Kiribati Travel Information

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Photos of Kiribati

Facts About Kiribati

Background: The Gilbert Islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and complete independence in 1979 under the new name of Kiribati (pronounced "keer-ih-bahs"). The US relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix and Line Island groups in a 1979 treaty of friendship with Kiribati.
Government type: republic
Capital: Tarawa
Currency: 1 Australian dollar ($A) = 100 cents

Geography of Kiribati

Location: Oceania, group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia; note - on 1 January 1995, Kiribati unilaterally moved the International Date Line from the middle of the country to include its easternmost islands and make it the same day throughout the country.
Geographic coordinates: 1 25 N, 173 00 E
total: 717 sq km
land: 717 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes three island groups - Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,143 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds
Terrain: mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Banaba 81 m
Most of the land is less than two meters above sea level. A 1989 United Nations report identified Kiribati as one of the countries that would completely disappear in the 21st century if steps were not taken to address global climate change. In mid-1999 it was announced that two uninhabited coral reefs had sunk beneath the sea.
Natural resources: phosphate (production discontinued in 1979)
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 51%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 3%
other: 46% (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low-level of some of the islands make them very sensitive to sea-level rise
Environment - current issues: heavy pollution in lagoon of south Tarawa atoll due to heavy migration mixed with traditional practices such as lagoon latrines and open-pit dumping; ground water at risk
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: 20 of the 33 islands are inhabited; Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Makatea in French Polynesia, and Nauru.

People of Kiribati

Population: 103,092 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  40.53%
15-64 years:  56.27%
65 years and over:  3.2%
Population growth rate: 2.31% 
Owing to the population growth rate and the overcrowding around the capital, a program of migration was begun in 1989 to move nearly 5,000 inhabitants to outlying atolls, mainly in the Line Islands. A further program of resettlement to the Phoenix Islands was begun in 1995.
Birth rate: 31.98 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 8.88 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 54 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  60.16 years
male:  57.25 years
female:  63.22 years 
Total fertility rate: 4.36 children born/woman 
noun: I-Kiribati (singular and plural)
adjective: I-Kiribati
Ethnic groups: Micronesian
Religions: Roman Catholic 54%, Protestant (Congregational) 30%, some Seventh-Day Adventist, Baha'i, Latter-day Saints, and Church of God (1996)
Languages: English (official), Gilbertese

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Kiribati > Map Economy History