Geographic and Governmental Profile of Kiribati

Background
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.
Location
Oceania, group of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the Equator, as well as the International Date Line; the capital Tarawa is about half way between Hawaii and Australia
Geographic coordinates
1 25 N, 173 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Oceania
Area
total:
811 sq km
rank:
187
land:
811 sq km
water:
0 sq km
includes three island groups - Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands
Area - comparative
four times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
0 km
Coastline
1,143 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
Climate
tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds
Terrain
mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs
Elevation extremes
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:
2.74%
permanent crops:
47.95%
other:
49.31% (2005)
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Irrigated land
NA
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)
Country name
conventional long form:
Republic of Kiribati
conventional short form:
Kiribati
local long form:
Republic of Kiribati
local short form:
Kiribati
pronounced keer-ree-bahss
former:
Gilbert Islands
Government type
republic
Capital
name:
Tarawa
geographic coordinates:
0 53 S, 169 32 E
time difference:
UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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 units; Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands; note - in addition, 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)
Independence
12 July 1979 (from the UK)
Constitution
12 July 1979
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
Suffrage
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 the 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
Court of Appeal; High Court; 26 Magistrates' courts; judges at all levels are appointed by the president
Political parties and leaders
Boutokaan Te Koaua Party or BTK [Taberannang TIMEON]; Maneaban Te Mauri Party or MTM [Teburoro TITO]; Maurin Kiribati Pati or MKP; National Progressive Party or NPP [Dr. Harry TONG]
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
NA
International organization participation
ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, FAO, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, ITUC, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US
Kiribati does not have an embassy in the US; 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 is accredited to Kiribati
Flag description
the upper half is red with a yellow frigate bird 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 frigate bird symbolizes authority and freedom
National symbol(s)
frigatebird
National anthem
name:
"Teirake kaini Kiribati" (Stand Up, Kiribati)
lyrics/music:
Urium Tamuera IOTEBA
adopted 1979
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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