Kiribati Facts: 41 Facts about Kiribati

Last updated on February 15th, 2020

21. “Gilbertese”, which is an oceanic language, is popular and widely used by the people of the island nation. English is also an official language but it is mostly used in the capital city of Tarawa.

22. Kiribati was once a nuclear weapon test site.

23. Population growth rate of the island nation is high and the government is concerned about it. Family planning methods are distributed by the government for free.

24. Rural houses are open-sided rectangular structures that have raised floors and thatched roofs. In the towns, concrete and corrugated iron are used for building houses.

25. A meeting house is a common place where a representative of each house in the village gather for formal discussions and decision-making on important issues. These meeting houses are called “maneaba.“

facts about Kiribati - A traditional meeting house called Maneaba
Maneaba – a traditional meeting house in Kiribati.

26. Churches in the villages are the largest structures and are mostly architectured in European style.

27. Subsistence agriculture and fishing are the means of survival of up to 80% of the population of the country.

28. Kiribati has one abundant natural resource that is fish. The country has established an exclusive economic zone surrounding 200 nautical miles around the island. The export of fish from the country brings in substantial revenue.

29. Brides have to undergo virginity tests in Kiribati. The test aims to identify whether the bride to be is a virgin or has had sexual intercourse already. However, there is no concrete evidence to support the notion that these tests can accurately determine the virginity status of a bride.

30. Kiribati has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world and the cause of these deaths is the respiratory infection and diarrheal disease.

31. Education is valued in the country and hence schooling is made compulsory from age six. At least 20% of the children receive higher education.

32. Causes of deaths in the country include tuberculosis, liver cancer, hepatitis B, and AIDS.

33. Culture plays a significant role in the life of the people of Kiribati. They respect elders and parents do their best to nurture their children with their values and traditions.

34. Early settlers of the island nation were the Austronesian-speaking people who settled in the region long before the 1st century A.D.

35. The 33 islands in Kiribati are spread over a whopping area of 3.5 million kilometers of ocean. And surprisingly, the population of the entire nation is under 120,000.

36. Kiribati is also famous for Kiritimati which is also known as Christmas Island. With about 388 square kilometers, Kiritimati or Christmas Island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world. The population of the island in 2015 was estimated to be around 6,447.

Giant trevally
A Giant trevally. The giant trevally is distinguished by its steep head profile, strong tail scutes, and a variety of other more detailed anatomical features. Image credit – Wikipedia

37. The island is famous for fishing because of the availability of a variety of fish including sailfish, marlin, wahoo, barracuda, and tuna. Giant Trevally or GT is one of the most sought after fish of the island. It has distinct features and can weigh up to 80 kg.

38. The island is also famous for bird watching. Some of the species of the birds that can be seen on the island include pacific long-tailed cuckoo, Kuhl’s lorikeet, and the endemic Christmas Island warbler. Some beautiful seabirds also flourish on the island nation.

39. Scuba divers also have an opportunity to see over 200 species of coral. These species include a variety of marine animals like turtles, dolphins, sharks and reef fish.

40. The islands were named the Gilbert Islands after the British explorer Thomas Gilbert who discovered the island in 1788. The name “Kiribati” is the local pronunciation of “Gilberts”.

41. Tourism in the country is flourishing to support the country’s economy. The government is also taking active measures to attract tourists from all over the world.

Kiribati – country at a glance

Independence12 July 1979 (from the UK)
Capital CityTarawa
(1°28′N 173°2′E)
Largest CityTarawa
(1°28′N 173°2′E)
Areatotal: 811 sq km
land: 811 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Population114,189 (2022 est.)
Official LanguageEnglish
National Anthem"Teirake kaini Kiribati" (Stand Up, Kiribati)
National colorsred, white, blue, yellow
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
CurrencyKiribati dollar
Australian dollar (AUD)
Industriesfishing, handicrafts
Life expectancy at birth67.9 Years (2022 est.)
Exports$30 million (2019 est.)
fish and fish produces, ships, coconut oil, copra (2019)
Imports$180 million (2019 est.)
refined petroleum, netting, raw sugar, rice, poultry meats (2019)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,300 (2020 est.)
Birth rate20.12 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Death rate6.92 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Sex ratio0.94 male(s)/female (2022 est.)
Government typepresidential republic
PresidentTaneti Maamau
Vice PresidentTeuea Toatu
National symbolfrigatebird
National colorsred, white, blue, yellow
Terrainmostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs
Mean elevation2 m
Lowest pointPacific Ocean 0 m
Highest pointBanaba Island , Gilbert Islands 81 m
Climatetropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds
Agricultural land42%
Natural resourcesphosphate (production discontinued in 1979), coconuts (copra), fish
Time Zone(UTC+12, +13, +14)
Internet country
Calling Code+686
Drives on theLeft
Table last updatedJuly 31, 2022