The Europeans began settling and colonizing much of the greater region in the 1800s,
but Tuvalu was primarily left alone since many of the islands are atolls and these
foreigners saw little economic value in them. However, missionaries did arrive as
most of the people converted to Christianity. This alone significantly changed the
culture and lifestyle, but more importantly, many of these missionaries were ethnic
Samoans, which strongly influenced the culture, tying the islands to Samoa and again
solidifying the Polynesian culture.
Later, other economic changes took place on the islands as they became a source
point for the coconut industry, although few foreigners settled even then. However,
World War II destroyed much of the arable lands, making the people shift back to
the seas for survival as the exportation of coconuts nearly ended. However, with
this time period also introduced new technology, which also forever altered the
culture and lifestyle of the people. Today the people maintain much of their Polynesian
culture, but the lifestyle has changed dramatically time and time again, making
the country one that truly unites past and present.