The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. The country's 33 islands are scattered over 3800 km around the equator. Its name is pronounced /kiribas/ and is a Micronesian transliteration of the former English name for the main group of islands, the Gilbert Islands.
|National motto: 'Maaka te atua, karinea te uea; mataku i te atua, fakamamalu ki te tupu (I-Kiribati[?]: Fear the God, respect the king)|
- % water
|Ranked 172nd |
- Total (2001)
|Independence||July 12, 1979|
|Time zone||UTC + 12|
|National anthem||Teirake Kaini Kiribati[?]|
In 1978, the Ellice Islands became independent as Tuvalu, followed by Kiribati in 1979. Following independence, the United States relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix and Line Island which became part of Kiribati territory.
The parliament of Kiribati, called Maneaba ni Maungatabu is elected every four years, and consists of 36 representatives. The president is both head of state and head of government, and is called Beretitenti.
Each of the 21 inhabited islands has a local councils which takes care of the daily affairs.
Kiribati is divided into 6 districts:
Kiribati consists of three archipelagos; the Gilbert Islands (16 islands), some 1500 km north of Fiji, the Phoenix Islands[?] (8 islands), some 1800 km southeast of the Gilberts and the Line Islands (9 islands), about 3300 km east of the Gilberts. The Line Islands also include Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll, but these are administered by the United States.
The islands are:
Most of the islands are atolls that hardly rise above sea level. The thin soil means little vegetation is present and agriculture is difficult.
The economy has fluctuated widely in recent years. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets.
While English is the official language, I-Kiribati[?], a Micronesian language, is widely spoken. Christianity is the major relgion in the country, although mixed with many practices of the indigenous religions.