Far from the Bali Hai paradise portrayed by Hollywood, small island states can be highly vulnerable places that face multiple development challenges,such as small population, lack of resources, remoteness, and susceptibility to natural disasters. Their economies are usually small-scale, often dependent on tourism, yet with high transportation and communication costs, and costly public administration and infrastructure.
Poignant proof of their vulnerability is not hard to find. In late February, freak tides submerged large parts of Tuvalu, a small island state in the Pacific. If sea level continues to rise with global warming, Tuvalu, will, effectively, disappear. A month before, the island of Niue, also in the Pacific, was flattened by cyclone Heta, most of its inhabitants seeking refuge in New Zealand. Yet their will to return and rebuild their nation is evidence that islanders' resilience is often more than a match for the challenges they face.
This special feature takes a series of snapshots of what life on a small island means today, in the run-up to an international meeting in Mauritius in August 2004 on sustainable development in small island developing states.
- Special feature