Skip to main content
Flag of Kiribati

Kiribati country facts

Republic of Kiribati Australia-Oceania Tarawa 104,488 inhabitants 811 sq km 128.84 inhabitants/sq km Australian dollars (AUD) population evolution



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 half way between Hawaii and Australia

Geographic coordinates

1 25 N, 173 00 E

Area (sq km)

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 (sq km)

four times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (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

Elevation extremes (m)

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation on Banaba 81 m

Natural resources

phosphate (production discontinued in 1979)

Land use (%)

arable land: 2.47%
permanent crops: 39.51%
other: 58.02% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)


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.)

Languages (%)

I-Kiribati, English (official)

Religions (%)

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.)


104,488 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 31.5% (male 16,779/female 16,151)
15-24 years: 21.3% (male 11,099/female 11,122)
25-54 years: 37.8% (male 18,978/female 20,477)
55-64 years: 5.5% (male 2,605/female 3,137)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 1,630/female 2,510) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Kiribati

Median age (years)

total: 23.6 years
male: 22.7 years
female: 24.4 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

1.18% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

21.85 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

7.18 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

-2.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 43.9% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.83% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

TARAWA (capital) 44,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate (deaths/100,000 live births)

9 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 35.37 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 36.59 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 34.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 65.47 years
male: 63.03 years
female: 68.02 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

2.56 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Health expenditures (% of GDP)

10.1% of GDP (2011)

Physicians density (physicians/1,000 population)

0.38 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 87.4% of population
rural: 50.6% of population
total: 66.8% of population
unimproved: urban: 12.6% of population
rural: 49.4% of population
total: 33.2% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 51.2% of population
rural: 30.6% of population
total: 39.7% of population
unimproved: urban: 48.8% of population
rural: 69.4% of population
total: 60.3% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate (%)

46% (2008)

Education expenditures (% of GDP)

12% of GDP (2001)

Literacy (%)


School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) (years)

total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2008)


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

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)


preindependence - The Gilbert and Ellice Islands Order in Council 1915, The Gilbert Islands Order in Council 1975; latest promulgated 12 July 1979 (at independence); amended 1995 (2013)

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


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Anote TONG (since 10 July 2003); Vice President Teima ONORIO; 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
cabinet: 12-member cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the House of Parliament
elections: the House of Parliament nominates the presidential candidates from among its members following parliamentary elections and then those candidates compete in a general election; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for two more terms); election last held on 13 January 2012 (next to be held in 2015); vice president appointed by the president
election results: Anote TONG 42.2%, Tetaua TAITAI 35%, Rimeta BENIAMINA 22.8%

Legislative branch

unicameral House of Parliament or Maneaba Ni Maungatabu (46 seats; 44 members elected by popular vote, 1 ex officio member - the attorney general, 1 nominated by the Rabi Council of Leaders (representing Banaba Island); members serve four-year terms)
elections: legislative elections were held in two rounds - the first round on 21 October 2011 and the second round 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

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Makurita BAARO (since 21 May 2014); note - also serves as Permanent Representative to the UN
chancery: 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400A, New York, New York 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 867-3310
FAX: [1] (212) 867-3320
consulate(s): there is an honorary consulate in Honolulu

Diplomatic representation from the US

the US does not have an embassy in Kiribati; the US ambassador to Fiji, currently Ambassador Frankie A. REED, is accredited to Kiribati

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)


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 Islands. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence from the UK in 1979. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. The economy has fluctuated widely in recent years. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of GDP. Private sector initiatives and a financial sector are in the early stages of development. Foreign financial aid from the EU, UK, US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UN agencies, and Taiwan accounts for 20-25% of GDP. Remittances from seamen on merchant ships abroad account for more than $5 million each year. Kiribati receives around $15 million annually for the government budget from an Australian trust fund.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$698 million (2013 est.)
$678.2 million (2012 est.)
$660.1 million (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$173 million (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

2.9% (2013 est.)
2.8% (2012 est.)
2.7% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$6,400 (2013 est.)
$6,300 (2012 est.)
$6,300 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 24.3%
industry: 7.9%
services: 67.8% (2010 est.)

Labor force

note: economically active, not including subsistence farmers (2001)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

agriculture: 2.7%
industry: 32%
services: 65.3% (2000)

Unemployment rate (%)

2% (1992 est.)

Population below poverty line (%)


Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $55.52 million
expenditures: $107.1 million (2010 est.)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

32.1% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

-29.8% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

0.2% (2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Agriculture - products

copra, taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, vegetables; fish


fishing, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate (%)


Current account balance

-$35.01 million (2010 est.)
-$21 million (2007 est.)


$7.066 million (2010 est.)
$17 million (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities (%)

copra 62%, coconuts, seaweed, fish


$80.09 million (2010 est.)
$62 million (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, miscellaneous manufactured goods, fuel

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$8.37 million (2010 est.)

External debt ($)

$10 million (1999 est.)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.031 (2011)
0.9695 (2011 est.)
1.2822 (2009)
1.2059 (2008)

Fiscal year



Electricity - production (kWh)

25 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

23.25 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

5,000 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

100% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

0 bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

300 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

420 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

59,340 Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

9,000 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

16,000 (2012)

Telephone system

general assessment: generally good quality national and international service
domestic: wire line 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)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

327 (2012)

Internet users

7,800 (2009)



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 (km)

total: 670 km (2011)

Waterways (km)

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

Merchant marine

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 branches

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

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 25,190 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 18,364
females age 16-49: 20,302 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 1,132
female: 1,120 (2010 est.)

Military - note

Kiribati does not have military forces; defense assistance is provided by Australia and NZ

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Largest cities of Kiribati

These are the 50 largest cities of Kiribati ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Bairiki 44,428