The official language spoken in Tuvalu is English since the country was a British protectorate. In spite of the language being unpopular with the locals, it is the language of instruction in schools. Besides its use in schools, English is also commonly used by foreigners and in the business arenas. Residents of Funafuti possess only a basic knowledge of English. Most of them speak the Tuvaluan language which is linguistically a Polynesian language. About 11,000 residents speak the Tuvaluan as their first language. Due to its popularity among the inhabitants, Tuvaluans use it alongside English in government offices and churches.


The major ethnic groups in Tuvalu are Polynesians and Micronesians. The Polynesians make up 96% of the population of Tuvalu while the Micronesians are only 4%. Examples of Polynesians in Tuvalu are the Samoans and Tuvaluans. Kiribati is an example of a Micronesian language in Tuvalu.

Examples of Tuvaluan phrases include “Ulufale mai!" to say "Welcome”, “Tālofa!" to say "Hello!”, and “E ā koe?" to say "How are you?"

The minority languages spoken in Tuvalu include Samoan, Gilbertese, and Kiribati. Samoan and Tuvaluan are closely related. As a result, many Tuvaluans also speak Samoan. Gilbertese came about as a result of the interactions of the Tuvaluans with residents of Gilbert Island. The language is the native of the Nui Island; however, it is a minority language on the other islands. Being located near Kiribati, the people of Tuvalu through intermarriage and their interactions have learned Kiribati.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018