Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979. The capital and now most populated area, South Tarawa, consists of a number of islets, connected by a series of causeways. These comprise about half the area of Tarawa Atoll.
Caroline Island is the easternmost of the uninhabited coralatolls which comprise the southern Line Islands in the central Pacific Ocean. First sighted by Europeans in 1606, claimed by United Kingdom in 1868, and part of the Republic of Kiribati since the island nation's independence in 1979, Caroline Island has remained relatively untouched and is considered one of the world's most pristine tropical islands, despite guano mining, copra harvesting, and human habitation in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is home to one of the world's largest populations of the coconut crab and is an important breeding site for seabirds, most notably the Sooty Tern. The atoll is best known for its role in celebrations surrounding the arrival of the year 2000 – a 1995 realignment of the International Date Line made Caroline Island the easternmost land west of the Date Line and therefore one of the first points of land on earth to see sunrise in the year 2000. (More...)