Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, located in the central Pacific Ocean, about 4,000 km (about 2,500 mi) southwest of Hawaii. It is part of the division of the Pacific islands that is known as Micronesia. Kiribati consists of 33 coral islands divided among three island groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands, and the Line Islands.
All of the islands are atolls (ring-shaped islands with central lagoons) except for the island of Banaba in the Gilbert Islands which is a raised limestone Island. Of the 33 islands of Kiribati, 21 are inhabited. Most of the population is concentrated in the Gilbert Islands and only one of the islands in Phoenix Group (Kanton Island) is inhabited and three of the Line Islands are permanently inhabited. The capital of Kiribati is Tarawa, an atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Bairiki, an islet of Tarawa, serves as an administrative center.
Land and Water
Kiribati has a total land area of 811 sq km (313 sq mi). The islands extend about 3,900 km (about 2,400 mi) from east to west. From north to south they extend about 2,100 km (about 1,300 mi), straddling the equator. Kiritimati (also called Christmas Island), one of the Line Islands, occupies 609 sq km (235 sq mi) and has the largest land area of any atoll in the world. Kiribati’s exclusive economic zone (area of the ocean in which it controls fishing and other rights) covers more than 3 million sq km (more than 1 million sq miles).
The majority of the atolls is barely more than six metres above sea level and surrounded by barrier reefs creating picturesque lagoons for fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and other water sports. Professional scuba diving guide are available on Christmas Island, Fanning Island and Tarawa.
Prior in 1994, the eastern and western islands groups were on either side of the International Dateline with a 23-hour time difference between them. The President of Kiribati at that time decided to move the dateline for convenience which attributed a 2 hour difference between Islands in the Gilbert Islands Group and the (Line and Phoenix) Islands Group. This also marked Kiribati to become the first nation to see in the Third Millennium and Caroline was renamed Millennium Island to celebrate the occasion during the year 2000.
Kiribati is 12 hours ahead of GMT - 2 hours ahead of Tokyo and 22 hours ahead of Honolulu, on the other side of the international dateline.
Fishing in Kiribati - Bone and Sports Fishing
Are you up for the adventure of fishing one of the best fishing locations in the world? Whether you prefer the deep blue waters with big game fish, or prefer the crystalline waters and serenity of saltwater flyfishing, Kiribati is the destination for you. A wise man once said “Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job”.
One big reason anglers come to Kiribati though is the mighty bonefish - by fly or saltwater spin, Kiritimati (Christmas) Island is the place to be. There's also some world class game fishing, having obtained many International Game Fishing World Records, the waters in Kiribati are open for international anglers to try their hand. From bonefish, Giant Trevally, to Sail Fish and Marlin, Kiribati won’t disappoint.
So why wait - get your friends and mates and make the trip to fishing nirvana - Kiritimati can be accessed via Fiji or Hawaii, while you can get to Tarawa and the Gilbert Islands through Fiji only.
Kiritimati Island is a sanctuary and breeding ground in the Pacific for seabirds. With very little land in any direction, Kiritimati supports 18 different species of birds, including the endemic Christmas Island Warbler. The island is also home, and a population stronghold, to the endangered Phoenix Petrel and the White Throated Storm Petrel.
Supporting nine designated protected zones to support the breeding and nesting of the various bird species Kiritimati takes it role in supporting these birds very seriously. The Kiribati Ministry for Wildlife and Conservation is responsible for ensuring the breeding grounds are not disturbed.
While seabirds can nest and breed throughout the year, as there is little temperature fluctuation, the best breeding seasons are June and December.
In Central Kiribati the Phoenix Island Protected Area also supports an extensive bird colony and nesting habitat.
Birds found on Kiritimati Island are: phoenix shearwaters, wedge-tailed shearwaters, christmas shearwaters, audubon's shearwaters, polynesian storm petrels, red-tailed tropicbirds, masked boobies, brown boobies, great frigate birds, red-footed boobies, lesser frigate birds, great crested terns, grey backed terns, sooty terns, brown noddies black noddies, blue-gray noddies, and white terns.
To arrange bird watching tours contact your accommodation who can arrange a personalised tour to suit your specific interests.
To experience our culture and lifestyle will be a memory you will have for the rest of your life. The culture of Kiribati is complex and diverse, with each island having its own unique ways. Though a living body, many people remain true to the century old traditions and practices that define what it means to be I-Kiribati.
Cultural practices such as community meetings under the maneaba (traditional meeting house) to socialize and feast (a botaki), respect of elderly people, guest hospitality and importance of family remain important facets in the culture of Kiribati.
We warmly welcome visitors in many of our customs and activities, and are proud of our way of life and its celebration. The way of living is very simple and people plan theirliving for a day only, without worrying about their future, living with the moto “Tomorrow is another day”. Survival revolves around strength, motivation and ambition to live within that particular day. Daily lives revolve around the rise and fall of the tide, dictating fishing conditions and timing and availability of transport. Sustainance is from the coconut and breadfruit trees, and the ocean.
The traditional dances of Kiribati are a unique form of art and expression. The movement of the feet, hands and of course the whole body imitates the movement of the frigate birds while walking and flying. The costumes are made out of local materials. The frigate bird symbolizes many important things in the traditional living context of the I-Kiribati. It provides navigation to fishermen while lost at sea, provides weather information for the people and also gives a sign of peace and harmony.
Visitors can experience I-Kiribati culture in many shapes and forms. However we do recommend the best way is to take the plunge and live on an outer island for a week and to immerse you fully in our daily culture. To plan such a visit we have included a number of suggested itineraries that can help you, as well as a number of fact files on many of Kiribati’s outer islands.