Geography of Kiribati

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Map of Kiribati

This article describes the geography of the Republic of Kiribati. Kiribati consists of 32 atolls and one island scattered over all four hemispheres in an expanse of ocean equivalent in size to the continental United States. The islands lie roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the Micronesian region of the South Pacific. The three main island groupings are the Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands, and Line Islands. On 1 January 1995 Kiribati moved the International Date Line to include its easternmost islands and make it the same day throughout the country.

Kiribati includes Kiritimati (Christmas Atoll; in the Line Islands), the largest coral atoll (in terms of land area, not dimensions) in the world, and Banaba (Ocean Island), one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific.

Most of the land on these islands is less than two metres above sea level.[1] A 1989 United Nations report identified Kiribati as one of the countries that could completely disappear in the 21st century if steps are not taken to address global climate change.

Owing to a population growth rate of more than 2% and the overcrowding around the capital of South Tarawa, a program of migration was begun in 1989 to move nearly 5,000 inhabitants to outlying atolls, mainly in the Line Islands. A program of resettlement to the mostly uninhabited Phoenix Islands was begun in 1995.

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area constitutes 11.34% of Kiribati’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and with a size of 408,250 km2 (157,630 sq mi) it is the second largest marine protected area (MPA) in the Pacific Ocean.


Kiribati's Gilbert Islands
Oceania, group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia; note - on 1 January 1995, Kiribati unilaterally moved the International Date Line from the middle of the country to include its easternmost islands and make it the same day throughout the country
Geographic coordinates
1°25′N 173°00′E / 1.417°N 173.000°E / 1.417; 173.000
Map references
Land boundaries
1,143 km (710 mi)
Maritime claims
  • Territorial sea: 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi)
  • Exclusive economic zone: 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi)
Tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds
Mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs
Elevation extremes
Natural resources
Phosphate (production discontinued in 1979)
Land use
  • Arable land: 2.47%
  • Permanent crops: 39.51%
  • Other: 58.02% (2011)
Irrigated land
Natural hazards
Typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low-level of some of the islands make them very sensitive to changes in sea level.
Environment - current issues
Heavy pollution in lagoon of south Tarawa atoll due to heavy migration mixed with traditional practices such as lagoon latrines and open-pit dumping; ground water at risk
Environment - international agreements
Geography - note
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)

Extreme points[edit]

This is a list of the extreme points of Kiribati, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.


  1. ^ Dekker, Rodney (9 December 2011). "Island neighbours at the mercy of rising tides". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 Dec 2011.