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You are in:  Nations > Oceania > Kiribati
Kiribati*Kiribati flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Tarawa
Area: 811 sq km; 313 sq miles
Population: 87,025 (2000 Estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 37 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 63 per cent (1998 Estimate)


Exports: Copra, seaweed, fish

Industry: Fishing, handicrafts

Agriculture: Taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, vegetables

Currency: 1 Australian dollar ($A), consisting of 100 cents

Natural resources: Solar-evaporated salt, fish


The people

Ethnic: Micronesian, Tuvaluan minority

Language: English (official), Gilbertese (I-Kiribati). I-Kiribati speaks a Micronesian dialect called Gilbertese or I-Kiribati. The word "Kiribati" is the local spelling of "Gilberts" which was the original name for the islands. Kirbati was a British colony until 1979 and English is the official language, although it is rarely heard outside of urban South Tarawa.

Religion: Roman Catholic 52 per cent, Congregational, Seventh-day Adventist, Baha'i, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), some indigenous beliefs, other Protestant denominations 48 per cent. American Protestant missionaries first introduced Christianity in the 1850s. Catholicism is more prominent in the North. It was introduced in 1880 by two I-Kirbati who had become Catholic whilst working in Tahiti. Other Christian faiths with a strong presence include Seventh-day Adventist, the Church of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). The Baha'i faith also has followers in Kiribati.


The history

Independence: 12 July 1979 (from the United Kingdom)

Government: The Republic of Kiribati has a beretitenti (President) as its head of state and Government, who is directly elected from the few candidates who are nominated by the 40-member Maneaba ni Maungatabu (House of Assembly). A vice-President and cabinet, appointed from among the members of the assembly, who, except for one member, are all directly elected, assist the President. All citizens may vote at the age of 18. Each inhabited island has a council and an island clerk represents the Government. Local authority is vested in the maneaba council of unimane ("old men").

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