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
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.