Funafuti Map, Tuvalu
Funafuti Atoll is the capital of Tuvalu with the country's only functioning airport, the seat of government, and most trading and retail businesses. From Funafuti the other eight islands and atolls of Tuvalu are supplied by infrequent cargo ships. Funafuti's airstrip, constructed by U.S. Army engineers during World War Two, receives several flights a week from Suva, Fiji.
Almost all of Funafuti's 5,000 inhabitants live on Fongafale Island on the east side of the atoll. Most government offices and the only hotel are in Vaiaku near the airport terminal. Retail stores, warehouses, and other businesses are to the north toward the main wharf.
Amatuku Island, north of Fongafale, hosts the Tuvalu Maritime Training School which prepares young Tuvaluans for employment on oceangoing ships. Aside from Amatuku and Fongafale, only Fualefeke and Funafala islands are inhabited. A wartime bunker remains on Tepuka Island.
A 33 square kilometer area of land and water on the west side of the lagoon has been designated the Funafuti Conservation Area. Entry to the reserve's six low coral islets is restricted but a boat and guide can be hired at the Funafuti Town Council or Kaupule. The snorkeling is excellent.
Ships usually enter the Funafuti Lagoon through Te Ava Fuagea, a pass on the west side of the atoll, and navigation across the lagoon to the wharf on Fongafale is treacherous due to the many coral heads and shoals.