Nanumea TIDC  

Nanumea mapNanumea is the most northern island of Tuvalu. It is a true atoll and consists of five islands (or motu). The two main islands of Nanumea and Lakena are separated by two small lagoons that do not have any natural navigational passages to the ocean.

Nanumea is located about 460 kilometres northwest of Funafuti.

The largest motu, Nanumea gives its name to that of the atoll, and the main village is located there. An airstrip was built on the eastern arm of Nanumea by the Americans during World War II. It is now overgrown with vegetation. The Americans also made a passage to he lagoon off the western arm. A wrecked cargo ship from the war is still visible nearby. The remains of a Navy Bomber and other aircraft and military machines can still seen on other parts of the island.

Lotolelei Church in the main village of Nanumea is a fairly large building which has an interesting Gothic look. It has a tower that is said to be one of the tallest in the South Pacific. The name means "willingness to give". Construction began in 1931 and was completed in 1937. The church was financed by the people of Nanumea, having raised funds by selling copra and working in the phosphate mines of Banaba (Ocean island) and Nauru. The church was partially damaged by a Japanese bomb in 1943.

There is a freshwater pond on the southeast part of Lakena, such a natural body of water being a rarity for an atoll. It is called Tekoko, with translates to "the bath".

The total land area of Nanumea is 3.87 square kilometres, and approximately 10 kilometres long by 1.5 kilometres at its maximum width.

664 people live on Nanumea according to the 2002 census.


The motu names are as follows:

  • Lakena
  • Lefogaki
  • Nanumea
  • Teatua a Taepoa
  • Temotufoliki
Nanumea, 2004. Photo courtesy of

Nanumea village from Google Earth


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