Where Is Kiribati and What
Is It Known For?
Kiribati, officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, straddles the Equator and comprises coral islands in the Gilbert, Phoenix and Line Island groups and the volcanic island of Banaba. Kiribati is the only country in the world to be located in both hemispheres and lying on both sides of the 180th meridian. The climate is hot, and wetter in the north. Most people live on the Gilbert Islands, and the capital, Bairiki, is on Tarawa Island in this group.
Kiribati is expected to be the first country in which all land territory disappears due to global climate change. According to the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, two small uninhabited Kiribati islets, Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea, disappeared underwater in 1999. The islet of Tepuka Savilivili no longer has any coconut trees due to salination. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will rise by about half a metre (20 in) by 2100 due to global warming and a further rise would be inevitable. It is thus likely that within a century the nation's arable land will become subject to increased soil salination and will be largely submerged.
However, sea-level rise may not necessarily mean Kiribati will be inundated. Paul Kench at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Arthur Webb at the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji released a study in 2010 on the dynamic response of reef islands to sea level rise in the central Pacific. Kiribati was mentioned in the study, and Webb and Kench found that the three major urbanised islands in Kiribati Betio, Bairiki and Nanikai increased by 30 percent (36 hectares), 16.3 per cent (5.8 hectares) and 12.5 per cent (0.8 hectares), respectively.
Kiribati is one of the world's poorest countries. It has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits on Banaba were exhausted at the time of independence in 1979. Copra and fish are exported. Kiribati relies on remittances from workers abroad and foreign aid.