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Flag of Kiribati
Map of Kiribati
Introduction Kiribati
The Gilbert Islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and complete independence in 1979 under the new name of Kiribati. The US relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix and Line Island groups in a 1979 treaty of friendship with Kiribati.
Geography Kiribati
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 (GMT +12) even though the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands under its jurisdiction lie on the other side of the International Date Line
Geographic coordinates:
1 25 N, 173 00 E
Map references:
total: 811 sq km
note: includes three island groups - Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands
water: 0 sq km
land: 811 sq km
Area - comparative:
four times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,143 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds
mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Banaba 81 m
Natural resources:
phosphate (production discontinued in 1979)
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 50.68%
other: 49.32% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low level of some of the islands make them very sensitive to changes in sea level
Environment - current issues:
heavy pollution in lagoon of south Tarawa atoll due to heavy migration mixed with traditional practices such as lagoon latrines and open-pit dumping; ground water at risk
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
21 of the 33 islands are inhabited; Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Makatea in French Polynesia, and Nauru
People Kiribati
98,549 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.7% (male 19,839; female 19,333)
15-64 years: 57% (male 27,705; female 28,438)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 1,385; female 1,849) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.7 years
male: 19.3 years
female: 20.2 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.26% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
31.24 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
8.63 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 51.26 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 45.82 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 56.45 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 60.93 years
male: 57.97 years
female: 64.03 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.28 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: I-Kiribati (singular and plural)
adjective: I-Kiribati
Ethnic groups:
predominantly Micronesian with some Polynesian
Roman Catholic 52%, Protestant (Congregational) 40%, some Seventh-Day Adventist, Muslim, Baha'i, Latter-day Saints, and Church of God (1999)
I-Kiribati, English (official)
definition: NA
total population: NA%
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Kiribati
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Kiribati
conventional short form: Kiribati
former: Gilbert Islands
note: pronounced keer-ree-bahss
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
3 units; Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands; note - in addition, there are 6 districts (Banaba, Central Gilberts, Line Islands, Northern Gilberts, Southern Gilberts, Tarawa) and 21 island councils - one for each of the inhabited islands (Abaiang, Abemama, Aranuka, Arorae, Banaba, Beru, Butaritari, Kanton, Kiritimati, Kuria, Maiana, Makin, Marakei, Nikunau, Nonouti, Onotoa, Tabiteuea, Tabuaeran, Tamana, Tarawa, Teraina)
12 July 1979 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 12 July (1979)
12 July 1979
Legal system:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Anote TONG (since 10 July 2003); Vice President NA; note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
elections: the House of Parliament chooses the presidential candidates from among their members and then those candidates compete in a general election; president is elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 4 July 2003 (next to be held not later than July 2007); vice president appointed by the president
election results: Anote TONG 47.4%, Harry TONG 43.5%, Banuera BERINA 9.1%
cabinet: 12-member Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the House of Parliament
head of government: President Anote TONG (since 10 July 2003); Vice President NA; note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch:
unicameral House of Parliament or Maneaba Ni Maungatabu (42 seats; 39 elected by popular vote, one ex officio member - the attorney general, one appointed to represent Banaba, and one other; members serve four-year terms)
elections: first round elections last held 29 November 2002; second round elections held 6 December 2002 (next to be held by November 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - BTK 17, MTM 16, independents 7, other 2 (includes attorney general)
note: new legislative elections were held in two rounds - the first round on 9 May 2003 and the second round on 14 May 2003
Judicial branch:
Court of Appeal; High Court; 26 Magistrates' courts; judges at all levels are appointed by the president
Political parties and leaders:
Boutokaan Te Koaua Party or BTK [Taberannang TIMEON]; Maneaban Te Mauri Party or MTM [Teburoro TITO]; Maurin Kiribati Pati or MKP [leader NA]; National Progressive Party or NPP [Dr. Harry TONG]
note: there is no tradition of formally organized political parties in Kiribati; they more closely resemble factions or interest groups because they have no party headquarters, formal platforms, or party structures
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Kiribati does not have an embassy in the US; there is an honorary consulate in Honolulu
Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Kiribati; the ambassador to the Marshall Islands is accredited to Kiribati
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
Economy Kiribati
Economy - overview:
A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence from the UK in 1979. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. 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. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of GDP. The financial sector is at an early stage of development as is the expansion of private sector initiatives. Foreign financial aid from UK, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China is a critical supplement to GDP, equal to 25%-50% of GDP in recent years. Remittances from workers abroad account for more than $5 million each year.
purchasing power parity - $79 million - supplemented by a nearly equal amount from external sources (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $800 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 30%
industry: 7%
services: 63% (1998 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
7,870 economically active, not including subsistence farmers
Unemployment rate:
2%; underemployment 70% (1992 est.)
revenues: $28.4 million
expenditures: $37.2 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
fishing, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate:
0.7% (1991 est.)
Electricity - production:
7 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
6.51 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
190 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
copra, taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, vegetables; fish
$6 million f.o.b. (1998)
Exports - commodities:
copra 62%, coconuts, seaweed, fish
Exports - partners:
Japan 56.7%, Thailand 16.6%, South Korea 16.3% (2002)
$44 million c.i.f. (1999)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, miscellaneous manufactured goods, fuel
Imports - partners:
France 28.7%, Australia 26.3%, Fiji 12.5%, Japan 9.5%, Latvia 5.4%, US 4.6%, New Zealand 4% (2002)
Debt - external:
$10 million (1999 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$15.5 million largely from UK and Japan (1995)
Australian dollar (AUD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.84 (2002), 1.93 (2001), 1.72 (2000), 1.55 (1999), 1.59 (1998)
Fiscal year:
Communications Kiribati
Telephones - main lines in use:
3,800 (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
note: Kiribati is being linked to the Pacific Ocean Cooperative Telecommunications Network, which should improve telephone service
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 1
note: the shortwave station may be inactive (2002)
17,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (not reported to be active) (2002)
1,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
1,000 (2000)
Transportation Kiribati
0 km
total: 670 km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km (1999 est.)
5 km (small network of canals in Line Islands)
Ports and harbors:
Banaba, Betio, English Harbour, Kanton
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) 1,291 GRT/1,295 DWT
ships by type: passenger/cargo 1 (2002 est.)
20 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 4 (2002)
Military Kiribati
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Police Force (carries out law enforcement functions and paramilitary duties; small police posts are on all islands)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Military - note:
Kiribati does not have military forces; defense assistance is provided by Australia and NZ
Transnational Issues Kiribati
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003