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(kĭr'ĭbăs`), officially Republic of Kiribati (2015 est. pop. 112,000), 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. It includes 8 of the 11 Line IslandsLine Islands
or Equatorial Islands,
coral group, 43 sq mi (111 sq km), central and S Pacific. Once valuable for their guano deposits, the islands now have coconut groves, airfields, and meteorological stations.
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, including KiritimatiKiritimati
, largest atoll in the Pacific (1990 pop. 2,537), 222 sq mi (575 sq km), in the Line Islands, one of the island groups that compose the Republic of Kiribati. It was previously called Christmas Island when it made up part of the former British colony of the Gilbert and
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 (formerly Christmas Island), as well as the GilbertGilbert Islands,
group of 16 islands, central Pacific, one of the island groups that form the Republic of Kiribati. The group includes Tarawa, Butaritari, Makin, Little Makin, Marakei, Abaiang, Maiana, Abemama, Kuria, and Aranuka in the north; Nonouti and Tabiteuea in the
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 and PhoenixPhoenix Islands,
group of eight islands, 11 sq mi (28 sq km), central Pacific, N of Samoa. The chain comprises a portion of Kiribati. The two most important are Kanton (or Abariringa) and Enderbury Island.
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 groups and 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
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 (formerly Ocean Island). TarawaTarawa
, atoll (1990 pop. 28,802), capital of Kiribati, central Pacific, previously capital of the former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The administrative center of the atoll is Bairiki island.
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 is the capital. The population is nearly all Micronesian, with about half concentrated on S Tarawa. English is the official language, and Kiribati, a Micronesian language, is also spoken. Some 50% of the inhabitants are Roman Catholic, while 40% are Protestant.

Fishing and the growing of coconuts, taro, breadfruit, and sweet potatoes form the basis of the mainly subsistence economy. The mining of Banaba's once thick phosphate deposits ended in 1979. Copra, coconuts, seaweed, and fish are the chief exports; foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, manufactured goods, and fuel are imported. Australia, Japan, Fiji, and the Unites States are the main trading partners.

A member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the nation is a republic governed under the constitution of 1979. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a four-year term and is eligible for two more terms. The unicameral House of Parliament has 42 members, most elected by popular vote, who serve four-year terms. Administratively the country is divided into three units (the Gilbert, Line, and Phoenix islands), and subdivided into six districts. There are also 21 island councils, one for each of the inhabited islands.


The islands were settled beginning more than two millenia ago by successive waves of migrants from Southeast Asia, Tonga, and Fiji. The first Europeans to sight the islands were the Spanish (1606). In the late 1800s many islanders were often taken against their will to work abroad. The islands were administered (1892–1916) with the Ellice Islands as a British protectorate that became (1916) the British Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony. They gained self-rule in 1971, and, after the Ellice Islands gained (1978) independence as TuvaluTuvalu
, independent Commonwealth nation (2015 est. pop. 11,000), 10 sq mi (26 sq km), composed of nine low coral atolls, formerly known as the Ellice (or Lagoon) Islands, scattered over the W Pacific Ocean. The capital is the atoll of Funafuti.
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, the remaining islands were granted independence (1979) as Kiribati. U.S. claims to several islands, including KantonKanton
, coral atoll, 3.5 sq mi (9 sq km), central Pacific, largest of the Phoenix Islands, which comprise part of Kiribati, c.2,000 mi (3,220 km) SE of Honolulu, Hawaii. Annexed by the British at the end of the 19th cent., the island was also claimed by American guano companies.
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 (formerly Canton) and Enderbury, were abandoned in 1979. Overcrowding has been a problem, and in 1988 it was announced that 4,700 residents of the main island group would be resettled onto less populated islands. In 1994 Teburovo Tito was elected president. In 1995, Kiribati moved the international date line to the eastern border of the sprawling island nation so that it would no longer be divided by the date line. Tito was reelected in 1998 and 2003, but in Mar., 2003, he was removed from office by a no-confidence vote, and replaced by a Council of State. Anote Tong was elected to succeed Tito in July, 2003, and was reelected in 2007 and 2012. In Mar., 2016, Taneti Maamau was elected president; he was reelected in 2020.

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Official name: Republic of Kiribati

Capital city: Tarawa

Internet country code: .ki

 Flag description: The upper half is red with a yellow frigate bird flying over a yellow rising sun, and the lower half is blue with three horizontal wavy white stripes to represent the ocean

Geographical description: Oceania, group of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the Equator; the capital Tarawa is about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Aus­tralia; note - on 1 January 1995, Kiribati proclaimed that all of its territory lies in the same time zone as its Gilbert Islands group (UTC +12) even though the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands under its jurisdiction lie on the other side of the International Date Line

Total area: 266 sq. mi. (719 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds

Nationality: noun: I-Kiribati (singular and plural, pro­nounced ee-keer-ah-bhass); adjective: I-Kiribati

Population: 107,817 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Micronesian 98.8%, other 1.2%

Languages spoken: English (official), Gilbertese/I-Kiribati

Religions: Roman Catholic 52%, Protestant (Congregation­al) 40%, other (includes Seventh-Day Adventist, Muslim, Baha’i, Latter-day Saints, Church of God) 8%

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Gospel DayJul 9
Health DayApr 21
Human Rights DayDec 8
Independence DayJul 12
New Year's DayJan 1
Teacher's DayOct 6
Unaine DayJul 8
Uniwaine DayJul 7
Women's DayMar 10
Youth DayAug 11
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


an independent republic in the W Pacific: comprises 33 islands including Banaba (Ocean Island), the Gilbert and Phoenix Islands, and eight of the Line Islands; part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands until 1975; became self-governing in 1977 and gained full independence in 1979 as the Republic of Kiribati; a member of the Commonwealth. Official languages: English, I-Kiribati (Gilbertese) is widely spoken. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: Australian dollar. Capital: Bairiki islet, in Tarawa atoll. Pop.: 88 000 (2003 est.). Area: 684 sq. km (264 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Shaikh Khalid affirmed that this move comes within the framework of Bahrain's openness to the world and its keen desire to strengthen cooperation ties with all countries of the world for common interests, expressing hope that bilateral relations with the Republic of Kiribati will soon witness a boost in all fields for the benefit of both countries and peoples.
The EU's financial contribution is set at 1.325 million, of which 350,000 earmarked exclusively for sectoral policy support to help the Republic of Kiribati promote responsible and sustainable fishing in its waters.
"Waste from the Republic of Kiribati was tested before it was transported to the UK to ensure it could be disposed of in the most appropriate manner," he said.
All NCL Hawaii itineraries visit the four main Hawaiian Islands--Oahu (Honolulu), The Big Island of Hawaii (Kona and/or Hilo), Maui (Lahaina), and Kauai (Nawiliwili or Port Allen)--and include a stop at Fanning Island, NCL's Pacific hideaway, a remote island in the Republic of Kiribati.
Micronesia is an ethno-geographical grouping of over 2000 islands spread out over 7,000,000 square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean and includes the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam, an unincorporated U.S.
"I've just gotten a subscription from the postmaster of the Republic of Kiribati, which World War II veterans will remember as Tarawa.
These went to coffee buyers mainly in countries or islands in the Asia-Pacific region, namely Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, South Korea, Fiji Islands, Solomon Islands, Caroline Islands, Western Samoa, Republic of Kiribati and Hong Kong.
Balsley chose Christmas Island in the Republic of Kiribati because it lies in the equatorial belt where rains are rare and the wind is steady.
This was followed by a video message from President Anote Tong of Republic of Kiribati in the South Pacific.
Of those, 1454 were within New Zealand, the balance (102) being sent overseas to Australia, Brunei, Canada, England, Ireland, Finland, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, East Timor, the Republic of Kiribati, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Niue, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu and the USA.
With most of the world's fisheries at or nearing collapse, it is my hope that --rather than tear down a potential solution before we have the chance to build it up--we in the conservation and science communities will offer our encouragement and support for the commitment being shown by the Republic of Kiribati and its visionary leader President Anote Tong.

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