The tiny Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu got the world's attention this week in Copenhagen when its proposal for strong, legally binding emissions pacts for all nations held up the work of international climate talks.
Here are some key facts about Tuvalu: * Pronounced too-VAH-loo, it consists of nine coral atolls and is located in the South Pacific Ocean about half-way between Hawaii and Australia. The country's name means group of eight, referring to its eight traditionally inhabited islands. * Tuvalu, which won independence from Great Britain in 1978, is a member of the Alliance of Small Island States, 42 countries that are among the most vulnerable to flooding from rising seas.
* These islands have made some of the tiniest contributions in the world to carbon emissions that scientists link to global warming and the associated rising seas.
* But Tuvalu also has suffered manmade beach erosion from the use of its sand for building materials, along with forest growth clearance for use as fuel.
* Its population of 12,373 makes it one of the smallest countries on Earth, and they live in one of the most remote locations. Subsistence farming and fishing are main occupations in the nearly $15 million economy.
* Anticipating increasing problems related to climate change, the government has asked Australia and New Zealand to accept Tuvaluans if rising sea levels require evacuation.
(Compiled by Richard Cowan from sources including the CIA World Factbook; editing by Robin Pomeroy)