The Only Country In The World That Spreads Across All Four Hemispheres

Kiribati's unique location in the South Pacific.
Kiribati's unique location in the South Pacific.

Kiribati is the world's only nation whose territory lies within all four of the earth's hemispheres while Africa is the world's only continent to achieve a similar distinction. The word hemisphere has its roots in the Ancient Greek language from the word hēmisphairion which refers to a single half of a spherical object. The modern usage of the term hemisphere usually denotes a division of the world into two by either the use of latitudes or longitudes. The equator is the latitude used to split the world into two hemispheres, the Northern and Southern hemispheres, while the prime meridian is the longitude that separates the world into the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Hemispheres, mainly the Eastern and Western hemispheres, may also denote a cultural division within the world. Nations usually occupy territory within one hemisphere with a few notable exceptions such as Mali, Algeria, and France which are located in two hemispheres.


Kiribati is a 313 square mile nation within the Pacific Ocean with an estimated population of about 110,136 people according to a census carried out in 2015. Kiribati was once under the dominion of the United Kingdom and gained its independence in 1979. The nation uses the Kiribati dollar as the primary currency, however, the Australian dollar is also accepted. The state lacks a variety of natural resources which has contributed to Kiribati's ranking as one of the world's least developed nations. Fish is one of the nation's major exports.


The nation of Kiribati is comprised of a single solitary island as well as 32 atolls spread out across three groups of islands: the Gilbert Islands that consist of 16 atolls as well as the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands each composed of 8 atolls. Only 21 of the nation's atolls have people living within them. Kiribati's position is unique since both the equator and the antemeridian cross through its territory. The Phoenix Islands and Banaba are located to the south of the equator which places them in the southern hemisphere while the Gilbert Islands are found in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Kiribati has dominion over eight of the 11 islands that make up the Line Islands, and the International Date Line crosses through the islands.

Distinct Location

Due to its distinct location, it is the nation that is most distant from the Greenwich meantime. Every year Kiribati is the first nation in the world to usher in the New Year but only in specific territories. Because the Line Islands were the first to usher in the new millennium globally, the government changed the name of the Caroline Island to the Millennium Island.

Importance of Hemispheres

The hemispheres of the world are an essential tool primarily in the study of global climate. Dividing the world into two allows scientists to study the areas independently as well as reduce the bulk of the material being examined. The climate of one hemisphere is analyzed in relation the other hemispheres and scientists can make more informed conclusions from their research.


More in World Facts