OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Kiribati
CAPITAL: Bairiki on Tarawa Atoll
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Republic
AREA: 811 Sq Km (313 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 78,800
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: Kiribati is located in the mid-Pacific
Ocean. The country consists of 3 main island groups that
extend over 3870 km (2,405 mi) from Banaba in the west to
Kiritimati in the east and 2050 km (1,274 mi) from Teraina
in the north to Flint in the south. Additionally, the three
island groups cover an area of 3 million Sq Km (1.1 million
Sq Mi) with the Gilbert Island group consisting of 17 islands
or atolls located over the equator, with the Phoenix Island
group in the east consisting of 8 islands or atolls while
the Line Island group is located to the north and consists
of 8 islands or atolls, and contains the largest coral atoll
in the world, Christmas Island. All the islands are low-lying
coral atolls below 4 metres (13 feet) above sea level, except
for Banaba which rises to 87 metres (285 feet). There are
no rivers on any of the islands, although most enclose a
lagoon. Major Cities (pop. est.); urban Tarawa 25,200 (1990).
Land Use; forested 3%, agricultural-cultivated 51%, other
CLIMATE: Kiribati has a tropical maritime climate that is uniformly
hot and humid, tempered by sea breezes. From March to October the islands
experience the NW trade winds and from October to March westerly gales
and heavy rains prevail. Average annual precipitation varies from 3,000
mm (118 in) in the northern Line Islands to 1,500 mm (59 in) in the central
Gilbert Islands to 700 mm (28 in) in the southern Line Islands. Average
daily temperatures range between 28 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit)
and 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the I-Kiribati, who
are overwhelmingly Micronesian. Other minorities include Europeans and
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 48% of the population Roman
Catholic and 45% Protestant. Additionally, there are minorities groups
of Seven Day Adventists and Baha'i.
LANGUAGES: The official languages is English, although the national
language is I-Kiribati a Micronesian dialect.
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1990: The Gilbert and Ellice Islands
were annexed as British Crown Colonies in Nov. 1915. During WWII they were
occupied by the Japanese until they were expelled by the Allied Forces.
On Oct. 1, 1975 the Ellice Islands separated from the Gilbert Islands to
form a separate dependency called Tuvalu. On Jan. 1, 1977 self-government
was introduced with full independence granted on July, 12, 1979 as the
Republic of Kiribati with Ieremia Tabai as President. In 1983 the United
States ratified a Treaty of Friendship with Kiribati. Also in 1983 and
1987 President Tabai was re-elected.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Australian Dollar (Aud)
divided into 100 Cents.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $54,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $18,000,000 (1992). Imports; AUS $50,530,000 (1992). Exports;
AUS $6,513,000 (1992). Tourism Receipts: USD $1,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; AUS -$29,478,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 32,610
or 45.1% of total population (1990). Unemployed 2.8% (1990).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Australia,
New Zealand, Japan, the United States and Fiji.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Breadfruit, Coconuts, Copra, Fish,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Clothing, Fish Processing, Food Processing, Handicrafts,
MAIN EXPORTS: Copra, Fish, Processed Fish Products.