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Tarawa(tərä`wə, tăr`əwä), atoll (1990 pop. 28,802), capital of KiribatiKiribati
, officially Republic of Kiribati (2005 est. pop. 103,000), 342 sq mi (886 sq km), consisting of 33 islands scattered across 2,400 mi (3,860 km) of the Pacific Ocean near the equator.
..... Click the link for more information. , central Pacific, previously capital of the former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The administrative center of the atoll is Bairiki island. Betio island, the chief commercial center of country, is a port of entry through which copra and pearl shell exported. Tarawa is the site of a teacher's training college and a marine training school, as well as an international airport. The population is mainly Micronesian.
During World War II the colony headquarters were moved there from BanabaBanaba
or Ocean Island,
island (1990 pop. 284), 2.2 sq mi (5.7 sq km), central Pacific, in the Republic of Kiribati, in the Gilbert Islands. The island was first visited by the British in 1804, was annexed in 1900, and from 1907 was the administrative capital of the
..... Click the link for more information. (formerly Ocean Island). Tarawa was occupied by the Japanese (1941–43) and fell to U.S. marines after a bloody battle. Since the early 1990s the southern part of the capital, particularly Betio, has become increasingly overcrowded, leading the government to resettle residents on less crowded islands.