This beautiful island with an estimated population of 1,407 is completely surrounded by a coral reef and has a lagoon in the centre. It is the most westernized island after Funafuti, having hosted European traders and missionaries for more than a century. In the twentieth century, Vaitupu has been notable as the educational centre of Tuvalu. The London Missionary Society (L.M.S.) opened a school there at Motufoua in 1905. In 1979 the Government returned the ownership of the land on which the school was built to those whose forefathers had surrendered it.
Motufoua was not the only school on Vaitupu. In 1923 the Government Primary School was shifted there from Funafuti. The site chosen was called Toamakalili and the school was called Elisefou (New Ellice). Elisefou continued until 1953 when the Government closed it down and shifted the students to King George V School in Kiribati. Tuvalu's first Governor General, Sir Penitala Teo and first Prime Minister, Toalipi Lauti were both pupils at Elisefou.
In 1946 the Vaitupu people purchased Kioa Island in Fiji where a thriving Tuvaluan society exists today. Vaitupu is 135 kilometres north of Funafuti.
(For further information about Vaitupu, please click on Myths and Legends and Tuvaluan Genealogy on the Menu to the left).
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