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Republic of Kiribati
Kiribati
Flag Coat of arms
MottoTe Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa
(English: Health, Peace and Prosperity)
AnthemTeirake Kaini Kiribati
Capital
(and largest city)
South Tarawa
1°28′N 173°2′E / 1.467°N 173.033°E / 1.467; 173.033
Official language(s) English, Gilbertese
Demonym I-Kiribati
Government Republic
 -  President Anote Tong
Independence
 -  from United Kingdom July 12, 1979 
Area
 -  Total 726 km2 (186th)
280 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0
Population
 -  2009 estimate 98,000[1] (197th)
 -  2005 census 92,533 
 -  Density 135/km2 (73rd)
350/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $609 million[2] 
 -  Per capita $6,122[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $137 million[2] 
 -  Per capita $1,372[2] 
HDI (1998) .515 (medium) (unranked)
Currency Kiribati dollar
Australian dollar (AUD)
Time zone (UTC+12, +13, +14)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .ki
Calling code 686
1 Supplemented by a nearly equal amount from external sources.

Kiribati (pronounced /ˈkɪrɨbæs/ ( listen) KIRR-i-bas;[3] Gilbertese[ˈkiɾibas]), officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. It is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3,500,000 square kilometres, (1,351,000 square miles) straddling the equator, and bordering the International Date Line to the east. The name Kiribati is the local pronunciation of "Gilberts", derived from the main island chain, the Gilbert Islands. Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the IMF and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.

Contents

Etymology

Kiribati was named Gilbert Islands after the British Captain Thomas Gilbert, who sighted the islands in 1788. The current name, Kiribati, is an adaptation of "Gilberts", from the former European name the "Gilbert Islands". Although the indigenous Gilbertese language name for the Gilbert Islands proper is Tungaru, the new state chose the name "Kiribati", the Gilbertese rendition of "Gilberts", as an equivalent of the former colony to acknowledge the inclusion of islands which were never considered part of the Gilberts chain.[4]

History

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Early history

The area now called Kiribati has been inhabited by Micronesians speaking the same Oceanic language since sometime between 3000 BC[5] and AD 1300. The area was not isolated; invaders from Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji later introduced Polynesian and Melanesian cultural aspects, respectively. Intermarriage tended to blur cultural differences and resulted in a significant degree of cultural homogenisation.[6]

Colonial era

The islands were first sighted by British and American ships in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The main island chain was named the Gilbert Islands in 1820 by a Russian admiral, Adam von Krusenstern, and French captain Louis Duperrey, after a British captain named Thomas Gilbert, who crossed the archipelago in 1788 when sailing from Australia to China.[7]

American troops during the Gilbert Island Campaign

From the early 19th century, Western whalers, merchant vessels and slave traders visited the islands, introducing diseases and firearms.[8] The first British settlers arrived in 1837. In 1892 the Gilbert Islands consented to become a British protectorate together with the nearby Ellice Islands. They were administered by the Western Pacific High Commission based in Fiji.[7] Together they became the crown colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1916. Kiritimati (Christmas Island) became part of the colony in 1919 and the Phoenix Islands were added in 1937.

Tarawa Atoll and others of the Gilbert group were occupied by Japan during World War II. Tarawa was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in US Marine Corps history. Marines landed in November 1943; the Battle of Tarawa was fought at Kiribati's former capital Betio on Tarawa Atoll.

Some of the islands of Kiribati, especially in the remote Line Islands, were formerly used by the United States and United Kingdom for nuclear weapons testing including hydrogen bombs in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Independence to present day

The Gilbert and Ellice Islands gained self-rule in 1971, and were separated in 1975 and granted internal self-government by Britain. In 1978 the Ellice Islands became the independent nation of Tuvalu. The Gilbert Islands became independent as Kiribati on July 12, 1979. Although the indigenous Gilbertese language name for the Gilbert Islands proper is "Tungaru", the new state chose the name "Kiribati", the Gilbertese rendition of "Gilberts", as an equivalent of the former colony to acknowledge the inclusion of Banaba, the Line Islands, and the Phoenix Islands, which were never considered part of the Gilberts chain.[9] In the Treaty of Tarawa, signed shortly after independence and ratified in 1983, the United States relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix Islands and those of the Line Islands that are part of Kiribati territory.

Overcrowding has been a problem. In 1988 it was announced that 4,700 residents of the main island group would be resettled onto less-populated islands. Teburoro Tito was elected president in 1994. Kiribati's 1995 act of moving the international date line far to the east to encompass Kiribati's Line Islands group, so that it would no longer be divided by the date line, courted controversy. The move, which fulfilled one of President Tito's campaign promises, was intended to allow businesses all across the expansive nation to keep the same business week. This also enabled Kiribati to become the first country to see the dawn of the third millennium, an event of significance for tourism. Tito was reelected in 1998. Kiribati gained UN membership in 1999.[10]

In 2002 Kiribati passed a controversial law enabling the government to shut down newspapers. The legislation followed the launching of Kiribati's first successful nongovernment-run newspaper. President Tito was reelected in 2003, but was removed from office in March 2003 by a no-confidence vote and replaced by a Council of State. Anote Tong of the opposition party Boutokaan Te Koaua was elected to succeed Tito in July 2003. He was re-elected in 2007.[11]

In the summer of 2008, Kiribati officials asked Australia and New Zealand to accept Kiribati citizens as permanent refugees. Kiribati is expected to be the first country in which all land territory disappears due to global climate change. In June 2008, the Kiribati president Anote Tong said that the country has reached "the point of no return"; he added: "To plan for the day when you no longer have a country is indeed painful but I think we have to do that."[12][13][14][15]

Politics

The Former Kiribati House of Assembly
Kiribati Parliament House

The Kiribati Constitution, promulgated July 12, 1979, provides for free and open elections. The executive branch consists of a president (te Beretitenti), a vice president and a cabinet (the president is also chief of the cabinet and has to be MP). Under the constitution, the president, nominated from among the elected legislators, is limited to three 4-year terms. The cabinet is composed of the president, vice president and 10 ministers (appointed by the president) who are members of the House of Assembly.

The legislative branch is the unicameral Maneaba Ni Maungatabu (House of Assembly). It has elected members, including by constitutional mandate a representative of the Banaban people in Fiji ( Banaba Island, former Ocean Island), in addition to the attorney general, who serves as an ex-officio member. Legislators serve for a four-year term.

The constitutional provisions governing administration of justice are similar to those in other former British possessions in that the judiciary is free from governmental interference. The judicial branch is made up of the High Court (in Betio) and the Court of Appeal. The president appoints the presiding judges.

Local government is through island councils with elected members. Local affairs are handled in a manner similar to town meetings in colonial America. Island councils make their own estimates of revenue and expenditure and generally are free from central government controls.

Presidential residence

Kiribati has formal political parties but their organisation is quite informal. Ad hoc opposition groups tend to coalesce around specific issues. Today the only recognisable parties are the Boutokaan te Koaua Party, Maneaban te Mauri Party, Maurin Kiribati Party and Tabomoa Party. There is universal suffrage at age 18.[16]

In government terms, Kiribati has a police force, which carries out law enforcement functions and paramilitary duties, and which has small police posts on all islands, but no military. The police have one patrol boat.[17] Security assistance would be provided if necessary by Australia and New Zealand.

Island groups

Kiribati was formally divided into districts until its independence. The country now is divided into three island groups which have no administrative function, including a group which unites the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands (ministry at London, Christmas). Each inhabited island has its own council (three councils on Tarawa: Betio, South-Tarawa, North-Tarawa; two councils on Tabiteuea). The original districts used to be:

The island groups include:

Four of the former districts (including Tarawa) lie in the Gilbert Islands, where most of the country's population lives. Five of the Line Islands are uninhabited (Malden Island, Starbuck Island, Caroline Island, Vostok Island and Flint Island). The Phoenix Islands are uninhabited except for Kanton, and have no representation. Banaba itself is sparsely inhabited now. There is also a non-elected representative of the Banabans on Rabi Island in the nation of Fiji. Each of the 21 inhabited islands has a local council that takes care of the daily affairs. Tarawa Atoll has three councils: Betio Town Council, Te Inainano Urban Council (for the rest of South Tarawa) and Eutan Tarawa Council (for North Tarawa).

Foreign relations

Kiribati was admitted as the 186th member of the United Nations in September 1999.

Regional relations

Kiribati maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbours, Japan, Australia and New Zealand; the latter three provide the majority of the country's foreign aid. Taiwan and Japan also have specified-period licences to fish in Kiribati's waters.[citation needed]

In November 1999 it was announced that Japan's National Space Development Agency planned to lease land on Kiritimati (Christmas Island) for 20 years, on which to build a spaceport.[citation needed] The agreement stipulated that Japan was to pay US$840,000 per year and would also pay for any damage to roads and the environment. A Japanese-built downrange tracking station operates on Kiritimati[20] and an abandoned airfield on the island was designated as the landing strip for a proposed reusable unmanned space shuttle called HOPE-X. HOPE-X, however, was eventually canceled by Japan in 2003.[citation needed]

United States relations

The Peace Corps, an independent United States federal agency, announced plans to pull out of Kiribati in November 2008 after 35 years of working in the country.[21] Michael Koffman, the Peace Corps Country Director for Kiribati, cited the frequently cancelled and erratic domestic air service in the country as the main reason why the Peace Corps was leaving Kiribati.[21]

Geography

Kiribati map LOC.jpg

Kiribati consists of about 32 atolls and one island (Banaba), with at least three in each hemisphere. The groups of islands are:

  • Banaba: an isolated island between Nauru and the Gilbert Islands
  • Gilbert Islands: 16 atolls located some 930 miles (1,500 km) north of Fiji
  • Phoenix Islands: 8 atolls and coral islands located some 1,100 miles (1,800 km) southeast of the Gilberts
  • Line Islands: 8 atolls and one reef, located about 2,050 miles (3,300 km) east of the Gilberts
Caroline Atoll channel between west side of Long Island and Nake Island.

Banaba (or Ocean Island) is a raised-coral island which was once a rich source of phosphates, but it was mostly mined out before independence. The rest of the land in Kiribati consists of the sand and reef rock islets of atolls or coral islands which rise but a few metres (half a dozen feet or so) above sea level. The soil is thin and calcareous, making agriculture very difficult. Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the Line Islands is the world's largest atoll. Based on a 1995 realignment of the International Date Line, Kiribati is now the easternmost country in the world, and was the first country to enter into the year 2000 at Caroline Island, which, not coincidentally, has been renamed Millennium Island.[22]

According to the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, two small uninhabited Kiribati islets, Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea, disappeared underwater in 1999. The islet of Tepuka Savilivili (Tuvalu; not a Gilbertese name) no longer has any coconut trees due to salination.[23] The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will rise by about half a metre (20 in) by 2100 due to global warming and a further rise would be inevitable. It is thus likely that within a century the nation's arable land will become subject to increased soil salination and will be largely submerged.[24] Kiribati is the only country in the world to be located in both hemispheres and lying on both sides of the 180th meridian.

Economy

A supermarket in Kiribati

Kiribati is one of the world's poorest countries. It has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits on Banaba were exhausted at the time of independence. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of GDP. Kiribati is considered one of the least developed countries in the world.

Foreign financial aid, largely from the United Kingdom and Japan, is a critical supplement, equal in recent years to 25% to 50% of GDP. Agriculture accounts for 12.4% of GDP and 71% of labour; industry 0.9% of GDP and 1.9% of labour; trade 18.5% of GDP and 4.1% of labour; commercial trade 5.7% of GDP and 1.4% of labour; and service industries 5.7% of GDP and 1.4% of labour. The main trading partners are Australia, USA, France, Japan, Hong Kong and Germany.[citation needed]

In 1956 Kiribati established a sovereign wealth fund to act as a store of wealth for the country's earnings from phosphate mining. In 2008 the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund was valued at US$ 400 million.[25]

Balance of payments

Kiribati's narrow export base and its enormous need for imports contribute to the country’s large deficit in the merchandise trade balance. However, the country has several sources of external income, including fishing licence fees, investment income, seamen’s remittances and external grants.[citation needed] These inflows are usually more than sufficient to finance the large trade deficit. As a result, Kiribati’s current account balance has been in surplus most of the time in the past decade. International reserves have remained at around US$300 million since 2001.[citation needed]

Demographics

The native people of Kiribati are called I-Kiribati. The word Kiribati is the local spelling of the word Gilbert and the original name of this British colony was the Gilbert Islands. The indigenous format of the name was adopted when independence was gained in 1979.

Ethnically, the I-Kiribati are Micronesians. Recent archaeological evidence indicates that Austronesians originally settled the islands thousands of years ago. Around the 14th century, Fijians and Tongans invaded the islands, thus complicating the ethnic range; people of Polynesian ancestry further diversified the ethnic typologies. Intermarriage among all ancestral groups, however, has led to a population reasonably homogeneous in appearance and traditions.

The people of Kiribati speak an Oceanic language called "Gilbertese". Although English is the official language, it is not used very often outside the island capital of Tarawa. It is more likely that English is mixed in its use with Gilbertese. Older generations of I-Kiribati tend to use more complicated versions of the language.

Christianity is the major religion, having been introduced by missionaries in the 19th century. The population is predominantly Roman Catholic, although a substantial portion of the population is Congregationalist Protestant. Many other Protestant denominations, including more evangelical types, are also represented. The Bahá'í religion also exists in Kiribati, along with Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the latter numbering 11,511 at the end of 2005.[26]

Human development

The people of Kiribati mostly live in villages with populations between 50 and 3,000 on the outer islands. Most houses are made of materials obtained from coconut and pandanus trees. Frequent droughts hinder reliable large-scale agriculture, so the islanders have largely turned to the sea for livelihood and subsistence. Most are outrigger sailors and fishers. Copra plantations serve as a second source of employment. In recent years, large numbers of citizens have moved to the more urban island capital of Tarawa.[citation needed]

Health

The population of Kiribati has a life expectancy at birth of 60 years (57 for males, and 63 for females) and an infant mortality rate of 54 deaths per 1,000 live births. Tuberculosis is present in the country. [27] Government expenditure on health was at US$ 268 (PPP) in 2006. [28] In 1990-2007, there were 23 physicians per 100,000 persons. [29] After the arrival of Cuban doctors, the infant mortality rate has decreased massively. [30]

Education

Primary education is free and compulsory for the first six years, now being extended to nine years. Mission schools are slowly being absorbed into the government primary school system. Higher education is expanding; students may seek technical, teacher or marine training, or study in other countries. To date, most choosing to do the latter have gone to Fiji, and those wishing to complete medical training have been sent to Cuba.[31]

Transport

Beginning in January 2009, Kiribati has two domestic airlines: Air Kiribati and Coral Sun Airways. Both airlines are based out of Tarawa's Bonriki International Airport and serve destinations across the Gilbert Islands only.[citation needed]

Neither the Phoenix nor Line Islands are served by the domestic carriers. Fiji's national carrier Air Pacific provides an international service from Fiji's main airport, Nadi International Airport. Our Airline, the national airline of Nauru, formerly provided service to Nauru International Airport, connecting to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, and further to Brisbane, Australia, but this service was cancelled in June 2008.[32]

Culture

Songs (te anene) and above all dances (te mwaie) are held in high regard.

Music

Kiribati folk music is generally based around chanting or other forms of vocalizing, accompanied by body percussion. Public performances in modern Kiribati are generally performed by a seated chorus, accompanied by a guitar. However, during formal performances of the standing dance (Te Kaimatoa) or the hip dance (Te Buki) a wooden box is used as a percussion instrument. This box is constructed so as to give a hollow and reverberating tone when struck simultaneously by a chorus of men sitting around it. Traditional songs are often love-themed, but there are also competitive, religious, children's, patriotic, war and wedding songs[citation needed]. There are also stick dances (which accompany legends and semi-historical stories[citation needed]. These stick dances or 'tirere' (pronounced seerere) are only performed during major festivals.

Dance

A welcome display

The uniqueness of Kiribati when compared with other forms of Pacific island dance is its emphasis on the outstretched arms of the dancer and the sudden birdlike movement of the head. The Frigate bird (Fregata minor) on the Kiribati flag refers to this bird-like style of Kiribati dancing. Most dances are in the standing or sitting position with movement limited and staggered. Smiling whilst dancing is generally considered vulgar within the context of Kiribati dancing. This is due to its origin of not being solely as a form of entertainment but as a form of storytelling and a display of the skill, beauty and endurance of the dancer.[33]

Outside perspectives

Edward Carlyon Eliot, who was Resident Commissioner of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands (now Kiribati & Tuvalu) from 1913 to 1920 describes this period in his book "Broken Atoms" (autobiographical reminiscences) Pub. G. Bles, London, 1938.

Sir Arthur Grimble wrote about his time working in the British colonial service in Kiribati (then the Gilbert Islands) from 1914 to 1932 in two popular books A Pattern of Islands (1952) and Return to the Islands (1957). He also undertook academic studies of Gilbertese culture.

J. Maarten Troost's more recent autobiographical experiences on the Tarawa Atoll are documented in his book The Sex Lives of Cannibals (2004).

See also

References

  1. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Kiribati". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=826&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=105&pr.y=9. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  3. ^ kiribati - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  4. ^ Reilly Ridgell. Pacific Nations and Territories: The Islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. 3rd Edition. Honolulu: Bess Press, 1995. p. 95
  5. ^ "Cinderellas of the Empire", Barrie Macdonald, IPS, University of the South Pacific, 2001, p. 1
  6. ^ I-Kiribati Ministry of Finance and Economic Development: "History"
  7. ^ a b "BBC Timeline:Kiribati". BBC. 15 May 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/2944816.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  8. ^ see reference note n°3
  9. ^ Reilly Ridgell. "Pacific Nations and Territories: The Islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia". 3rd Edition. Honolulu: Bess Press, 1995. p. 95
  10. ^ http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/58/statements/kirieng031001.htm
  11. ^ http://www.electionguide.org/country.php?ID=113
  12. ^ "Leader of disappearing island nation says climate change an issue of survival, not economics", International Herald Tribune, June 5, 2008
  13. ^ "Kiribati's President: 'Our Lives Are At Stake': For the Islands of Kiribati, Global Warming Poses Immediate Dangers", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, April 2, 2007
  14. ^ "Paradise lost: climate change forces South Sea islanders to seek sanctuary abroad", The Independent, June 6, 2008
  15. ^ "Tiny atoll in Pacific cries out for help", The Times of India, June 6, 2008
  16. ^ http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/erc/bgnotes/eap/kiribati9506.html
  17. ^ Pacific Forum class patrol boat
  18. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSP231103 Reuters
  19. ^ Russell, Christine (2 2009). "First Wave". Science News 175 (5): 25–29. 
  20. ^ FDSN Station Info - XMAS
  21. ^ a b Bataua, Batiri (2008-07-03). "Peace Corps To Quit Kiribati". Pacific Magazine. http://www.pacificmagazine.net/news/2008/07/03/peace-corps-to-quit-kiribati. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  22. ^ Harris, Aimee (April 1999). "Millennium: Date Line Politics". Honolulu Magazine. http://www.trussel.com/kir/dateline.htm. Retrieved 2006-06-14. 
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ Debate on Climate Shifts to Issue of Irreparable Change - washingtonpost.com
  25. ^ Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute
  26. ^ Global Mormonism » Kiribati at globalmormonism.byu.edu
  27. ^ http://apps.who.int/globalatlas/predefinedReports/TB/PDF_Files/kir.pdf
  28. ^ http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_KIR.html
  29. ^ http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/population-health/variable-1297.html
  30. ^ http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=33793
  31. ^ Pacific Magazine: I-Kiribati Students Perform Well In Cuba
  32. ^ "Nauru’s airline cooperates with Solomons as fuel price hikes bite". Radio New Zealand International. http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=40540. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  33. ^ See Robert Louis Stevenson's In the South Seas and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards winner Akekeia! by Tony & Joan Whincup, Wellington, 2001.
  • (1997) Pancorbo, Luis: "Kiribati existe" Pp. 29–43; y "De Abemama a Madrid" Pp. 43–54 en "Son los mares del Sur". Maeva, Madrid. ISBN 84-86478-60-X

External links

General information


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Kiribati
noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:kr-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Tarawa
Government Republic
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Area total: 811 km2
Population 105,432 (July 2006 est.)
Language I-Kiribati, English (official)
Religion Roman Catholic 52%, Protestant (Congregational) 40%, some Seventh-Day Adventist, Muslim, Baha'i, Latter-day Saints, and Church of God (1999)
Calling Code +686
Internet TLD .ki
Time Zone UTC+12 to +14

Kiribati [1] (pronounced Kiri-bass) is an island group in Micronesia straddling the equator and, until 1995, the International Date Line. Kiribati's 33 atolls, with a total area of only 811 km², are scattered over an area of 3.5 million km². Kiribati saw some of the worst fighting of the Pacific theatre during the Second World War, including the infamous Battle of Tarawa in November 1943.

Kiribati is most emphatically not another Tahiti, Hawaii, etc. where you can go to relax and have nothing to worry about. It has few visitors, and they have to be prepared to "rough it." That said, there aren't many countries where the people are more friendly.

South Tarawa is one of the most densely populated, severely poverty-stricken places in the world. Other islands have far fewer people, but getting to them can be difficult, and conditions are even more primitive. Most tourists, especially from the USA, go to Kiritimati (Christmas Island). It received some attention on January 1, 2000 as the first location in the world to experience the new millennium. Conditions there are somewhat better than in the rest of Kiribati.

Regions

Except for the isolated Banaba (Ocean Island - 6 km², pop.~300), all the main islands are in one of three groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, and the Phoenix Islands.

Gilbert Islands

The Gilbert Islands are all in the UTC+12 time zone.

  • Abaiang - 18 km², pop.~5502 - has at least one hotel and a couple of guest houses
  • Abemama - 27 km², pop.~3400
  • Aranuka - 12 km², pop.~1200
  • Arorae - 9 km², pop.~1300
  • Beru - 18 km², pop.~2200
  • Butaritari - 13 km², pop.~3300
  • Kuria - 16 km², pop.~1100
  • Maiana - 17 km², pop.~2000
  • Marakei - 14 km², pop.~2800
  • Nikunau - 19 km², pop.~2000
  • Nonouti - 20 km², pop.~3200
  • Onotoa - 16 km², pop.~1700
  • Tabiteuea (Tabiteuea North - 26 km², pop.~3600 & Tabiteuea South - 12 km², pop.~1298)
  • Tamana - 5 km², pop.~ 900 - the smallest of the Gilbert Islands (too small to construct an airstrip)
  • Tarawa (Tarawa North - 15 km², pop.~5700 & Tarawa South - 16 km², pop.~40000+) - Tarawa South is the location of Kiribati's capital
Map of Kiribati
Map of Kiribati

Eight of the eleven Line Islands atolls belong to Kiribati and are in the UTC+14 time zone, the easternmost zone currently in use anywhere in the world, making them the first places on Earth to start each new calendar day. The other three (all uninhabited) are U.S. dependencies.

Northern Line Islands

  • Kiritimati (Christmas Island) - pop.~5000
  • Tabuaeran (Fanning Island) - pop.~2500
  • Teraina (Washington Island) - pop.~1000

The Northern Line Islands also include Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef which are U.S. dependencies.

The Central Line Islands and Southern Line Islands are all uninhabited.

Phoenix Islands and the Phoenix Island Protected Area

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area is the worlds largest Marine Protected Area. This isolated location has a vast array of undisturbed and pristine eco-systems. The coral reefs and bird populations are virtually untouched by man. At the time of writting the areas had been nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are hopefull of this being awarded in 2010. The area covers 410 500 sq km of the Central Pacific.

The main island is this region is Kanton Island (Abariringa). While the island has the services of an airstrip and wharf this small number of people are government workers in caretaker mode.

Such is the isolation of the island that it is seldom visited and this is limited to sailing yachts and charters. The government supply ship visits a number of times a year. Immigration is possible on the island for those arriving by sea.

Other islands in the area include Orona, Enderbury, Nikumaroro, Birnie, Manra, McKean and Rawaki. These atolls are the tops of the Seamounts (or seas mountains) which are a feature of the marine protected area.

For more information on the Phoneix Island Protected Area visit [2].

Understand

History

Kiribati was inhabited for 2000 years prior to European contact. Under British colonial rule, it was known as the Gilbert Islands. Kiribati was granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and complete independence in 1979. The US relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix and Line Island groups in a 1979 treaty of friendship with Kiribati. The name "Kiribati" is pronounced "Kiri-bass", which is the closest local equivalent to "Gilberts".

The Phoenix and Line Islands were generally held to be on the east side of the International Date Line and are in different time zones from the Gilbert Islands group, but on 1 January 1995, Kiribati proclaimed that all of its territory was on the same calendar day (skipping 31 December 1994 in those island groups), effectively extending the Date Line further eastward to accommodate this. This makes the Line Islands the farthest "ahead" of any territory on the planet.

In 1995 Kiribati suspended diplomatic relations with France to protest the latter's decision to resume nuclear testing on Muraroa Atoll. In 1999 the government claimed that two atolls had been lost due to sea level rise and subsequently, in 2002, joined with Tuvalu and the Maldives to take legal action against the US for refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

The presence of gun emplacements and ship wrecks from WWII battles on South Tarawa makes shipwreck diving a common tourist activity.

Climate

Whoever coined the phrase, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity" may have had Kiribati in mind. Actually, the average high temperatures are quite reasonable compared to other well-known places in the tropics (such as Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, etc.). But the humidity more than makes up for this, making it feel very sauna-like. The wet season varies, but is usually December to March, give or take a month. Severe drought also occurs at times.

Get in

Visa Requirements

Nationals and citizens of the following countries are exempted from obtaining a visa before entering Kiribati where the intended duration of their stay is 30 days or less: Belize, Federated States of Micronesia, Macao (only in respect of holders of Macao Special Adminisirative Region Passports), Marshall Islands, Palau, Republic of China (Taiwan), Republic of (South) Korea.

Nationals and citizens of the following countries specified are exempted from obtaining a visa before entering Kiribati:

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Greece, Hong Kong (only in respect of holders of British Nationals Overseas passports and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports), Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Bahamas, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United Kingdom Overseas Territories of (Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands), United States of America, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

There are honorary consulates in Rose Bay (near Sydney), NSW, Australia; Honolulu, Hawaii; Suva, Fiji; Hamburg, Germany; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, Korea; Auckland, New Zealand; and London, United Kingdom. Also, visas may be obtained by writing the Principal Immigration Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, P.O. Box 68, Bairiki, Tarawa, KIRIBATI (Central Pacific). Caution: Do not apply directly to Tarawa within a couple months or so of your departure date, or when you need your passport elsewhere. Usually, it's best to inquire at the nearest consulate abroad. There's no requirement that you be a resident of the same country that the consulate is located in.

By plane

If through tickets are too expensive, get to Fiji anyway you can and go from there. On the other hand, if you've got thousands to spend and extra time, see how a Round the world fare on Oneworld or Star Alliance compares with the fare to Tarawa, and include this on your itinerary.

Air Pacific [3] has two weekly non-stop flights (3 hrs) from Nadi, Fiji with connections from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and the United States including Honolulu (with codeshares on American Airlines, and possibly other ONEWORLD members). If using another airline to get to Fiji, be certain it lands in Nadi and not Suva (unless you're staying a while and can get to other side of the island).

Our Airline and Air Kiribati Services [4] (formerly Air Nauru) fly to Tarawa every Saturday from Brisbane (via Honiara in the Solomon Islands and Nauru).

Air Kiribati and then travels onto Nadi in Fiji (code sharing with Our Airline). The flight returns to Tarawa on Monday from Fiji, and then continues onto Brisbane via Nauru and Honiara.

This new service provides an improved access to Tarawa and other Pacific Nations. For bookings contact Our Airline (www.ourairline.com.au or airkiribati.com.au)

Get around

Domestic Flights and Airlines in Kiribati Air Kiribati has two turboprop aircraft for inter-island travel. Flights travel to all Outer Islands in the Gilbert group regularly.

A new domestic carrier has also been set up recently Coral Sun Airways. Coral Sun offers a scheduling alternative to Air Kiribati and can also be chartered for private use.

Reliability of internal flights in Kiribati is improving all the time and fares are relatively cheap. It is important to reconfirm your return flight on arrival at your destination. Each airline has different booking and confirmation conditions, you need to ensure you are familar with these to ensure a hassle free trip.

Talk

English is the offical language of Kiribati along with the native I-Kiribati. While english is used heavily in South Tarawa the further away from the capital you go the stronger the I-Kiribati tounge. Most people on Kiritimati Island have some English

Buy

South Tarawa ATM's are located in Betio, Bairiki and Bikenebeu. There is also one located at the hospital. There is also a foreign exchange office at the Airport. ANZ operators in Kiribati.

Most shops will only accept cash and credit cards are used little with the exception of the 2 hotels.

Outer Gilbert Islands Cash only is used on the Outer Islands and banking services are not available.

Kiritimati Island An ATM and bank are both available on Kiritimati Island. The branch is located in London.

Most shops and stores will only accept cash. Credit cards are not widely used.

Eat

The variety of food on Kiribati is extremely limited. If a shipment of imported food has just come in, buy it now, as it won't last long!

The staple diet of the I-Kiribati is fish and rice and this is reflected in many of the eating outlets on Tarawa. It is always worthwhile trying the local sashimi which is stright from the ocean to your plate.

Western style meals are best found at the two hotels Marys and the Otintaai.

There is also a variety of Chinese restaurants.

Sleep

The range of accommodation in Kiribati varies depending on which part of the country you are in.

South Tarawa The two main hotels are Marys Motel and the government owned Otintaai Hotel. Both offer motel style accommodation each with a restaurant and air-conditioning. They are located at different ends of South Tarawa and the decision on where to stay is usually made based on your activities while you are in South Tarawa.

There are also a variety of other smaller properties scattered throughout South Tarawa. A full listing including a map showing locations can be found on the Kiribati National Tourism Offices web site [5]

These hotels can get very busy throughout the year so it is advisable to book ahead.

North Tarawa A visit to North Tarawa is the easiest and most convenient way to experience village life in Kiribati. North Tarawa offers a number of guesthouses and traditional style accommodation.

Tabon te Keekee is the closest option, offering traditional Kiribati accommodation in an I-Kiribati family environment. Located at Abatao it is only 10-15 minutes north of the airport.

Biketawa Islet, run by the Otintaai Hotel, offers traditional kia kia accommodation. Run in a similar fashion to a retreat meals and sleeping equipment can be arranged, along with boat transfers.

A council guesthouse is located at Abaokoro.

Gilbert Island Group and Council Guesthouses The Outer Islands are the essence of Kiribati and not enough people make the time and effort to visit these remote islands. Each has a distinctive culture and story to tell of its history.

Each of the outer islands of the Gilbert Group have, at the least, a council guesthouse. Standards vary across the group however they are usual a mix of the local style houses known as Kia Kia’s and a open style guest rooms. Each guesthouse usually has a communal living area where meals are served and the cost is approximately $30 AUD per night including 3 meals a day.

The facilities available vary from island to island, however they are located in isolated communities and expectations should be altered accordingly. Electricity will usually be supplied in the evening and throughout the night. Food will mainly be based on the local fare and it is recommended that you take anything additional you may need. It is also recommended that fresh drinking water is taken. Most guesthouses are perfectly located on the beach or causeway and a lovely spot to stay easy for swimming and exploring.

These guesthouses are run by the Island Councils and it is one of the very few ways the council earn revenue. Each council will normally have a truck and driver that you will be able to hire to help you discover the island. Alternatively many of the locals will be keen to hire out the motorcycles and scooters to you.

For more information on the Outer Islands – get a copy of the fact sheets from [6]

Kiritimati Island This world renowned bone fishing destination has a variety of fishing lodges, guesthouses, and motels to choose from. Accommodation is usually booked in 7 night packages and each lodge will have the services of a fishing guide to assist you in your expeditions. For a full list of accommodation options visit www.kiribatitourism.gov.ki.

The lodges are geared around fishermen and schedule meals and activities around your fishing day. Meals are usually included in the price.

For a full list of accommodation options visit [7]

Work

With very high unemployment, it is unlikely that foreigners will be allowed any work unless they have needed skills not otherwise available. Aid agencies are active in Kiribati and undertake a range of volunteer and contracting programs.

Stay safe

Kiribati is generally a safe place to travel. However, it may be risky to be outside after dark in Beito or along the beach in South Tarawa, especially for single females. However, virtually all problems are caused by drunk males, not career criminals.

Normal common sense applies when moving around.

Some care should be taken on the roads as the traffic can include pigs, children, dogs and buses all fighting for road space.

Stay healthy

Don't drink the water without boiling or filtering. Chemical treatment is not recommended as it may not prevent giardiasis . The lagoon (especially around Beito) is heavily contaminated, and may make the entire island segment smell bad at times. Always ask first before going out in the water at each location on South Tarawa -- no matter how inviting it looks. This is a good idea on other islands too. Get a hepatitis A shot, and be up-to-date on all your other vaccinations, preferably several weeks beforehand. Mosquitos can be very bad at times, so use repellent. Be sure to bring your own insect repellent and sunscreen, as these are not available locally. Don't expect any needed medications to be available either. (Some are, but you never know what is or when.)

There's no malaria, but dengue fever outbreaks (mosquito transmitted) do sometimes occur. The fish caught locally may give you food poisoning (ciguatera ), so be extra careful. Ciguatera is not preventable by cooking or freezing the fish. Promptly treat even the smallest cut, sore, or insect bite, as these can become infected very easily.

Medical evacuation insurance is highly recommended for Kiribati. Many outer islands have no airstrip, making any sort of evacuation long and difficult.

Contact

Contact the Kiribati National Tourism Office in the following ways:-

Website: www.kiribatitourism.gov.ki E-Mail: info@kiribatitourism.gov.ki

Facebook: Kiribati Tourism

Phone: (+686) 25573 and ask for the Tourism Office. (Please note that English is not the first language for most of the staff in the office).

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Singular
Kiribati

Plural
-

Kiribati

  1. Country in Oceania. Official name: Republic of Kiribati.
  2. The Micronesian language spoken in Kiribati, also known as Gilbertese.

Translations

See also

External links


Czech

Proper noun

Kiribati n.

  1. Kiribati

Estonian

Wikipedia-logo.png
Estonian Wikipedia has an article on:
Kiribati

Wikipedia et

Proper noun

Kiribati

  1. Kiribati (country)
  2. Kiribati (islands)

Finnish

Wikipedia-logo.png
Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Kiribati

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

Kiribati

  1. Kiribati

Declension

Derived terms

  • kiribatilainen

German

Wikipedia-logo.png
German Wikipedia has an article on:
Kiribati

Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Kiribati n.

  1. Kiribati

Italian

Wikipedia-logo.png
Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Kiribati

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Kiribati f. pl.

  1. Kiribati

See also

  • gilbertino

Norwegian

Proper noun

Kiribati

  1. Kiribati

Related terms


Polish

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /kʲiriˈbati/

Proper noun

Kiribati n. (undeclinable)

  1. Kiribati

Derived terms

  • adjective: kiribatyjski

Swedish

Proper noun

Kiribati

  1. Kiribati

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