Kiribati Visitors Bureau
PO Box 510, Betio
Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati
Tel: (686) 26158, Fax: (686) 26233

Physical geography

Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is a chain of small coral atolls set in a large expanse of the central Pacific Ocean, between 173º and 177º East Longitude and 4 North and 3 South Latitude. From North to South with a distance of nearly 300km, and 3,218km distance east to west. The islands are divided into three different groups known as the Gilberts group which consist of 17 inhabited islands and the Line and Phoenix islands which were uninhabited until after the Second World War. The Phoenix and Line islands comprise eight islands.


Temperature varies between 25°C and 33°C with 63 per cent of the annual possible sunshine of 4,135 hours. The wet season extends from December to May and rainfall variation is high in most of the islands. A gentle breeze from the easterly quarter is predominant. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Living on small lying atolls with poor soils our people have traditionally depended on the seas for their subsistence. With the possible exception of the more developed Tarawa (main Capital City), the islands have a generally underexploited variety of marine species. <P>The proclamation of the nation's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 1982 has resulted in sovereignty over an ocean area of over three million sq. kilometres. <P>The Kiribati economy is small and of slender resources. The subsistence sector accounts for around 15 per cent of GDP, while agriculture including subsistence average 30 per cent of the GDP. Apart from Copra and large quantities of tuna fish that are found around the islands, constraints of resources severely limit the potential of exports. The agricultural base is narrow, with copra - produced mainly on small family plots - being the only important cash crop. Commercial fishing is undertaken by the four-vessel fleet of the national fishing company. <P>However, the economy of the country is open, with heavy dependency on foreign trade. Exports are of two commodities only and this has important implication for the country's economic development. Copra has been plagued by sharp reductions in prices and also by drought. Fish exports hold greater potentials for future development and have provided an important sources of wages, employment, and food in the subsistence sector. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> The 1995 Census figures showed that the total population of Kiribati was 77,658. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> Modern history of Kiribati begins with the arrival of Micronesians from the South Pacific between 200 to 500 A.D. Legend tells that the God Nareau picked flowers from the ancestral tree and threw then to the North of Samoa to mark the place where the island of Tarawa, Beru and Tabiteuea appeared. Today, the islands combine with 30 others to form the independent Republic of Kiribati. Internal self-government was attained in two stages and it finally became fully independent Republic of Kiribati on 12 July 1979. Kiribati is made up of 33 low lying coral atolls. It is a sovereign, democratic state and has a 41-member Maneaba ni Maungatabu (House of Parliament), elected every four years. The Beretitenti (President) is elected from among three or four candidates nominated by the Maneaba from its ranks. The Beretitenti chooses a 12-member Cabinet from the Maneaba. The country is a member of the Commonwealth and adopts the Westminster model of government. In 1892 Kiribati became part of the British Protectorate of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands which became a colony in 1916. It was legally separated from Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu) on 1 October, 1975, following overwhelming support for separation in a referendum held the previous year. <P>A visit to the republic is like returning to the Pacific as it was half a century ago. Here, in the most unspoiled corner of Micronesia, sailing canoes have yet to be replaced by outboards and tourist are extremely rare. The traditional culture and lifestyle of the people have remained largely unchanged for centuries. The people are friendly, embarrassingly bold and inquisitive and very hospitable. They are fun-loving, easy going, somewhat languorous and renowned dancers. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Language spoken by nationals</H3> On the capital Tarawa, English is widely understood but less so on the outer islands. Kiribati is the main language. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religion</H3> There are three main religions in Kiribati, namely Christianity, the Bahai Faith and the Muslim. The Kiribati Protestant Church and the Roman Catholic Church are the two major denomination of Christianity. Other Christian groups include the Church of God of North Carolina, the Mormon Church and Seventh-Day-Adventist. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Kiribati is 12 hours ahead of GMT. That is two hours ahead of Tokyo and 22 hours ahead of Honolulu, on the other side of the international dateline. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency </H3> All notes credit cards, visas cards are accepted. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices closed) </H3> 5-8 April, Easter Holiday - Christianity is predominant in Kiribati with its main denominations being the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the Seven Day Adventist, the Church of Latter Day Saints and others. 18 April, Health Day - a very special occasion when the Central Hospital in Tarawa is open to the public. 11 July - National Churches Day - day in which the two major churches, Catholic and Protestant hold a combined service. July 1214 Independence Day- This is the most significant day in Kiribati featuring a colourful parade at Bairiki Sports Ground on South Tarawa and a speech from the President, followed by various field events such as wrestling tournament, soccer match, volleyball, canoe races and other traditional games. 5 August, Youth Day - A public holiday in which young people and the community at large join hands in celebrating the importance useful of young people as a future resource, leaders and citizens of Kiribati. 10 December, Human Rights - Most people will find time to pursue their hobbies during this one-day holiday. However, it will be the churches which will have some form of activities. 25 December - Christmas Day - The commemoration of the birthday of Jesus Christ observed especially by the two major denominations, namely the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see </H3> Apart from some old church buildings (built during the early 1900s) on the outer islands, no other historic building exist. More recent history is very apparent on some islands of Kiribati. The islands role in the Second World War is evident in the Battle of Tarawa, during which thousands of American and Japanese lives were lost. The islet of Betio, where the above battle took place, offers a wealth of war history and many relics. Abemama islands located in the Central Gilberts group, is an important historic site being the first island on which the Union Jack was hoisted in 1892 by Captain EHM Davis of HMS <I>Royalist</I>. It was also on this island that the famed Robert Louis Stevenson was resident in 1889. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring</H3> There are no seasonal climate changes in Kiribati. The climate is steady warm in the day and cool in the night time. But the most pleasant time is from June to November. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> Dress is normally very casual. The tropical climate and simple lifestyle of the islanders encourage cool, cotton, loosely fitting shirts and shorts for men. Women should not go out in shorts or short dresses especially on the outer islands. Bathing costumes for men and women should be modest not bikinis. A limited quantity of clothing and footwear is available but visitors are advised to bring most of what they may require. Attractive cotton materials are widely available. This makes good lavalava, loose wrap-around garments which are widely worn by both men and women. Popular amongst local women is the 'Tibuta' a locally sewn blouse with short gathered sleeves and neckline. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Diving and snorkelling are possible but visitors are advised to bring their own equipment. To prevent coral cuts sand shoes should be worn when walking on the reef. A favourite swimming area in Tarawa is the lagoon and Ocean sides. A boat, however, is required to get there and the Kiribati Visitors Bureau can assist with this. <P>Facilities for the following holidays sports in Kiribati are available; sailing, squash, tennis, fishing and other water sports. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <H3>What to eat and drink</H3> The local restaurants features a set of menus, with emphasis on fish and tropical foods and European/Chinese Cuisine. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <H3>What to buy</H3> A wide range of T-shirts with Kiribati designs are available at Nanotasi Co-op store. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <H3>Frontier formalities </H3> <H3>Passports and visas</H3> All visitors to Kiribati must be in possession of a valid passport and onward air ticket and must have proof of sufficient funds to support themselves while staying in the country. Visas is required, except for Nationals of Kiribati and of the following countries coming to stay for a maximum of 28 days; Antigua, Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Samoa (Western), San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Spain, St-Kitts Nevis, St. Lucia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, (not Northern Iceland), Uruguay, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe. <H3>Health regulations</H3> Yellow fever vaccination is required for visitors from infected areas. <H3>Customs</H3> Firearms, ammunition, explosives and in-decent publication are prohibited imports. Strict quarantine have govern the import of plants, or parts of plant e.g. fruits, tubers. seeds. cutting plants products, vegetable matter of soil, clay or earth, animal and/or animal products. <P>Imports: Free imports are as follows: 200 cigarette or 225gms of tobacco or cigars, One bottle of spirit and one bottle of wine each not exceeding one litre (only for person of 21 years and over) Duty free, but to be declared on arrival, one pair of binoculars, one still camera and six rolls of unexposed film, portable radio, broadcast receiver, one portable tape recorder, one portable typewriter, and reasonable quantity of sports equipment. <P>The Australian dollar is the legal currency of Kiribati. Travellers cheques and all major currencies are accepted by the Bank and may also be exchanged for local currency at some local hotels. Credit cards such as Master Card and Visa are also accepted. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> The most convenient way to go to Kiribati by Air with frequent scheduled services now available from Nadi in Fiji, Majuro in the Marshall Islands and Nauru. <P>Air Marshall connects Kiribati with its international routes three times a week from Majuro in the Marshall Islands via Tarawa and three times a week from Nadi and Suva in Fiji. <P>Air Nauru operates twice a week from Nauru arriving Tarawa on Tuesday and Thursday. <P>The National airline of Kiribati, Air Kiribati provide Trislander and Casa inter-island plane connections several times a week to most of the islands. <P>Charter flights can be arranged. For full details contact Air Kiribati on (686) 21227. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Overseas representatives </H3> Australia: Mr William Franken, Honorary Consul, General 33 Dover Road, Rose Bay NSW 2029, Fax: (02) 3710248, Tel: (02) 3717808 <P>United Kingdom: Honorary Consul, Faith House, 7 Tufton St, London SW1P 3QN, U.K, Fax: 0171 976 7180, Tel: 0171 222 6952 <P>Germany: Mr Frank Leonhard, Honorary Consul, Kiribati, Honorary Consulate, Rodingsmark, 1620459 Hamburg, Germany, Tel: (040) 36146112 Fax: (040) 36146123 <P>Japan: Mr T Kuribayashi, Honorary Consul ,Room 684, Marunouchi Building, 2-4-1 Manuonouchi Chiyada-Ku, Tokyo Tel: 03 (32013487 <P>New Zealand: Mr Raymond Mann, Honorary Consul, Gladstone Road, Noreheote, PO Box 40205, Gledfield, Auckland, Fax: (649) 4191414 Tel: (649) 419 0404 <P>South Korea: Mr In Hung Chung, Honorary Consul, Halla Building 891-44 Dacchi-Dong Kand Nam-ku Seoul Korea, Yong-Dong, PO Box 650, Seoul, Fax: (02) 5591699 or (02) 5591 799 <P>Hawaii: Mr William Paupe, Honorary Consul, 850 Richard Street, Suite 503, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, Fax: (808) 521 8304, Tel: (808) 521 17703 <H3>Diplomatic missions and consulates (resident in Kiribati) </H3> British Aid Management Office, PO Box 61 Bairiki, Tarawa Republic of Kiribati, Tel: (686) 21327, Fax: (686) 21488 <P>Australian High Commissioner, PO Box 77 Bairiki, Tarawa Republic of Kiribati, Tel: (686) 21184, Fax: (686) 21440 <P>New Zealand High Commissioner, H.E. Mr Brian Marshall, PO Box 53 Bairiki Tarawa Tel: (686) 21 400, Fax: (686) 21402 <P>Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China, HE Mr Wang Shaohua, PO Box 30 Bairiki, Tarawa, Tel: (686) 21486, Fax: (686) 21 110 <P> <IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Kiribati thanks to the co-operation and the participation of the Kiribati Visitors Bureau. <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>