The islands of Tuvalu are scattered over 400 miles of ocean south of the Gilbert Islands. They were administered by the existing Gilbert and Ellice Islands Council of Ministers until January 1, 1976. after which they formed an independent cabinet and legislative assembly. The islanders of Tuvalu are Polynesian, whereas the Gilbertese to the north are Micronesian, one of the reasons for their separation. Also, the Tuvaluans wanted to negotiate their economic and political affairs directly with London instead of through Tarawa, the capital of the Gilbert Islands.
Although the name Tuvalu is a local word meaning "eight standing together", there are really nine islands. The southernmost of the group stands apart and is not permanently inhabited. The old name Ellice commemorates a nineteenth century English politician, Edward Ellice, who owned the ship Rebecca in which Captain Arent de Peyster discovered Funafuti in 1819, on his voyage to the East Indies.
Tuvalu's First Day Cover honouring the Queen's Silver Jubilee was postmarked on February 9, 1977, in Funafuti, capital and major port.