Kiribati facts on every entity in the world

The Gilbert Islands became a British protectorate in 1892 and a colony in 1915; they were captured by the Japanese in the Pacific War in 1941. The islands of Makin and Tarawa were the sites of major US amphibious victories over entrenched Japanese garrisons in 1943. 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.



Oceania, group of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the Equator; the capital Tarawa is about halfway between Hawaii and Australia

Geographic coordinates

1.25° N, 173.00° E

Area 187/257

total: 811 sq km

land: 811 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: includes three island groups - Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, and Phoenix Islands - dispersed over about 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mi)

Area - comparative

four times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


1,143 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


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


mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed elevation on Banaba 81 m

Natural resources

phosphate (production discontinued in 1979), coconuts (copra), fish

Land use

agricultural land: 42%

arable land 2.5%; permanent crops 39.5%; permanent pasture 0%

forest: 15%

other: 43% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low level of some of the islands make them 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, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling

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; Kiribati is the only country in the world to fall into all four hemispheres (northern, southern, eastern, and western)

People and Society


noun: I-Kiribati (singular and plural)

adjective: I-Kiribati

Ethnic groups

I-Kiribati 89.5%, I-Kiribati/mixed 9.7%, Tuvaluan 0.1%, other 0.8% (2010 est.)


I-Kiribati, English (official)


Roman Catholic 55.8%, Kempsville Presbyterian Church 33.5%, Mormon 4.7%, Baha'i 2.3%, Seventh Day Adventist 2%, other 1.5%, none 0.2%, unspecified 0.05% (2010 est.)

Population 193/238

105,711 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.77% (male 16,582/female 15,950)

15-24 years: 21.28% (male 11,202/female 11,296)

25-54 years: 38.23% (male 19,446/female 20,965)

55-64 years: 5.66% (male 2,706/female 3,281)

65 years and over: 4.05% (male 1,689/female 2,594) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 63%

youth dependency ratio: 57%

elderly dependency ratio: 6%

potential support ratio: 16.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 23.9 years

male: 23.1 years

female: 24.8 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 105/233

1.15% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 75/224

21.46 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 127/225

7.12 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 179/222

-2.87 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 44.3% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.78% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

TARAWA (capital) 46,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.83 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.65 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth


note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2009 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 155/184

90 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 62/224

total: 34.26 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 35.48 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 32.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 174/224

total population: 65.81 years

male: 63.36 years

female: 68.39 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 79/224

2.48 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

22.3% (2009)

Health expenditures 17/191

10.1% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.38 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source


urban: 87.3% of population

rural: 50.6% of population

total: 66.9% of population


urban: 12.7% of population

rural: 49.4% of population

total: 33.1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 51.2% of population

rural: 30.6% of population

total: 39.7% of population


urban: 48.8% of population

rural: 69.4% of population

total: 60.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate 8/191

40.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 48/138

14.9% (2009)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years

male: 12 years

female: 13 years (2008)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 61.8%

male: 47.6%

female: 54% (2010 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Kiribati

conventional short form: Kiribati

local long form: Republic of Kiribati

local short form: Kiribati

note: pronounced keer-ree-bahss

former: Gilbert Islands

etymology: the name is the local pronounciation of "Gilberts," the former designation of the islands; originally named after explorer Thomas GILBERT, who mapped many of the islands in 1788

Government type



name: Tarawa

geographic coordinates: 1.21° N, 173.02° E

time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

note: on 1 January 1995, Kiribati proclaimed that all of its territory was in the same time zone as its Gilbert Islands group (UTC +12) even though the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands under its jurisdiction were on the other side of the International Date Line

Administrative divisions

3 geographical units: Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands; note - there are no first-order administrative divisions but 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 the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 12 July (1979)


The Gilbert and Ellice Islands Order in Council 1915, The Gilbert Islands Order in Council 1975 (preindependence); latest promulgated 12 July 1979 (at independence); amended several times, last in 2013 (2015)

Legal system

English common law supplemented by customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a native-born citizen of Kiribati

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Anote TONG (since 10 July 2003); Vice President Teima ONORIO (since 2003); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Anote TONG (since 10 July 2003); Vice President Teima ONORIO (since 2003)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among House of Assembly members

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote following nomination of candidates from among House of Assembly members; term is 4 years (eligible for 2 additional terms); election last held on 13 January 2012 (next to be held in 2015); vice president appointed by the president

election results: Anote TONG TONG elected president; percent of vote - Anote TONG (BTK) 42.2%, Tetaua TAITAI (KTK) 35%, Rimeta BENIAMINA (MKP) 22.8%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly or Maneaba Ni Maungatabu (46 seats; 44 members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two-rounds, 1 member appointed by the Rabi Council of Leaders - representing Banaba Island, and 1 ex officio member - the attorney general; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: legislative elections were held in two rounds - the first on 21 October 2011 and the second on 28 October 2011 (next to be held in 2015)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA, other 2 (includes attorney general)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): High Court (consists of a chief justice and other judges as prescribed by the president); note - the High Court has jurisdiction on constitutional issues

judge selection and term of office: chief justice appointed by the president on the advice of the cabinet in consultation with the Public Service Commission (PSC); other judges appointed by the president on the advice of the chief justice along with the PSC

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Boutokaan Te Koaua Party or BTK [Anote TONG]

Kamaeuraoan Te I-Kiribati Party or KTK [Tetaua TAITAI]

Maurin Kiribati Pati or MKP [Rimeta BENIAMINA]

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

International organization participation


Flag description

the upper half is red with a yellow frigatebird flying over a yellow rising sun, and the lower half is blue with three horizontal wavy white stripes to represent the Pacific ocean; the white stripes represent the three island groups - the Gilbert, Line, and Phoenix Islands; the 17 rays of the sun represent the 16 Gilbert Islands and Banaba (formerly Ocean Island); the frigatebird symbolizes authority and freedom

National symbol(s)

frigatebird; national colors: red, white, blue, yellow

National anthem

name: "Teirake kaini Kiribati" (Stand Up, Kiribati)

lyrics/music: Urium Tamuera IOTEBA

note: adopted 1979


Economy - overview

A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources and is one of the least developed Pacific Island countries. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. The public sector dominates economic activity, with ongoing capital projects in infrastructure including the road rehabilitation, water and sanitation projects, and renovations to the international airport, spurring some growth. Earnings from fishing licenses and seafarer remittances are important sources of income. In 2013, the International Monetary Fund estimated that fishing licenses revenues contributed close to half of government’s total revenue and total remittances from seafarers were equivalent to 6% of GDP. However, remittances and the number of seafarers employed have declined since the global crisis. Kiribati is dependent on foreign aid, which was estimated to have contributed over 43% in 2013 to the government’s finances. The country’s sovereign fund, the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund (RERF), which is held offshore, had an estimated balance of $668 million in 2013, equivalent to 381% of GDP. The RERF seeks to avoid exchange rate risk by holding investments in more than 20 currencies, including the Australian dollar, United States dollar, the Japanese yen and the Euro. Drawdowns from the RERF helped finance the government’s annual budget.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 222/230

$169.8 million (2015 est.)

$166.8 million (2014 est.)

$163.9 million (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$164 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 149/225

1.8% (2015 est.)

1.8% (2014 est.)

1.8% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 199/230

$2,200 (2015 est.)

$2,200 (2014 est.)

$1,600 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 26.3%

industry: 9.2%

services: 64.5% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

copra, breadfruit, fish


fishing, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate 143/202

1.1% (2012 est.)

Labor force 198/233


note: economically active, not including subsistence farmers (2010 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 15%

industry: 10%

services: 75% (2010)

Unemployment rate 189/207

30.6% (2010 est.)

6.1% (2005)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $197.9 million

expenditures: $179.9 million (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 3/219

120.7% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 3/220

11% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt 168/176

8.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

8% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year


Inflation rate (consumer prices) 82/226

1.4% (2015 est.)

2.1% (2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance 60/197

-$41 million (2015 est.)

$7 million (2014 est.)

Exports 197/224

$84.75 million (2013 est.)

$62.31 million (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities

fish, coconut products

Imports 207/223

$182.2 million (2013 est.)

$172.5 million (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, machinery and equipment, miscellaneous manufactured goods, fuel

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$8.37 million (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external 199/206

$13.6 million (2013 est.)

$14.1 million (2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -

1.33 (2015 est.)

1.11 (2014 est.)

0.97 (2013 est.)

0.97 (2012 est.)

0.97 (2011 est.)

note:: the Australian dollar circulates as legal tender


Electricity - production 212/220

26 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 212/219

24.18 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 157/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 167/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 212/214

5,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 15/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 121/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 180/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 188/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 153/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 147/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 209/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 152/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 197/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 209/212

400 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 192/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 206/213

420.4 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 207/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 160/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 128/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 89/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 156/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 208/212

58,450 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 200/219

total subscriptions: 9,200

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 211/217

total: 18,100

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: generally good quality national and international service

domestic: wireline service available on Tarawa and Kiritimati (Christmas Island); connections to outer islands by HF/VHF radiotelephone; wireless service available in Tarawa since 1999

international: country code - 686; Kiribati is being linked to the Pacific Ocean Cooperative Telecommunications Network, which should improve telephone service; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2010)

Broadcast media

1 TV broadcast station that provides about 1 hour of local programming Monday-Friday; multi-channel TV packages provide access to Australian and US stations; 1 government-operated radio station broadcasts on AM, FM, and shortwave (2009)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 1 (may be inactive) (2002)

Television broadcast stations

1 (possibly inactive) (2002)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 188/232

327 (2012)

Internet users 204/217

total: 12,200

percent of population: 11.7% (2014 est.)


Airports 138/236

19 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 15

914 to 1,523 m: 10

under 914 m: 5 (2013)

Roadways 191/223

total: 670 km (2011)

Waterways 107/107

5 km (small network of canals in Line Islands) (2012)

Merchant marine 59/156

total: 77

by type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 35, chemical tanker 6, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 12, refrigerated cargo 15

foreign-owned: 43 (China 26, Hong Kong 2, Russia 1, Singapore 9, South Korea 1, Taiwan 2, Vietnam 2) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Betio (Tarawa Atoll), Canton Island, English Harbor

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces (establishment prevented by the constitution); Police Force (2011)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international