Pre-history[ edit ] The origins of the people of Tuvalu are addressed in the theories regarding migration into the Pacific that began about years ago. During pre-European-contact times there was frequent canoe voyaging between the nearer islands including Samoa and Tonga. Possible evidence of fire in the Caves of Nanumanga may indicate human occupation for thousands of years. An important creation myth of the islands of Tuvalu is the story of the te Pusi mo te Ali the Eel and the Flounder who created the islands of Tuvalu ;  te Ali the flounder is believed to be the origin of the flat atolls of Tuvalu and the te Pusin the Eel is the model for the coconut palms that are important in the lives of Tuvaluans. The stories as to the ancestors of the Tuvaluans vary from island to island.
For several decades around the turn of the 18th century, the islands became popular pirate hideouts. From —, the islands were under French occupation, and again after the French captured the archipelago in After the American War of Independence — , many Loyalists fled to British Caribbean colonies; in , they were the first settlers on the Caicos Islands. They developed cotton as an important cash crop, but it was superseded by the development of the salt industry. In , both the Turks and the Caicos island groups were annexed by Britain as part of the Bahamas.