COUNTRY PROFILE

The Country: Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) consists of 33 low lying coral atolls. It is sub-divided into three main groups known as the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix and the Line Islands.

 

Geographic Location: Kiribati is located in the Central Pacific between 173 and 177 East Longitude and 4 North and 3 South Latitude. From North to South is a distance of only 800 kilometres, however, the distance east to west is more than 3218 kolometres.

 

Time Zones: Kiribati is 12 hours ahead of GMT, that is, 2 hours ahead of Tokyo and 22 hours ahead of Honolulu, on the other side of the international date line.

 

Weather and Climate: Temperature varies between 25’ and 33’C and 50 to 63 per cent of annual possible sunshine of 4135 hours. The wet season extends from Decenber to May and rainfall variation is high in most of the islands. A gentle breeze from the easterly quarter is predominant.

 

A Brief History: Modern history of Kiribati begins with the arrival of Micronesians from the South Pacific shich took place between 200 to 500 AD. Tarawa was the scene of one of the fiercest engagements between the American and Japanese forces during the World War Two. Christmas Island was the base for early nuclear testing in the 1950s and is now a satellite tracking base as well as a thriving resort. Internal sef-government was attained in two stages until it finally became a fully independent Republic on 12 July 1979.

 

Dress: Dress is normally very casual. The tropical climate and simple lifestyle of the islanders encourage cool, cotton, loosely fitting shirts and shorts for men. We like to retain oru tradition and values and we would ask you to repect this. We would ask that women should not go out in shorts or short dresses especially on the outer islands. Bating costumes for men and women shoul be melest, not bikinis. Traditional clothes of the island are available in local shops. They have been designed for comfort and practicality and make a pleasant chang from suits and formal dressed. Attractive cotton material are widely available. These make good lavalava, loose wrap around garments popular among local women and men. A limited quantity of conventional clothing and footwear is available but visitors are advised to bring what they may require.

 

Government: Kiribati is a sovereign, democratic state and has a 42-member Maneaba ni Maungatabu (House of Parliament), elected every four years. The Beretitenti (President) is elected from among three or four candidates nominated bu the Maneaba from its ranks. The Beretitenti chooses a 12 – member cabinet from the Maneaba. The country is a member off the Commonwealth and adopts the Westminster model of government.

 

Economy: the country’s economy is predominantly subsistence, with copra, seaweed & fisheries the main source of foreign exhange earnings. Revenue from the licensing of foreign vessels in the Kiribati Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) contributes some $2-3 million per annum. Tourism plays a fairly modest role in the Gilbert but in the Northern Line Islands especially Christmas Island, tourism has a high priority.

 

Flora and Fauna: the coconut palm is the most common form of vegetation. Other vegetation includes pandanus, pawpaw and breadfruit. Fish are found in profusion in all the islands, especially in Christmas Island’s lagoon and ocean waters and include bonefish, trevally, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, grouper and sharks.

Milkfish are raised locally in natural ponds. Extensive populations of birdlife are found on Christmas Island and include shearwater, petrel, tropic birds, frigate birds, terns, noddys and the Christmas Island warbler which is found only on Christmas Island.

 

Population: the 1995 census figures showed that the population of Kiribati was 86,350.

Languages: the main language is I-Kiribati. On the capital Tarawa, English is widely understood but less so on the outer islands.

 

 

SCENIC ATTRACTIONS

Wildlife: Kiribati has wild life sanctuaries on Christmas Island and on most of the southern Line Islands. Extensive populations of birdlife are found on Christmas Island. For full details or enquiries for visit purposes, please write direct to the Development Officer, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Kiritimati Island, Fax: (686) 81316, Tel: (686) 81198.Wildlife Unit offers islets and Island bird watching tours. For resevation contact: Senior Warden Officer, Ministry of Line and Phoenix Development, Ronton, Kiritimati Island.Tel: (686) 81217 Fax: (686) 81278.

 

Cultural Centre: A new cultural centre at Bikenibeu, housing artfacts and other items of cultural and historic significance, is now in operation. Opening hours: 0800-1230, 1330-1615 from Mondays to Fridays only.

 

Historic Sites: Recent history is very apparent on some islands of Kiribati. The islands’ role in World War 11 is evident in the battle of Tarawa, during which thousands of American &Japanese lives were lost.The islet of Betio, where the above battle took place, offers a wealth of war history and many rilics. Abemama Island is an important historical site, being the first island at which the Union Jack was hoisted in 1892 by Captain Davis. It was also on this island that the famed Robert Louis Stevenson was resident in 1889.

 

Handicraft: Handicraft centres and shops located on South Tarawa and on Christmas Island provide a variety of local handicrafts for sale to visitors. Some of the handirafts such as the shark tooth sword, local fans, mat, trays, wood spears, and a lot more are available at these centres and shops.Itoiningaina Handicraft Centre Teaoraereke, Tel: (686) 21038RAK Handicraft Center, Tangintebu Tel: (686) 21132AMAK Handicraft Centre Bikenibeu, Tel:9686) 28517

 

Entertainment: We are renowned dancers and floor shows featuring such entertainment can be enjoyed during festival occasions or upon request, at village Maneaba (meeting house) or at the hotels. Nightspots have live bandto keep guests entertained.

 

Festivals and Events: Independence Day on July 12 is the most significant of Kiribati national celebrations. The main highlights of the day include a colourful parade at the Bairiki National Stadium and performance of traditional dancing and canoe racing. On Tarawa, celebrations usually take two days but on the outer islands they may take a week.

 

Sport and Recreation: There is a diving club in Betio and there is a diving resort in North Tarawa. Bottle and weight belts are supplied, but divers should bring their own regulators, masks and fins. Advance booking is essential because the amount of rental equipment is limited. To privent coral cuts sandshoes should be worn when walking on the reef. A favourite swimming area in Tarawa is on both sides of the Dai Nippon Causeway around the area closer to the channel or off the small islets of North Tarawa. Your hotel will advise you how to access local swimming spots. There is a 36 Norman Cross trimaran with sail and auxiliary power available for charter by the day or for longer periods. It is fully equipped with all safety equipment and has a professional skipper. Its day capacity is up to 17 persons and overnight is eight. Advance booking is essential at Fax: (686) 28539.Facilities for the following holiday sports in Kiribati are availble: soccer, squash, tennis, fishing and other water sports.