The island nation of Kiribati, officially the Independent and Sovereign Republic of Kiribati, is located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The country comprises 32 atolls and one raised coral island, Banaba, situated on the equator and bordering the International Date Line at its easternmost point among the Line Islands. Interestingly, Kiribati is the only country that is situated within all four hemispheres. ‘Kiribati’ is the local pronunciation of ‘Gilberts’ derived from the main island chain, Gilbert Islands, in which Kiribati is part of. Gilbert Islands, on the other hand, is named after Thomas Gilbert, the British explorer who sailed through the islands in 1788.
Twenty-one of the islands in Kiribati are inhabited. Moreover, the country is divided into three island groups: Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands, and Line Islands. Most of the country’s population lives in the Gilbert Islands, while the Phoenix Islands (except for Kanton), and five of the Line Islands are uninhabited. Kiribati’s capital and largest city is South Tarawa, which has a number of islets connected via a series of causeways.
What to see & do
Tourists who plan to spend their vacation on Kiribati’s beaches will not only get to enjoy the beach and water activities, but also the wonderful scenery. The palm trees that line the white sandy beaches are stunning to look at, as well as the lagoons. Boating and yachting are popular activities in this island nation, as well as exploring the atolls on bike or foot.
Although uninhabited, the Phoenix Islands is one of the most important and most popular tourist destinations in Kiribati. The Phoenix Islands is the second largest protected marine reserve in the world, after the Chagos Archipelago. This group of eight atolls and two submerged coral reefs in the central Pacific Ocean houses about 120 species of coral and over 500 species of fish. This is a great place to explore the country’s beautiful marine life.
To learn about the country’s history, especially the World War II period, the most prominent World War II sights are located in Tarawa, Butaritari, Abemama, and Banaba. Points of interest to be seen in these
places include coastal defence guns, bunkers, and pillboxes. On the coasts of Tarawa and Butaritari, tanks, ship wrecks, amtracs, and plane wrecks can be seen. Guided tours are available on these places.
How to get around within Kiribati
Since the atolls in the country are widely scattered, air travel is the main mode of transportation when going from island to island. Bonriki International Airport in South Tarawa serves airlines that operate domestic flights. Air Kiribati has two turboprop aircraft for inter-island travel, going to all Outer Islands in the Gilbert Islands group. Coral Sun Airways also serves as an alternative to Air Kiribati, and can also be chartered for private use.
How to get there
Bonriki International Airport in the capital South Tarawa is the main gateway to Kiribati. Air Pacific and Air Kiribati connects the country with Nadi in Fiji, while Nauru Airlines has flights from Brisbane in Australia, Nauru, and Nadi in Fiji. Both Nauru Airlines and Air Marshall Islands fly from Majuro in Marshall Islands to Bonriki International Airport.
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