.
Those who have a familial or historic link with Tuvalu are considered nationals by registration. Individuals who obtain nationality by registration include:
- Persons who have been adopted by a Tuvaluan national, or who would have been a Tuvaluan national if not for death;
- Minor children of a Tuvaluan national or a person who would have been a national if they hadn’t died;
- Persons who did not automatically obtain nationality when Tuvalu gained independence; or foreign spouses of Tuvaluans.
In Tuvalu, regular naturalization is obtained by applying to the Citizenship Commission, which is in charge of immigration. Applicants must demonstrate that they are of excellent moral character, that they are financially self-sufficient, and that they want to live in the region. They must be able to show that they have lived in the country for at least seven years.
After a five-year residency, former nationals who have lost their citizenship may apply for naturalization. Those who have worked for the government in a paid capacity overseas for a minimum of seven years are also eligible for special naturalization. A loyalty oath is required of applicants who are authorized for naturalization.
Tuvaluan nationals may abandon their citizenship if they are of legal age and capacity and have obtained another nationality, though renunciation may be prohibited during times of war. Only if a person obtains nationality through fraud, false representation, or concealment can they be denaturalized.