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Tuvalu

2020 Stamp Programme

The Republic of Palau currently utilizes the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation as its stamp production agent.  As a result, many of its issues have little to no relevance with topics related to the island.

  1.   17 June 2020:  U.S. Constitution 19th Amendment Centenary
  2.   07 August 2020:  H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
  3.   11 August 2020:  COVID-19 — A Tribute to Those on the Front Lines

Tuvalu (formerly known as the Ellice Islands) is an island country in the Polynesian subregion of Oceania, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and situated about midway between Hawaii and Australia. The country 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 is composed of 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 11,192 (2017 census). The total land area of the islands of Tuvalu is 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi).

The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesians. The origins of the people of Tuvalu are addressed in the theories regarding migration into the Pacific that began about three thousand years ago. During pre-European-contact times there was frequent canoe voyaging between the islands as Polynesian navigation skills are recognized to have allowed deliberate journeys on double-hull sailing canoes or outrigger canoes. The pattern of settlement that is believed to have occurred is that the Polynesians spread out from Samoa and Tonga into the Tuvaluan atolls, with Tuvalu providing a stepping stone to further migration into the Polynesian outliers in Melanesia and Micronesia.

In 1568, Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña was the first European to sail through the archipelago, sighting the island of Nui during his expedition in search of Terra Australis. The island of Funafuti was named Ellice’s Island in 1819; the name Ellice was applied to all of the nine islands after the work of English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay. The Ellice Islands came into Great Britain’s sphere of influence in the late 19th century, as the result of a treaty between Great Britain and Germany relating to the demarcation of the spheres of influence in the Pacific Ocean. Each of the Ellice Islands was declared a British Protectorate by Captain Gibson of HMS Curacoa between 9 and 16 October 1892. The Ellice Islands were administered as a British protectorate by a Resident Commissioner from 1892 to 1916, as part of the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT), and then as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony from 1916 to 1976.

A referendum was held in 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 as a sovereign state within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978. On 5 September 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.


The Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau was established on 1 January 1976, which was the day the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony was dissolved and Tuvalu was established with separate British dependency status. The first postage stamp cancellation devices were put into use the same day. The first issue was a set of provisional overprinted definitive stamps and a commemorative set of three stamps. Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978.

In the late 1980s, Tuvalu became involved in a court case with Clive Feigenbaum, who was the Chairman of the Philatelic Distribution Corporation (P.D.C.). The legal case made claims in relation to a contract with the government of Tuvalu relating to allegations as to the deliberate production of stamps with errors for sale to collectors at inflated prices. According to the New York Times, “P.D.C. produced 14,000 deliberate errors: stamps with inverted centers, missing elements or perforation varieties, which it sold for inflated prices”.

Tuvalu became a member of the Universal Postal Union on 3 February 1981.

The philatelic business activities are authorized by the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau Ordinance (1982). Karl Tili was the first Tuvaluan general manager of the Bureau from 1989 to 31 December 2011.

In 2013, the Tuvalu government was proposing to merge the Bureau with the Tuvalu Post Office,. which is regulated by the Tuvalu Post Office Act 1977. The Tuvalu Post Office is not separately constituted and is a government department.

Addressing in Tuvalu has been virtually non-existent. As at 2018, fewer than 10 streets in the capital Funafuti were named, and only 100 homes and 10 businesses had a postal address. Most people had to travel to send or retrieve mail, and some did not have access to postal services at all. In 2018, Tuvalu Post, the country’s official postal operator, made what3words a national standard for addresses, enabling home deliveries for the first time.

The Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau has published a newsletter since March 1976, initially under the name News and Views. In 1999 the name was changed to Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau Newsletter. The Newsletter provides information about new stamp issues and articles about Tuvalu.

The issued of Tuvalu are now handled by two different philatelic agencies. These stamps are issued with the approval of the Tuvalu government, but are produced at the discretion of the agencies involved, without requiring approval of the Stamp Advisory Committee. Most of them are no longer valid for postage.