The widely scattered nation of Kiribati, pronounced "Kir-ee-bahs," located in the Pacific Ocean along the edges of the Equator, includes the Gilbert, Phoenix and Line island groups. Most are uninhabited.
These low-lying coral atolls, (33 in all) are the protruding tips of undersea volcanoes, and extend only a few feet above sea level.
The waters surrounding Kiribati witnessed intense whaling activities in the 19th century. The islands were an important battlefield during World War II.
Formerly part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, it gained full independence from Britain in 1979, shortly before the valuable phosphate deposits on the island of Banaba were depleted. Kiribati was therefore awarded millions for the total exploitation of that major resource in 1981.
The local economy now depends on subsistence farming, fishing, and the island's prolific stands of coconut palms, and the subsequent sale of copra (coconut meat.)
The isolated location of the Kiribati islands prevents tourism from flourishing, and becoming a major business, even though the weather is consistently warm, offshore reefs teem with colorful fish, and WWII shipwrecks are commonplace, especially off the eastern edge of Kiritimati (Christmas Island.)
That island, incidentally, is the world's largest coral atoll, and was once used for the testing of nuclear weapons.
For timeline information on Kiribati, go here!
Facts and Figures
- Official Name Republic of Kiribati
- Population 103,100
- Capital City South Tarawa
- Flag here
- Languages I-Kiribati, English (official)
- Official Currency Australian Dollar
- Currency Converter here
- Religions Catholic, Protestant, others
- Land Area 849 sq km (328 sq miles)
- Latitude/Longitude 1º 33N, 172º 99E
- Highest Point 266 ft. (81 m)
- Kiribati Large Color Map here
- Kiribati Map CIA version here
- Kiribati Maps at UT here
- Oceania Maps here
- Kiribati (International Dateline) here
- Kiribati Photos here
- Kiribati (more) Photos here
- Jane's Kiribati website here
- Banaba Island (more) details here
- Christmas Island info here
PASSPORTS - TRAVEL VISAS
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ClimateThe tropical islands of Kiribati are hot and humid throughout the year. The Gilbert Islands receive the most rain, while rainfall is sparse in the Phoenix and Line islands, and extended periods of drought are common.
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