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Friday 24th May
Kiribati Facts
The Republic of Kiribati consists of thirty-three atolls.

Kiribati is pronounced as keer-i-bahs.

The islands of Kiribati span a vast area in the Pacific Ocean and lie across the Equator and the International Date Line.

The main island groups in Kiribati are the Gilberts Group, the Phoenix Group and the Line Islands Group.

The highest point on Kiribati is on the island of Banaba (81 m).

Banaba is one of three large phosphate rock islands in the Pacific. (The other two are Nauru, and Makatea in French Polynesia).

The island of Kiritimati (Christmas Island) is the world's largest atoll (in land area).

The islands were formerly called the Gilbert Islands after Thomas Gilbert, a British navigator.

In 1892 Kiribati became part of the British Protectorate of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands (Tuvalu).

The British government annexed the island of Banaba, a major source of phosphate, in 1900.

The British Colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands was formed in 1916. Later, the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands were added to the Colony.

Between 1916 and 1925 the UK administered Tokelau along with the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) and the Ellice Islands (Tuvalu).

During the Second World War Japanese troops occupied the Gilbert Islands. Fierce fighting took place in Tarawa between the Japanese and US troops.

In 1957 the United Kingdom tested the hydrogen bomb near Kiritimati (Christmas Island).

The Ellice Islands gained independence in 1978. The name of the country was changed to Tuvalu.

The Gilbert Islands achieved independence in 1979. The name of the country changed to Kiribati.

Kiribati retained its links with the United Kingdom through membership of the Commonwealth.

In 1981 the people from the island of Banaba (Ocean Island) accepted compensation for lost phosphate revenues.

Kiribati is a member of the University of the South Pacific in Suva (Fiji). Members are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Republic of Kiribati is particularly concerned about global warming. It is thought that climate change will see the disappearance of the low-lying islands. Two of the uninhabited coral reefs have already been submerged by rising sea levels.

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