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South Tarawa, Kiribati. Author Government of Kiribati. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
South Tarawa, Kiribati. Author Government of Kiribati

Kiribati: groups of atolls along the Equator

Kiribati Islands (Republic of Kiribati), are a republic associated with the British Commonwealth. The republic made up of three archipelagoes, which are located over the line of the equator, the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands, this is a total of 32 atolls and a raised coral island (Banaba) scattered over 3,500,000 sq km of ocean. The capital is Bairiki, in Tarawa Island in the Gilbert Islands, which hosts about 40% of the population of the country.

Gilbert Islands are located between the Marshall Islands to the north, Nauru to the west and Tuvalu to the south, they are made up of 16 islands (Abaiang, Abemama (27.8 sq km), Aranuka, Arorae, Banaba, Beru, Butaritari, Kuria, Maiana, Marakei, Nikunau, Nonouti (29.2 sq km), Onotoa, Tabiteuea (38 sq km), Tamana, and Tarawa (31.9 sq km)) the Gilberts are the islands where reside most of the population of the nation.

Butaritari, Kiribati. Author VevGuy4101. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

Butaritari, Kiribati. Author VevGuy4101

Phoenix Islands, are formed from 8 islands (Birnie, Canton (or Abariringa, 9.8 sq km), Enderbury, Manra (or Sydney), McKean, Nikumaroro (or Gardner), Orona (or Hull), Rawaki (or Phoenix)), of which only inhabited 2, and 2 coral banks (Winslow Reef and Carondelet Reef), they are located about 1,000 km south-east of the Gilbert Islands, 300 km north of Tokelau and about 3,000 km south of Hawaii islands.

Line Islands, consist of 8 islands (Caroline, Flint, Kiritimati (or Christmas Island, the largest atoll on Earth (388 sq km (642 sq km considering the lagoon), 5,100 inhabitants)), Malden (39 sq km), Starbuck (21 sq km), Tabuaeran (or Fanning, 33 sq km, 2500 inhabitants), Teraina (or Washington, 14 sq km, 1150 inhabitants), Vostok), which only three islands inhabited (Fanning, Kiritimati, and Washington ), located approximately 3,000 km east of the Gilbert Islands, and about 2,000 km south of Hawaii and 500 km north of the Society Islands in French Polynesia.

The highest point of the whole archipelago, 81 meters, is located in the raised coral island of Banaba, in the past it had rich deposits of phosphates, but now they are exhausted. The economy of the islands is based on the income of fishing rights, agriculture is limited, for the most part, the collection of copra and taro. Recently, the islands have become transit place for tourist cruises from Hawaii islands.

  • Area: 849 sqkm. (Arable 51%, Pastures 0%, Forests and Woodlands3%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 46%)
  • Population: 105,000 (2005 data) (Micronesians 99%).
  • State Capital: Bairiki (Tarawa).
  • Languages: Official languages are English and Gilbertese.
  • Religion: Christian 97% (Catholic 52%, Congregationalist 40%, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon), Baha’i 3%.
  • Currency: Kiribati Dollar, Australian Dollar (AUD).
  • Time: UTC +12 hours.

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