The Republic of Kiribati (Kirib. Ribaberiki Kiribati) is a Pacific state located in Micronesia and Polynesia. It borders in the northwest with the waters of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, in the west and southwest with the territorial waters of Nauru, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, in the south and southeast with the territorial waters of Tokelau, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. In the north and northeast it borders on neutral Pacific waters, as well as on the Outer Small Islands (USA). The coastal strip is 1,143 km long. The exclusive coastal economic zone (EEZ) is about 3.5 million km². Territorial waters - about 22 km from the baseline. The Republic of Kiribati includes 33 small atolls, twenty of which are uninhabited. Of these, 16 islands and atolls in the Gilbert archipelago, Banaba island (Ocean), 8 islands in the Phoenix archipelago and 8 islands in the Line archipelago. The total area is 812.34 km². The population of Kiribati is 103 058 people. (2010, census). The capital is South Tarava (Bairiki). The independence of the colony of Gilbert Island from Great Britain was proclaimed on July 12, 1979, in the same year it was officially renamed the Republic of Kiribati. In 1983, a friendship treaty between the United States and Kiribati entered into force, according to which the United States refused claims for 14 islands in the Line and Phoenix archipelagos, recognizing them as part of Kiribati.
All Kiribati islands are atolls (Banaba Island is a raised
atoll). According to the theory of Charles Darwin, the formation of
atolls occurred as a result of the immersion of volcanic islands, on
the surface of which corals gradually grew. A fringing reef, and
subsequently a barrier, was formed, which was gradually built up by
corals. The result was a dry atoll. So, scientists Marshall and
Jacobson suggested that the atoll Tarava appeared about 2500 years
ago. Gilbert Islands formed on the underwater peaks of the mountains
of the Micronesian uplift. Phoenix Islands - on the mountain ranges
of the southern part of the Pacific Plate, the Line Islands are
located on the peaks of underwater mountain ranges rising to the
ocean surface, bordering the Central Pacific Basin from the east.
The Republic of Kiribati consists of 32 low-lying atolls and 1 raised atoll of the Banaba, or Ocean. The total land area is 812.34 km². The distance from the westernmost to the easternmost island of the republic is about 4000 km.
32 atolls and one island (Banaba) are divided into 4 groups of islands:
16 islands of the Gilbert archipelago, including the Taraw Atoll;
Banaba Island (or Ocean) - not far from Nauru;
8 islands of the Phoenix archipelago;
8 islands of Line archipelago (or Central Polynesian Sporades).
Gilbert Islands is a group of islands in the southeastern part of Micronesia. The total area is approximately 279 km². Within the archipelago, three subgroups can be distinguished, which differ in the amount of precipitation: the Northern Gilbert Islands (Makin and Butaritari), the Central Gilbert Islands (all atolls from Marakei to Aranuki) and the Southern Gilbert Islands (from Nonouti to Arorae). The capital of the state, South Tarava, is located on the territory of the Tarava Atoll of this archipelago.
About 1480 km east of the Gilbert Islands are the Phoenix Islands - an archipelago of 9 uninhabited and one inhabited (Canton Island) atolls in Polynesia. Further east are the Line Islands (or Central Polynesian Sporades), including the world's largest Christmas atoll (or Kiritimati) and the easternmost island in Kiribati Caroline.
All islands in the Line archipelago, except the islands of Kiritimati, Tabuaeran and Teraina, and in the Phoenix archipelago, except the Canton atoll, are uninhabited. Atolls, separated by many narrow straits, are mostly elongated from north to south. Most of the atolls of Kiribati have small salty lagoons, either completely surrounded by land (as on the Marakei atoll), or partially (as on the atolls Nonouti and Tabiteuea). Compared to the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, the lagoons on the Gilbert Islands are shallow (the maximum lagoon depth of the Taraw Atoll is 25 meters).
The highest point of the country is on the island of Banaba (81 m).
Until 1979, on the island of Banaba, which had one of the world's largest reserves of phosphate rock, phosphate mining was carried out, which led to significant environmental problems. As a result, most of the population of this island moved to Rambi, currently part of the state of Fiji. It is also assumed that large accumulations of iron-manganese nodules, as well as cobalt, are located on the ocean floor of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Kiribati, however, development is not currently underway due to economic inexpediency.