After World War II many Tuvaluans migrated to Tarawa, the reinstated capital of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. There were better opportunities for employment, mainly due to rebuilding after the terribly war. They found employment opportunities exceeded their numbers, one reason being that their education system continued during the war, while that of the Gilbertese did not, due to the Japanese occupation. This lead to rivalries within the civil service and an assertion of Gilbertese rights.
Britain prepared the colony for independence by granting self-government in 1974. However, the Ellice Islanders were not pleased at the thought of having their ruling masters changing from the British to the I-Kiribati, and and began seeking ways for secession.
The British conducted a formal inquiry into Tuvaluan attitudes towards secession, and announced that a referendum was to be held, in which Tuvaluans could choose to remain with the Gilberts or secede from them. They are told beforehand that if they separate they would not receive any more royalties from the Ocean Island phosphate or other assets of the colony. Despite this, 3799 Islanders (92%) voted to secede, while 293 vote against secession.
On October 1,1975, legal separation from the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati), took place. On January 1, 1976, full administration of the new colony was transferred to Funafuti from Tarawa. Tuvalu became an Independent Constitutional monarchy and the 38th (special) member of the Commonwealth on the October 1,1978. In 2000, Tuvalu became a full member of the Commonwealth and the 189th member of the United Nations.