Tuvalu, an island nation in the South Pacific that’s threatened by rising sea levels, officially became the 187th member of the International Monetary Fund.
The agreement was signed today in Washington by Lotoala Metia, the country’s finance and economic planning minister, the IMF said in an e-mailed statement. The Washington-based fund has rescued countries from Angola to Greece over the past two years.
“With its size and remoteness, Tuvalu faces a unique set of economic challenges,” IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in the statement. “I am confident that fund membership will help Tuvalu strengthen its economic footing.”
According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, the former British colony has a population of about 10,500 and consists of nine coral atolls about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.
Tuvalu, with a land mass of 16 square miles (26 square kilometers), derives royalties from leasing its rights to “.tv” as part of Internet domain names, according to the U.S. The country’s residents are concerned that global warming will raise sea levels and force them to evacuate, according to the U.S.
The CIA calls Tuvalu “one of the smallest and most remote countries on Earth.”