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Tabiteuea Kiribati2.jpg
Satellite photograph of Tabiteuea
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates Coordinates: 1°21′S 174°48′E / 1.350°S 174.800°E / -1.350; 174.800
Archipelago Gilbert Islands
Area 40.33 km2 (15.57 sq mi)
Highest elevation 3 m (10 ft)
Population 4,993 (as of 2010 Census)
Density 123.8 /km2 (320.6 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups I-Kiribati 99.7%
Additional information
Capital Utiroa
Former seat Buariki
Drawing of a native of the island, showing his distinctive conical headdress; drawn by Alfred Thomas Agate
Main articles: Kiribati and Gilbert Islands

Tabiteuea is an atoll in the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, south of the Tarawa Atoll. The atoll consists of two main islands: Eanikai in the north, Nuguti in the south, and several smaller islets in between along the eastern rim of the atoll. The atoll has a total land area of 38 km², while the lagoon measures 365 km². The population numbered 4,899 in 2005.

While most atolls of the Gilbert Islands correspond to local government areas governed by island councils, Tabiteuea, like the main atoll Tarawa, is divided into two:

  • Tabiteuea North has a land area of 26 km² and a population of 3,600 as of 2005, distributed among twelve villages (capital Utiroa)
  • Tabiteuea South has a land area of 12 km² and a population of 1,299, distributed among six villages (capital Buariki).


"Tabiteuea" is Gilbertese for "land of no chiefs"; the island is traditionally egalitarian. In the late 1800s, the two islands were the site of a religious war when the populace of Tabiteuea North converted to Christianity and, led by a man called Kapu who had assembled a "hymn-singing army on a crusade", invaded and conquered Tabiteuea South, which had maintained traditional religious practice.[1]

The island, then also known as Drummond's Island, is among those that were visited in 1841 by the United States Exploring Expedition. During the expedition's sojourn on the island, one sailor was killed by natives; twelve islanders were killed in the ensuing battle with the Americans.

During the American Civil War, the Confederate States Navy steamer CSS Shenandoah visited the island on March 23rd 1865 in search of United States whalers, but the whalers had fled the area. Captain James Waddell described the islanders as "of copper colour, short of statue, athletic in form, intelligent and docile" and were "without a stich of clothing".[2]

Tabiteuea Post Office opened around 1911 and was renamed Tabiteuea North around 1972. Tabiteuea South Post Office opened on 13 September 1965.[3]


  1. ^ MACDONALD, Barrie, Cinderellas of the Empire: Towards a history of Kiribati and Tuvalu, 2001, ISBN 982-02-0335-X, p.38
  2. ^ WADDELL, James C.S.S. Shenandoah: The Memoirs of Lieutenant Commanding James I. Waddell, 1996, ISBN 1-155750-368-0, p.143
  3. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 5 July 2013.