Kiribati Facts

Kiribati Facts and History


Kiribati is an island nation scattered across the Pacific, consisting of three archipelagos with a total of 33 atolls. Despite its small land mass of around 811 km², the state is spread over a total of 3.5 million km² of water in the Pacific. The largest coral atoll in the world is located here. Unfortunately, atomic bomb tests were also carried out there. The islands are scattered around the equator. The 180th degree of longitude with the date line runs through the archipelago, but the date line has been shifted so that it now runs around the islands. The remoteness of the islands allowed the islanders, the I-Kiribati, to keep their traditional way of life – then as now. The villages mostly consist of huts that are covered with palm leaves and meeting houses called maneaba. Kiribati consists of the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands, and the Line Islands. Most of the latter islands are uninhabited. The main island of the small island state with the capital is Tawara.

Kiribati is particularly suffering from climate change as, for example, more and more fresh water is starting to become too saline and more and more major floods are occurring

Name of the country Republic of Kiribati
Form of government Parliamentary republic
Geographical location Kiribati is located in the Pacific and east of Australia.
National anthem Teirake Kaini Kiribati
National holiday July 12 (Independence Day of Great Britain 1979)
Population Approx. 103,000 (Credit: Countryaah: Kiribati Population)
Ethnicities 98% Kiribat (Micronesians)2% Polynesians and Europeans
Religions Catholics 55%Protestants 36% (see Christianity)

Mormons 3.1%

Baha’i 2.2%

Others 3.7%

Languages Kiribati and English
Capital Bairiki in South Tarawa County (on Tarawa Atoll)
Surface 811 km²
Highest mountain 81 m high elevation on the island of Banaba
Lakes Only on Christmas Island there are several smaller lakes.
International license plate AI
Currency Australian dollar, AUD
Time difference to CET + 13 h
International phone code 00686
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .ki

Kiribati: history

Kiribati until around the year 1000

The first settlers, Micronesians, came to Kiribati from the Carolina and Marshall Islands probably 3,000 years ago.

Kiribati from the year 1,000 to the 17th century

According to Abbreviationfinder website, in the 14th century, Polynesians invaded from Tonga and Fiji.

The first European to see the islands was the Spanish navigator Hernando de Grijalva in 1537.

Kiribati in the 18th and 19th centuries

The British Commodore John Bryon set foot on the island of Nikunau in 1765.

In the course of the following years the remaining islands were explored by whalers and British merchant ships. The Gilbert Islands came under the command of the British High Commissioner for the Western Pacific.

In 1892 the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, the latter now part of Tuvalu, were declared a British protectorate.

20th century until today

The geologist Albert Ellis discovered rich phosphate deposits on the island of Banaba in 1900. A year later, the British incorporated the islands into their protectorate. In the same year, 1901, Tarawa was declared the capital, but in 1908 it was moved to the island of Banaba.

The protectorate was converted into a colony in 1916, to which the Union Islands, today’s Tokelau, were added. The Christmas Islands followed in 1919 and the Phoenix Islands in 1937.

In the years 1941-1943, the Japanese and Americans fought fierce battles on the islands in the course of World War II. The Americans gained the upper hand.

In the 1960s, an independence movement formed like in other island states in the Pacific. The first House of Representatives was elected in 1967 and the first Parliament in 1974. On October 1, 1978, the Ellice Islands declared themselves independent and called themselves Tuvalu. In 2000 Tuvalu became a member of the Commonwealth and the 189th member of the United Nations.

On July 12, 1979, Kiribati declared itself independent.

In the same year, the international date line was moved so that it no longer runs through the middle of the island nation.

In 1981, Kiribati received several million in compensation for the exploitation of raw materials.

Kiribati has been a member of the United Nations since September 15, 1999.


In the 19th century whaling was intensely practiced in the waters of Kiribati. During World War II, many battles took place in what is now the state. Today’s economy is subsistence economy and is limited to fishing and copra production, a raw material that is used in the food industry.

Kiribati Facts