Tuvalu is a tropical island in the eastern Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Australia. The island's size and population are both very small. It is the second smallest member of the United Nations by population size.
The people of Tuvalu identify as Polynesian, despite the island being under heavy British influence since 1892. In 1974, the island won a bid for separate dependency status, thereby separating it from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. Tuvalu became an independent member of the Commonwealth in 1978.
Tuvalu consists of four reef islands and five atolls. Its total land area is only 26 square kilometers (10 square miles), making it the fourth smallest nation in the world. The land is very low in elevation, with its highest point being 5 meters (16 feet) above sea level. Because of the low elevation, Tuvalu is under constant threat from future sea level rise. The country has made contingency plans, and the entire population will relocate to New Zealand, Niue, or Kioa in the event that the sea level increase leads to a significant loss in land area.