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Kiribati (pronounced kee-ree-bass), an island nation in the South Pacific, consists of 33 islands dispersed over more than 3,500,000 km2 of ocean. Situated along the equator and divided by the 180th meridian, Kiribati is divided into three archipelagos: the Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands, in that order from west to east. Banaba, the easternmost of Kiribati's islands, is much different than the other 32.

All of Kiribati's islands are coral atolls, meaning they are nearly completely flat and have lagoons. Banaba is a raised island with elevation as high as 80 meters, whereas atolls typically have an elevation of no more than a few meters. For three quarters of a century, when Kiribati was still a British colony, Ocean Island, as the British referred to Banaba, was mined for guano to be used as fertilizer.

In 1979, when the guano reserves were exhausted, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony became two separate nations: Kiribati and Tuvalu. Kiribati soon added the mostly-uninhabited Phoenix and Line island groups to its atoll portfolio. Of the 33 islands, 22 are inhabited, with the remaining set aside as wildlife sanctuaries.

Republic of Kiribati
Map of the Republic of Kiribati

Gilbert Islands (Tungaru)
Island nameArea in km2Population
Abaiang 28 5,502
Abemama 23 3,404
Aranuka 15.5 1,158
Arorae 26 1,256
Banaba (Ocean Island) 6.5 301
Beru 21 2,169
Butaritari 11.7 3,280
Kuria 12.7 1,082
Maiana 27 1,908
Makin 5.4 2,385
Marakei 10 2,741
Nikunau 18 1,912
Nonouti 25 3,179
Onotoa 13.5 1,644
Tabiteuea 38 4,898
Tamana 5.2 875
Tarawa 31 45,989
317.5 83,683

Line Islands
Island nameArea in km2Population
Caroline Island 3.8 0
Flint Island 3.2 0
Kiritimati (Christmas Island) 321 5,115
Malden Island 39.3 0
Starbuck Island 16.2 0
Tabuaeran(Fanning Island) 33.7 2,539
Teraina (Washington Island) 7.4 1,155
Vostok Island 0.2 0

Phoenix Islands
Island name Area in km2 Population
Abariringa (Canton Island) 9.1 28
Birnie Island 0.2 0
Enderbury Island 5.1 0
Manra Island (Sydney Island) 4.4 0
McKean Island 0.6 0
Nikumaroro (Gardner Island) 4.1 0
Orona (Hull Island) 3.9 0
Rawaki (Phoenix Island) 0.5 0
27.9 28

Area in km2 Population
773.8 92,520

Differing statistics and predictions
Source Area in km2 Population
CIA World Factbook 811 110,356 (July 2008 estimate)
United Nations 726 92,533 (July 2005)


With the exception of Canton Island, all population figures come from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The SPC is an international organization that provides assistance, training and other services to most Pacific Island nations, including Kiribati. The census was done in 2005. The population of Canton Island is 28 according to an August 2008 visitor.

Area figures come from the United Nations Environment Programme. Most areas were measured between 1988-1990.

The map is inspired by one created by the United States Department of Commerce.

Further reading

Title Author Publisher Other ISBN
Tungaru Traditions Sir Arthur Francis Grimble University of Hawaii Press edited by: H.E. Maude 0824812174
Kiribati: Aspects of History Sister Alaima Talu & 24 others University of the South Pacific Institute of Pacific Studies Gilbertese title: Taraan Karakin Kiribati 9820200512
Jarvis Island