[Country map of Kiribati]



Location: Oceania, group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator and the International Date Line, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia

Map references: Oceania

total area: 717 sq km
land area: 717 sq km
comparative area: slightly more than four times the size of Washington, DC
note: includes three island groups - Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,143 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

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

Terrain: mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs

Natural resources: phosphate (production discontinued in 1979)

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 51%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 3%
other: 46%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: NA
natural hazards: typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Climate Change

Note: 20 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


Population: 79,386 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Population growth rate: 1.95% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 31.25 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 12.31 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 98.4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 54.16 years
male: 52.56 years
female: 55.78 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.73 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: I-Kiribati (singular and plural)
adjective: I-Kiribati

Ethnic divisions: Micronesian

Religions: Roman Catholic 52.6%, Protestant (Congregational) 40.9%, Seventh-Day Adventist, Baha'i, Church of God, Mormon 6% (1985)

Languages: English (official), Gilbertese

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: 7,870 economically active, not including subsistence farmers (1985 est.)


conventional long form: Republic of Kiribati
conventional short form: Kiribati
former: Gilbert Islands

Digraph: KR

Type: republic

Capital: Tarawa

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 (Abaiang, Abemama, Aranuka, Arorae, Banaba, Beru, Butaritari, Kanton, Kiritimati, Kuria, Maiana, Makin, Marakei, Nikunau, Nonouti, Onotoa, Tabiteuea, Tabuaeran, Tamana, Tarawa, Teraina; note - one council for each of the inhabited islands)

Independence: 12 July 1979 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day, 12 July (1979)

Constitution: 12 July 1979

Legal system: NA

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President (Beretitenti) Teburoro TITO (since 1 October 1994); Vice President (Kauoman-ni-Beretitenti) Tewareka TENTOA (since 12 October 1994); election last held on 30 September 1994 (next to be held by NA 1999)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the president from an elected parliament

Legislative branch: unicameral
House of Assembly (Maneaba Ni Maungatabu): elections last held on 22 July 1994 (next to be held by NA 1999); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (40 total; 39 elected) Maneaban Te Mauri 13, National Progressive Party 7, independents 19

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal, High Court

Political parties and leaders: National Progressive Party, Teatao TEANNAKI; Christian Democratic Party, Teburoro TITO; New Movement Party, leader NA; Liberal Party, Tewareka TENTOA; Maneaba Party, Roniti TEIWAKI; Maneaban Te Mauri, leader NA
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


Diplomatic representation in US: Kiribati has no mission in the US

US diplomatic representation: the ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Kiribati

Flag: 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


Overview: A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few national resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence in 1979. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. The economy has fluctuated widely in recent years. Real GDP declined about 5% in 1987, as the fish catch fell sharply to only one-fourth the level of 1986 and copra production was hampered by repeated rains. Output rebounded strongly in 1988, with real GDP growing by 10%. The upturn in economic growth came from an increase in copra production and a good fish catch. GDP then fell by 2.2% in 1989 and by 2.9% in 1990, but has risen by about 3% annually in 1991-93. Foreign financial aid, largely from the UK and Japan, is a critical supplement to GDP, amounting to 25%-50% of GDP in recent years.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $62 million (1993 est.)

National product real growth rate: 2.9% (1993 est.)

National product per capita: $800 (1993 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.5% (1993 est.)

Unemployment rate: 2%; underemployment 70% (1992 est.)

revenues: $29.6 million
expenditures: $32.8 million, including capital expenditures of $14 million (1993 est.)

Exports: $4.2 million (f.o.b., 1992 est.)
commodities: copra 50%, seaweed 16%, fish 15%
partners: Denmark, Fiji, US

Imports: $33.1 million (c.i.f., 1992 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, miscellaneous manufactured goods, fuel
partners: Australia 40%, Japan 18%, Fiji 17%, NZ 6%, US 4% (1991)

External debt: $2 million (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 0.7% (1992 est.); accounts for less than 4% of GDP

capacity: 5,000 kW
production: 13 million kWh
consumption per capita: 131 kWh (1993)

Industries: fishing, handicrafts

Agriculture: accounts for 23% of GDP (including fishing); copra and fish contribute about 65% to exports; subsistence farming predominates; food crops - taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, vegetables; not self-sufficient in food

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $273 million

Currency: 1 Australian dollar ($A) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Australian dollars ($A) per US$1 - 1.3058 (January 1995), 1.3667 (1994), 1.4704 (1993), 1.3600 (1992), 1.2835 (1991), 1.2799 (1990)

Fiscal year: NA


Railroads: 0 km

total: 640 km
paved: NA
unpaved: NA

Inland waterways: small network of canals, totaling 5 km, in Line Islands

Ports: Banaba, Betio, English Harbor, Kanton

Merchant marine:
total: 1 passenger-cargo ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,291 GRT/1,295 DWT

total: 21
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 5
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 11


Telephone system: 1,400 telephones
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 INTELSAT (Pacific Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 0
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Police Force (carries out law enforcement functions and paramilitary duties; there are small police posts on all islands); no military force is maintained

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP