Tuvalu: the First Digital Nation



Kevin Han

Tuvalu, a small island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, consists of nine coral atolls with a total land area of just 26 square kilometers. It has a population of around 11,000 people and is one of the smallest and least populated countries in the world.

Tuvalu is also one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and more frequent and severe storms. Tuvalu has been suffering from rising sea levels, caused by global warming, for the past few decades. Nearly 40% of the nation is submerged by water during the high tide and is predicted to be fully underwater by the end of the century.

Because of the issue of the sinking islands, Tuvalu is undergoing a project in which the entire nation is being replicated in the metaverse. By transforming the country into the metaverse, Tuvalu hopes to continue functioning as a single nation, regardless of where its government or people are located in the world.

Tuvalu’s Minister for Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs, Simon Kofe, addressed the crisis and announced the project at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November 2022. Kofe explained in a speech that “as our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation… Islands like this one won’t survive rapid temperature increases, rising sea levels, and droughts, so we will recreate them virtually.”

Currently, Tuvalu is working on transferring its smallest island, Teafualiku Islet, into the metaverse.

Because of Tuvalu’s unfortunate circumstances, its hundreds of years of history will disappear if nothing is done. In addition to moving the islands over to the metaverse, Tuvalu’s culture and traditions will be imported over as well.

The history of Tuvalu is one of migration, with Polynesian people first settling on the islands around 2,000 years ago. The islands were later visited by European explorers in the 16th and 17th centuries and were soon annexed by Great Britain in the late 19th century. Tuvalu was administered as part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands but gained separate colonial status in 1976. It became fully independent in 1978 and has since become a member of the United Nations and other international organizations. Throughout its history, Tuvalu has maintained a strong cultural identity, with traditional practices and beliefs continuing to play an important role in daily life.

Tuvalu has a rich and distinct culture, influenced by its Polynesian heritage and the traditions of its nine inhabited islands. Family and community are central to Tuvaluan culture, and many traditional practices and customs continue to be observed today. These include dance, music, weaving, and storytelling, which are often accompanied by the use of handmade crafts and traditional costumes.

Tuvalu’s decision to convert their nation into a digital one might be the first step to a more technologically influenced world, even more than it is now, as more and more countries could decide to join Tuvalu in the metaverse.