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Kiribati: groups of atolls along the Equator

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The Kiribati Islands (Republic of Kiribati) are a republic associated with the British Commonwealth, made up of three different archipelagos that straddle the equator line.

This includes the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands or Equatorial Islands. It consists of a total of 32 atolls and a raised coral island (Banaba) scattered on over 3 and a half million square kilometers of ocean.

The capital of the republic is the village of Bairiki in the Tarawa atoll in the Gilbert islands. This atoll is home to around 40% of the population of the Kiribati Islands. The Gilbert islands are located between the Marshall islands to the north, Nauru to the west and the Tuvalu islands to the south, they are composed of 16 islands, the largest of which are those of Abemama (27.8 sq km), Nonouti (29.2 sq km ), Tabiteuea (38 sq km) and Tarawa (31.9 sq km). The majority of the nation’s population resides in the Gilbert Islands.


The Phoenix islands – which are made up of 8 islands of which only the Kanton island is inhabited, and 2 coral reefs – are located about 1,000 km south-east of the Gilbert islands, 300 km north of Tokelau and about 3,000 km south of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Line Islands or Equatorial Islands – which consist of 8 islands including the island of Kiritimati (or Christmas island) which is the largest atoll on Earth (388 sq km (which become 642 sq km considering the lagoon)), of which only 3 inhabited (Fanning, Kiritimati, and Washington) – are located approximately 3,000 km east of the Gilbert Islands, and approximately 2,000 km south of Hawaii and 500 km north of the Society Islands.

The highest point of the whole archipelago of the Kiribati Islands, 81 meters, is located on the raised coral atoll of Banaba, in the past rich in phosphate deposits, but now exhausted. The economy of the islands is based on the income from fishing rights. While agriculture is mostly limited to the collection of copra and taro. Recently the islands have become a transit place for tourist cruises from the Hawaiian islands.

The page of the Kiribati government.

  • 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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