Tabuaeran is one of 32 atolls that form the Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the South Pacific. It is on the northern side of the Line Islands, an archipelago of atolls at the eastern edge of the Republic.
Tabuaeran covers 13 square miles, and it has a population of about 2,539. It is a popular stopping point for cruise ships sailing to and from Hawaii, which is approximately 900 miles (1,400km) directly north.
Today, there are eight separate villages on the atoll. Its main export is coconut, and handmade products like wooden carved spoons and sharks' teeth are sold to tourists. The local population survives on pigs, chicken, coconut, imported rice, and meats.
Historians believe that the atoll was once a stopover point for the Polynesians who first settled Hawaii. Historical relics and artifacts have been uncovered by historians who believe that the inaugural human population was comprised of people from Tonga and the Cook Islands.
The first Europeans did not arrive until the late 1700s. In 1798, a famous American explorer and trader named Edmund Fanning reported finding the atoll while a captain on the ship Betsy. It was then founded by Fanning, which is how the atoll acquired its American name Fanning Atoll.
Tabuaeran was later established as a home to the British, who started the first coconut plantations in 1850. It was annexed by Great Britain in 1888 and historically has been used for commercial coconut production, which still forms the economy's backbone today. The atoll was renamed “Tabuaeran” in 1979 when the atoll joined Kiribati and Kiribati gained its independence.
Topography and Geology
Tabuaeran is comprised of a chain of islets that created around a large lagoon with a circumference of 32 miles. Like many of the atolls and islands in Kiribati, it is made of coral covered with scrub brush and various vegetation.
Overfishing has depleted many of Tabuaeran's indigenous fish and shellfish populations, which include tropical fish and reef fish, but there are still quite a few sharks in the waters surrounding the island. Unlike many atolls in Kiribati, little remains of Tabuaeran's native plant and animal life, and its lands and waters have been repurposed to support introduced species. The climate of Tabuaeran is tropical, with a distinct drier season and rainy season that brings steady, heavy rainfall and winds.
The majority of the Line Islands are uninhabited and dangerous to attempt travel to alone. Tabuaeran is somewhat of an exception as the island is often visited by tourists via Norwegian Cruise Line, and has a few facilities and resources available. Phone service and electricity is still unavailable however, so serious precautions must be taken by anyone planning on attempting to travel there alone. Tabuarean can be accessed by air, utilizing Air Kiribati's Line Islands route from Kiritimati - Tabuaeran - Teraina.