Prior to 1976 see Gilbert and Ellice Islands
The nine islands previously making up the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu is located in the central South Pacific south of Kiribati, north of Fiji and northeast of Australia. The islands chose independence from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in a 1974 referendum, and Tuvalu's first stamps appeared at the beginning of 1976. In the early 1980s, Tuvalu stepped up what had been a moderate stamp-issuing program, reaching a climax in 1984-88 with the release of about 100 stamps by each of the component islands of Funafuti, Nanumaga, Nanumea, Niutao, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae and Vaitupu. Only Niulakita, population 74, lacked its own issue. Most of these issues displayed popular topics largely unrelated to the islands.