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The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. It comprises 33 atolls dispersed over 1,351 square miles (3,500 km²) close to the equator. The name Kiribati is pronounced ['kiribas] and is the Kiribati rendering of "Gilberts", derived from the English name for the main group of islands: the former Gilbert Islands. Because the written native language lacks the letter 's', the sound is rendered as 'ti.' The republic has maritime borders with the ► Marshall Islands, ► Micronesia, ► Nauru, the ► Solomon Islands, ► Tuvalu, ► Tokelau, the ► Cook Islands, ► French Polynesia and the ► United States outlying islands.
This section holds a short summary of the history of the area of present-day Kiribati, illustrated with maps, including historical maps of former countries and empires that included present-day Kiribati.
The I-Kiribati people settle present-day Kiribati between 1000 and 1300. European contact begins in the 16th century. Whalers, slave traders and merchant vessels arrive in great numbers in the 1800s, fomenting local tribal conflicts and introducing often fatal European diseases. Since 1877 the Gilbert Islands are under administration of the British Western Pacific High Commission. In an effort to restore a measure of order, the islands are united in 1892 with the Ellice Island in the British protectorate of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Banaba (Ocean Island) is annexed in 1900 after the discovery of phosphate-rich guano deposits and the entire collection is made a British colony in 1916. The Line and Phoenix Islands are incorporated piecemeal over the next 20 years. Between 1941 and 1943 the islands are occupied by Japan. Britain expands self-government in the islands during the 1960s. In 1975 the colony is split into the Gilbert Islands and the Ellice Islands. The Gilbert Islands obtain internal self-government in 1977 and the islands become independent in 1979 as the Republic of Kiribati.
Notes and references
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