Adopted in 1978, the current flag of Tuvalu was instated after Tuvalu’s formal separation from the Gilbert Islands in 1976. The flag is very similar to that of other former British dependencies. The background (ensign) to the flag is blue with the Union Flag in the upper left corner. The blue used, however, is a sky blue and not the traditional British blue often used by former colonies. To the right are nine yellow stars symbolizing the nine islands that make up the nation of Tuvalu. The stars are placed geographically correctly on the flag with east being toward the top, and north to the left. Not all the stars point upward and the reasoning for this is unknown. The flag was designed by Vione Natano and was chosen after it was submitted to a nationwide contest to design the new flag of Tuvalu.
The Tuvalu flag’s design has seen a few minor changes in its history. Between 1976 and 1978, Tuvalu was part of the Gilbert Islands. During this time period, the flag used was the traditional British blue with the Union Flag in the upper left corner. To the right was a coat-of-arms which was designed by Arthur Grimble, resident commissioner of the British colony, in 1932. Following the independence of Tuvalu in 1978, the country adopted the current flag that is used today. Briefly, in 1995, one of the nine stars was removed so that the eight stars represented only the eight inhabited islands of Tuvalu. This made the flag consistent with the name Tuvalu which means, “eight standing together”. Between 1996 and 1997 a new flag design was introduced that had the Union Flag as well as the British blue completely removed, and replaced by the original coat-of-arms. This new flag was introduced by Prime Minister Kamuta Latasi. The people of Tuvalu, proud of their monarchy, chose to bring back the original 1978 flag featuring the Union Flag. They were concerned eliminating the Union Flag moved them too close toward a republic. When the original flag was reintroduced in 1997, they also included the ninth star, representing the ninth island which was now inhabited due to increased population in Tuvalu.