The remote Pacific Island nation of Kiribati is a group of 33 coral atolls that straddle the equator and are dispersed across vast ocean distances.
Kiribati is one of the least developed Pacific Islands and has few natural resources. Foreign financial aid accounts for 20-25% of GDP, with copra, fish, tourism and remittances from citizens working abroad composing the majority. Economic development is hampered by a shortage of skilled workers, poor infrastructure and isolation from international markets.
Kiribati is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and rising sea levels, with an average elevation of less than two metres above sea level. High tides have already destroyed homes and resources that are critical to livelihoods, such as coral reefs and fisheries. Groundwater has been affected by salt-water intrusion caused by sea level rise and the increased frequency of storms and tropical cyclones. This makes the water unfit for people to drink, increases the risk of epidemics, and reduces yields from agriculture. Low rainfall and raised temperatures are also reducing freshwater supplies - directly affecting human wellbeing and the productivity of farming, and sometimes necessitating severe water rationing.
Without adaptation efforts most of the land of the major islands could be uninhabitable by 2050.
Kiribati is also vulnerable socio-economically, and population growth is increasing environmental pressures. Infant mortality due to diarrheal disease is the highest in the Pacific, and life expectancy is low. Health care, water and sanitation services are inadequate. Nearly half of Kiribati’s population live in South Tarawa, an area that is has a greater population density than Tokyo. At current rates the population will more than double by 2025.
811 sq km
103,248 (July 2013 est.)
119.2 (per sq. km)
GDP per capita ($US)
$6,100 (2012 est.)
0-14 years: 32.3%
(male 16,989 female 16,355)
15-24 years: 21.2%
(male 10,985 female 10,950)
25-54 years: 37.2%
(male 18,486 female 19,955)
55-64 years: 5.3%
(male 2,515 female 3,004)
65 years and over: 3.9%
(male 1,572 female 2,437)
Micronesian 98.8%, other 1.2% (2000 census)
I-Kiribati, English (official)
Roman Catholic 55%, Protestant 36%, Mormon 3.1%, Baha'i 2.2%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.9%, other 1.8% (2005 census)
21 of the 33 islands are inhabited; Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Makatea in French Polynesia, and Nauru; Kiribati is the only country in the world to fall into all four hemispheres (northern, southern, eastern, and western)