Kiribati is an independent nation that is located in the Pacific. It is comprised of 33 atolls, the majority of which are uninhabited.
The capital of Kiribati is South Tarawa. South Tarawa lies on the southern portion of the Tarawa atoll. South Tarawa actually consists of a string of villages, from Bonriki and Tanaea on the eastern side of the atoll to Betio on the western side. The population of South Tarawa is approximately 50,000 people, and is one of the most densely populated places on earth.
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Historians are not certain when Kiribati was originally inhabited by people, though estimates typically range from 3000 - 2000 BC. These earliest peoples were likely Micronesian explorers from Southeast Asia / Indonesia. Another migration from Samoa occurred approximately 500 years ago.
The first European explorers to locate the area were from Spain, and arrived in the late 1500s and early 1600s. English explorers arrived soon after. On Christmas Eve, 1777, Captain James Cook landed on an uninhabited atoll in Kiribati, which would later become known as Kiritimati. In 1788, British sailor Thomas Gilbert mapped Kiribati and in 1820, the atoll group was named the Gilbert Islands.
In 1892, the Gilbert Islands became a British Protectorate and in 1912, they became an official British Colony. They remained so through World War II and in 1979 they gained their independence from Britain. The island nation was then renamed Kiribati - the local pronunciation of the word "Gilberts".
When Kiribati gained its independence on July 12, 1979, it became a republic with an executive, legislative and judicial branch. Ieremia Tabai was elected the first president of the new nation, and remained so until 1991. The current president is Taneti Maamau.
Kiribati's islands have few land mammals, but they do support a variety of plant life. In total, 140 species of native plants and over 500 introduced species live on Kiribati. Palm, coconut, and breadfruit trees are Kiribati's most numerous and commercially valuable plants. Seaweed, which grows in lagoons and offshore, is the dominant aquatic plant. Approximately 75 types of migratory birds comprise Kiribati's avian population. Roughly 200 varieties of coral form Kiribati's coral reefs, which are inhabited by 800 species of fish and over 1,000 different shellfish.
Kiribati's economy is developing. Most of its economic revenue comes from fishing and farming, which employ over 80 percent of the population. Flying fish, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna are the most valuable species for commercial fishing. Kiribati's main cash crops are watermelon, cucumber, tomato, pumpkin, and cabbage, and its coconut tree farms enable copra production. The country also derives some revenue from tourism, which attracts about 4,450 visitors each year for diving, sport fishing, and bird-watching. Kiribati's economy is also stimulated by financial aid from the European Union, the World Health Organization, and individual countries.
Frequently Asked Questions
What languages are spoken in Kiribati?
The official languages of Kiribati are Gilbertese and Kiribati, while the primary languages spoken are Gilbertese and English.
What is the climate like?
The country's dry season, which runs from April through October, brings mild sunny days. Wind, rain, and sometimes powerful cyclones prevail from November through March, which is the wet season. The average annual high is 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average low is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Because Kiribati's atolls lie on both sides of the equator, they have distinct climates. The northernmost islands receive about 120 inches of rain annually, while the southern islands average just 20 inches.
What currencies are commonly accepted?
Currencies accepted at various places within Kiribati could include the Kiribati Dollar ($), the Australian Dollar ($), US Dollars and Euros.
What is the population of Kiribati?
The population is approximately 115,000.
What is the capital?
The capital of Kiribati is located on the atoll of Tarawa.
What time is it in Tarawa?