The atolls that form Kiribati are in three
groups that span an enormous area along the Pacific
Equator. The islands are low and threatened by floods
caused by climate change. The inhabitants fish for
housing needs, but otherwise the rich fish stocks will
only benefit the country through the sale of fishing
Brief profiles of Kiribati, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Kiribati consists of one island and 32 atolls
distributed over three island groups located along the
equator in the Pacific. With the sea area included, the
country is eleven times the size of Sweden, while the
land area is only slightly more than half of Íland.
Kiribati extends close to 400 km in an east-west
direction and at most 200 km from north to south.
The vast majority of residents live in the Tungaru
(Gilbert Islands) archipelago in the west. The name
Kiribati is pronounced "kiribas" and comes from the
Gilbert Islands of English. In Tungaru is the "capital
atoll" Tarawa, which is a chain of small islands around
a 500-meter-wide lagoon. On one of the small islands,
Bairiki, the government has its seat and it is sometimes
referred to as the capital instead of Tarawa. Parliament
is located on the island of Ambo, and the judicial
system of Betio, which is also Tarawa's port and
In the middle of Kiribati are the largely uninhabited
Phoenix Islands, in what has been the world's largest
marine protection area since 2008 (see Natural Resources
The farthest east is the Line Islands, a very
elongated chain of islands, some of which belong to the
United States. Among those belonging to Kiribati are
Kiritimati, one of the world's largest atolls previously
called Christmas Island (but which should not be
confused with Christmas Island outside Australia).
Kiritimati is almost half the land area in Kiribati.
Alone in the far west lies Banaba (Ocean Island), a
so-called raised coral island and previously fertile
phosphate island of the same type as Nauru (see Nauru:
Geography). It is the only island in Kiribati that rises
more than a few meters above sea level; the highest peak
is about 80 meters. All other islands are flat atolls
with lean soil.
The climate in Kiribati is tropical. The amount of
rainfall varies greatly between different parts of the
country, but drought is a recurring problem everywhere.
The Northeast Pass winds from March to October, while
the west winds can bring storms and heavy rain for the
rest of the year. There is great concern among the
Kiribati about climate change. Kiribati's atolls run the
risk of disappearing completely if the sea level rises
at the rate predicted by the researchers.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
811 km2 (2018)
Swedish +11 hours
Capital with number of inhabitants
the capital city of Tarawa about 50,200 (2012)
Other major cities
highest measured point (81 meters)
Average Precipitation / year
Tarawa 1 500 mm
Average / day
about 28 ░C all year