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Tuvalu’s location—just south of the equator between Fiji and Kiribati—makes it one of the most secluded destinations in the world. Formerly known as Ellice Islands, and not to be confused with the historical island in the harbor of New York, the current name Tuvalu means cluster of eight, although the nation comprises nine islands in total.

The six atolls and three islands that make up Tuvalu together total only 9.5 square miles in land area; if you could drive from the most northern Island of Nanumea to the most southern Island of Niulakita, it would take more than three hours in a Ferrari, going full speed.

With a maximum of 13 feet above sea level, the islands provide the classic image of blue sea and sky, white breakers along the fringing reefs, sand and swaying palms. Within the lagoons, the contrast between the colors of deep and shallow water and the beach is especially dramatic, creating a unique South Seas ambience. The spectacular marine environment consisting of a vast expanse of ocean interspersed with atolls, magnificent lagoons, coral reefs and small islands.

Yet, it is this smallness and secluded location that is part of its attraction. Its nine atolls provide solace and escape from the pressures of the outside world. Visitors will discover a distinctive social Polynesian culture of atoll island people who vigorously maintain their unique social organization, art, crafts, architecture, music, dance, and legends.

A dance event at one of the local meeting houses (called falekaupule) should not be missed, and snorkeling in one of the ocean-side pits on Funafuti provides unforgettable encounters with a stunning underwater world. Among the other highlights of a trip to Tuvalu is a visit to the Funafuti Conservation Area and the Devil Drill, boreholes drilled by scientists from the Royal Society of London to test Charles Darwin’s theory of atoll formation.