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Named Ellice Islands Tuvalu was a part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands until 1976. On 1 October 1978 the island was granted independence [1]. A coat of arms was granted to the colony by Queen Elizabeth on 3 December 1976. It is:


Arms: parted per fess, the chief Azure, a maneapa standing on a grassy ground, all proper; the base barry wavy of nine Or and Azure; and a bordure Or, charged with eight banana-leaves alternating with eight conches proper.

Motto: TUVALU • MO • TE • ATUA (Tuvalu for the Almighty)


A maneapa is the traditional meeting house for gatherings and decision making. It is a wooden structure covered with leaves. The waves in base symbolize the Pacific. The banana leaves are for the fertility of the country and the eight conches symbolize the eight ilslands of Tuvalu: Funafuti, Nui, Nanumea and Nanumanga, Nukefetau, Nukulaelae, Vaitupu, Niutao en Niukakita.

The motto is the title of the national anthem of Tuvalu.


The arms were designed by R.P. Turner. [2]




© Hubert de Vries, 2009.02.06

[1] The Gilbert Islands were granted independence in 1979 and are named Kiribati now.

[2] Barraclough E.M.C. ed. Flags of the World, London 1978, p. 57. Hesmer K-.H.: Flaggen und Wappen der Welt. Bertelsmann Lexicon-Verlag. Gütersloh,  1992 p. 165. 

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