The islands are, at best, 15 feet above sea level. Unusually high tides have started flooding the islands -- not by creeping up the beaches, but by bubbling up through the ground, as if the islands were leaky boats. Prime Minister Saufatu Sopoaga has been jetting around the world in a panic, telling anyone who will listen that Tuvalu will be the first victim of global warming. As sea levels rise, tourists might soon be able to see Tuvalu only by snorkel.
Now, that brings up a question: What happens to a domain if a nation disappears? VeriSign spokesman Tom Galvin tells me that a defunct country's Internet domain lives on. For instance, you can still find addresses on .su -- the domain for the Soviet Union.
Anyway, as Galvin points out, Tuvalu would not necessarily cease to exist. Apparently, the laws of the sea say that a country is a country, even if underwater. Sopoaga has said in speeches, "Our sovereignty would not be threatened. Our claim would be maintained on this spot."
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