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Kiribati travel guide - Travel S helper

Kiribati

travel guide

Kiribati, formally the Republic of Kiribati (Gilbertese: Ribaberiki Kiribati), is a central Pacific island country. The country is made up of 33 atolls and reef islands, as well as one elevated coral island, Banaba. They cover an area of 800 square kilometers (310 square miles) in total and are spread over 3.5 million square kilometers (1,351,000 square miles). Their spread spans the equator and the 180th meridian, but the International Date Line is indented to align the Line Islands with the Kiribati Islands. The permanent population is little more than 100,000 (2011), with almost half of the population residing in Tarawa Atoll.

In 1979, Kiribati declared independence from the United Kingdom. South Tarawa, the capital and currently the most populous region, is comprised of a collection of islands linked by a network of causeways. These cover about half of Tarawa Atoll.

Kiribati is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, and joined the United Nations as a full member in 1999.

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Kiribati - Info Card

Population

119,940

Currency

Australian dollar

Time zone

UTC+12, +13, +14

Area

811 km2 (313 sq mi)

Calling code

+686

Official language

English, Gilbertese

Kiribati | Introduction

Geography Of Kiribati

Kiribati is made up of 33 atolls and one lonely island (Banaba), and it stretches into both the eastern and western hemispheres, as well as the northern and southern hemispheres. It is the only nation that can be found in all four hemispheres. The island groupings are as follows:

Banaba is a remote island located between Nauru and the Gilbert Islands.

Gilbert Islands: A group of 16 atolls situated around 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) north of Fiji.

The Phoenix Islands are a group of eight atolls and coral islands situated about 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles) southeast of the Gilberts.

Line Islands: A group of eight atolls and one reef situated about 3,300 kilometers (2,051 miles) east of the Gilberts.

Environmental issues

Two tiny uninhabited Kiribati islands, Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea, vanished underwater in 1999, according to the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (formerly the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme). According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels will increase by approximately 50 cm (20 in) by 2100 as a result of global warming, and additional rises are unavoidable. As a result, it is probable that the nation’s arable land will be susceptible to increasing soil salination and will be completely inundated within a century.

Kiribati’s vulnerability to sea-level rise is worsened by the Pacific decadal oscillation, a climate switch phenomena that leads in shifts from La Nia to El Nio periods. This has an impact on the water level. For example, in 2000, there was a shift from El Nio times of downward pressure on sea levels to La Nia periods of upward pressure on sea levels, which produces more frequent and higher high tide levels. The Perigean spring tide (also known as a king tide) may cause saltwater to flood low-lying parts of Kiribati’s islands.

The atolls and reef islands have the ability to react to fluctuations in sea level. In 2010, Paul Kench of New Zealand’s University of Auckland and Arthur Webb of Fiji’s South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission published a research on the dynamic response of atolls and reef islands in the central Pacific. The research addressed Kiribati, and Webb and Kench discovered that the three largest urbanised islands in Kiribati—Betio, Bairiki, and Nanikai—increased by 30 percent (36 hectares), 16.3 percent (5.8 hectares), and 12.5 percent (0.8 hectares), respectively.

The Paul Kench and Arthur Webb research acknowledges that the islands are highly susceptible to sea level rise and concludes that: “This study did not assess the vertical growth of the island surface, nor does it indicate that the height of the islands has changed. Because land height has remained constant, the susceptibility of the majority of each island’s land area to submergence due to sea level rise has also remained constant, and these low-lying atolls remain instantly and highly susceptible to inundation or sea water flooding.”

Kiribati is described as having a low risk of cyclones in the 2011 Climate Change in the Pacific Report; nevertheless, in March 2015, Kiribati suffered floods and the loss of seawalls and coastal infrastructure as a consequence of Storm Pam, a Category 5 cyclone that ravaged Vanuatu. Kiribati is still vulnerable to cyclones, which may devastate the low-lying islands’ flora and soil.

Gradual sea-level rise also enables coral polyp activity to build atolls in tandem with sea-level increase. However, if sea level rises faster than coral development, or if polyp activity is harmed by ocean acidification, the durability of atolls and reef islands is less guaranteed.

The Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP) is a $5.5 million project initiated by the Kiribati national government with the assistance of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and the Japanese government. Later, Australia joined the alliance, contributing US $1.5 million to the cause. The initiative will last six years and will support efforts to decrease Kiribati’s susceptibility to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise by increasing climate change awareness, evaluating and preserving accessible water resources, and controlling inundation. Representatives from each of the inhabited atolls recognized significant climate changes that had occurred over the previous 20–40 years and suggested coping strategies to cope with these changes under four categories of urgency of need at the outset of the Adaptation Program. The initiative is currently concentrating on the most vulnerable sectors in the country’s most densely inhabited regions. Improving water supply management in and around Tarawa; coastal management protection measures such as mangrove re-plantation and public infrastructure protection; strengthening legislation to prevent coastal erosion; and population settlement planning to decrease personal hazards are among the initiatives.

Climate In Kiribati

From April through October, the environment is pleasant, with prevailing northeastern breezes and steady temperatures around 30 °C (86 °F). Western gales produce rain and cyclones from November to March.

The amount of precipitation varies greatly between islands. The annual average rainfall in the Gilbert Islands, for example, is 3,000 mm (120 in) in the north and 500 mm (20 in) in the south. The majority of these islands are located in the dry belt of the equatorial oceanic climate zone and are subject to lengthy droughts.

Demographics Of Kiribati

In 2010, the population of Kiribati was 103,058 people. The Gilbert Islands are home to the overwhelming majority of people (>90%), with more than 33 percent residing in an area of approximately 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi) on South Tarawa. Until recently, the majority of Kiribati’s inhabitants resided in villages with numbers ranging from 50 to 3,000 on the outlying islands. The majority of homes are constructed using materials derived from coconut and pandanus plants. Because frequent droughts and poor soil make large-scale agriculture unreliable, the islanders have mainly relied on the sea for a living and sustenance. The majority of them are outrigger sailors and fisherman. Copra plants provide a secondary source of income. In recent years, a significant number of people have relocated to Tarawa, the island’s more metropolitan capital. South Tarawa’s population has risen to 50,182 as a result of increased urbanization.

Ethnic groups

Kiribati’s indigenous people are known as I-Kiribati. The I-Kiribati are Micronesians by ethnicity. Archaeological evidence suggests that Austronesians first inhabited the islands thousands of years ago. Fijians, Samoans, and Tongans colonized the islands in the 14th century, diversifying the ethnic spectrum and introducing Polynesian language characteristics. Intermarriage among all ancestral tribes, on the other hand, has resulted in a population that is very homogenous in look and customs.

Religion

Kiribati’s main religion is Christianity, which was brought by missionaries in the nineteenth century. The populace is mainly Roman Catholic (56 percent), but the Kiribati Uniting Church has a sizable following (34 percent ). Many additional Protestant faiths are represented, including evangelical congregations. Kiribati (2.2 percent) has the Bahá’ Faith faith as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the end of 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) self-reported a membership of 17,472 (16.9 percent) with 26 congregations.

The Kiribati Uniting Church and the LDS Church both have significant physical presences in Kiribati, with both denominations having a considerable number of church structures, mostly in Batio and Bonriki.

Economy Of Kiribati

Kiribati has a scarcity of natural resources. At the time of independence, commercially viable phosphate resources on Banaba had been depleted. Copra and seafood currently account for the majority of production and exports. Kiribati is regarded as one of the world’s least developed nations.

Kiribati receives a significant percentage of its revenue from overseas in one way or another. Fishing permits, development aid, worker remittances, and tourism are among examples. Kiribati must import almost all of its basic commodities and manufactured goods due to its low domestic manufacturing capacity; it relies on these external sources of revenue for funding.

Kiribati’s economy benefits from foreign development aid initiatives. The European Union (A$9 million), the United Nations Development Programme (A$3.7 million), UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (A$100,000) were the multilateral donors providing development assistance in 2009. In 2009, Australia (A$11 million), Japan (A$2 million), New Zealand (A$6.6 million), Taiwan (A$10.6 million), and other donors contributed A$16.2 million, including technical support funds from the Asian Development Bank.

Australia (A$15 million), Taiwan (A$11 million), New Zealand (A$6 million), the World Bank (A$4 million), and the Asian Development Bank were the main contributors in 2010/2011.

Kiribati created a sovereign wealth fund in 1956 to serve as a wealth repository for the country’s phosphate mining revenues. The Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund was worth $400 million in 2008. As a consequence of the global financial crisis and exposure to failing Icelandic banks, RERF assets fell from A$637 million (420 percent of GDP) in 2007 to A$570.5 million (350 percent of GDP) in 2009. Furthermore, the Kiribati government used drawdowns to cover fiscal deficits throughout this time period.

The IMF country report on Kiribati’s economy said in May 2011: “After two years of decline, the economy rebounded in the second half of 2010, and inflation pressures eased.” It is expected to increase by 1.75 percent this year. Despite a decrease in copra output due to weather, private sector activity seems to have perked up, particularly in retail. Tourist arrivals increased by 20% compared to 2009, although from a very low basis. Despite rising global food and fuel costs, inflation has fallen from 2008 crisis highs into negative territory, indicating a significant appreciation of the Australian dollar, the country’s currency, and a drop in the global price of rice. Credit growth in the entire economy slowed in 2009 as the economy stagnated. However, as the recovery gathered momentum, it began to pick up in the second half of 2010.”

ANZ, a prominent Australian bank, has a presence on Kiribati via a number of branches and ATM units.

Things To Know Before Traveling To Kiribati

Language

English, along with the native I-Kiribati, is the official language of Kiribati. While English is widely spoken in South Tarawa, the I-Kiribati language is more prevalent the farther one travels from the city. The majority of people on Kiritimati Island speak English. Almost all Kiribatians also speak Gilbertese, which is derived from the name of the Gilbert Islands, which was called after Thomas Gilbert, the first European to find the islands.

Respect

Before going swimming, it’s a good idea to check with the landowner. There may be religiously significant stone figures that must be handled with care.

Entry Requirements For Kiribati

Visa & Passport for Kiribati

Nationals and citizens of the following countries are exempt from obtaining a visa before entering Kiribati if their intended stay is for 30 days or less: Belize, Federated States of Micronesia, Macao (only in respect of Macao Special Administrative Region Passport holders), Marshall Islands, Palau, Republic of China (Taiwan), Republic of South Korea.

Nationals and residents of the countries listed below are not required to acquire a visa before visiting Kiribati:

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Grenada, Greece, Hong Kong (only for holders of British National Overseas Passports and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passports), Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxemboug, Luxembourg

Honolulu, USA; Suva, Fiji; Hamburg, Germany; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, Korea; Auckland, New Zealand; and London, United Kingdom all have honorary consulates. Visas may also be acquired by writing to the Principal Immigration Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PO Box 68, Bairiki, Tarawa, KIRIBATI (Central Pacific). Caution: Do not apply directly to Tarawa within a couple of months of your departure date, or if you need your passport for any reason. Generally, it is preferable to contact the closest consulate overseas. It is not necessary for you to be a resident of the nation in which the consulate is situated.

Destinations in Kiribati

Regions in Kiribati

With the exception of Banaba (Ocean Island – 6km2, population c. 300), all of the major islands are divided into three groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, and the Phoenix Islands.

  • Gilbert Islands The western island chain, which includes Tarawa, is home to the overwhelming majority of Kiribati’s people.
  • Line Islands The most remote islands, with inhabitants on Kirimati (Christmas Island), Tabuaeran, and Teraina in the north.
  • Phoenix Islands With the exception of a few households on Kanton, the island is almost entirely deserted.

Accommodation & Hotels in Kiribati

The variety of lodging in Kiribati varies based on where you go in the nation.

South Tarawa

Marys Motel and the government-owned Otintaai Hotel are the two major hotels. Both include motel-style accommodations, as well as a restaurant and air conditioning. They are situated at various ends of South Tarawa, and your choice of where to stay is generally dependent on your activities while in South Tarawa.

There are also a number of smaller properties strewn around South Tarawa. The Kiribati National Tourism Offices website has a complete listing, including a map with locations.

These hotels may be extremely busy throughout the year, so it is best to book ahead of time.

North Tarawa

A trip to North Tarawa is the simplest and most convenient method to see Kiribati rural life. North Tarawa has a variety of guesthouses and traditional-style lodging.

Tabon te Keekee is the nearest alternative, providing traditional Kiribati lodging in an I-Kiribati family setting. It is located in Abatao, about 10-15 minutes north of the airport.

Biketawa Islet, operated by the Otintaai Hotel, provides traditional kia kia lodging. Meals and sleeping equipment, as well as boat transfers, may be organized in a similar manner to a retreat.

Abaokoro is home to a council guesthouse.

Gilbert Island Group and Council Guesthouses

The Outer Islands are Kiribati’s essence, yet not enough people take the time and effort to visit these isolated islands. Each has its own culture and tale to share about its past.

Each of the Gilbert Group’s outlying islands has at least one council guesthouse. Standards vary per organization, but they are often a combination of local type homes known as Kia Kias and open style guest rooms. Each guesthouse often features a common living room where meals are served, and the fee is about AUD30 per night, which includes three meals each day.

The amenities offered differ per island, but they are all in remote settlements, thus expectations should be adjusted appropriately. Typically, electricity will be provided in the evening and throughout the night. Food will mostly consist of local cuisine, and it is suggested that you bring anything else you may need. It is also advised to bring fresh drinking water with you. Most guesthouses are conveniently situated on the beach or causeway, making them an ideal place to stay for swimming and touring.

The Island Councils operate these guesthouses, and it is one of the council’s limited sources of income. Each municipality will usually have a vehicle and driver available for rent to assist you explore the island. Alternatively, many people will be eager to rent you motorbikes and scooters.

Kiritimati Island

There are a number of fishing lodges, guesthouses, and hotels to select from in this world-renowned bone fishing location. Accommodation is often rented in seven-night increments, and each lodge will provide you with the services of a fishing guide to help you in your excursions. Visit www.kiribatitourism.gov.ki for a complete list of hotel choices.

The hotels are designed for fisherman, and meals and activities are planned around your fishing day. Typically, meals are included in the price.

How To Travel To Kiribati

Get In - By plane

If through flights are too costly, fly to Fiji and then continue your journey from there. On the other hand, if you have a lot of money and time to spare, compare a round-the-world ticket on Oneworld or Star Alliance with the fare to Tarawa and add it in your schedule.

Tarawa and Kiritimati are served by Fiji Airways (Christmas Island). Tarawa is served by nonstop flights from Nadi (Fiji) twice a week, with connections from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and the United States, including Honolulu (with codeshares with Oneworld alliance members). Kiritimati is a stop on a weekly trip from Nadi to Honolulu. Again, connections with planes from New Zealand, Australia, and Europe are simple. If you use another airline to travel to Fiji, make sure it arrives in Nadi rather than Suva (unless you’re staying for a long and can get to the opposite side of the island).

Our Airline and Air Kiribati Services (previously Air Nauru) fly from Tarawa, Kiribati, to Nauru, Honiara, and Nadi. This service improves access to Tarawa and other Pacific countries.

Every two weeks, Air Marshall Islands runs a scheduled flight from Majuro to Tarawa, with a return trip on the same day. If the ticket is purchased in the Marshall Islands, the cost is USD330. They will not provide a one-way ticket unless you have evidence of an onward ticket or a residence/work permit in Kiribati/RMI. Air Marshall Islands email [email protected] Phone number is +692 625-3733, phoning is recommended since emails are often ignored.

How To Travel Around Kiribati

Get Around - By plane

For inter-island travel, Air Kiribati operates two turboprop aircraft. Flights to all of the Gilbert group’s Outer Islands are available on a regular basis.

Coral Sun Airways, a new domestic carrier, was also recently established. Coral Sun provides an alternate schedule to Air Kiribati and may also be chartered for private usage.

Internal flight reliability in Kiribati is increasing all the time, and tickets are quite low. When you arrive at your destination, you should reconfirm your return flight. Each airline has its own set of booking and confirmation criteria, which you should be acquainted with in order to have a trouble-free journey.

Get Around - By ship

You may inquire about ship connections within the Gilbert Islands at the port at Betio, South Tarawa.

Things To See in Kiribati

Kiribati offers some wonderful beach scenery, is a fantastic location for sailing or yachting, and several of the atolls are delightful to explore on foot or by bike. The lagoons are beautiful to look at, and the white sandy beaches and waving palm palms are characteristic of a vacation brochure scene. Traditional culture is still very much alive, especially on the outlying islands. The Kiribati people are usually warm and hospitable to tourists, and if you chance to be nearby, they will include you in their festivities.

Kiribati’s islands witnessed some of the fiercest combat of WWII, and relics of that conflict can still be found everywhere. Tarawa (particularly Betio), Butaritari, Abemama, and Banaba islands are home to the most visible WW2 sites, including as coastal defense cannons, bunkers, and pillboxes. Tanks, shipwrecks, amtracs, and aircraft wreckage may still be seen along the beaches of Tarawa and Butaritari, particularly at low tide. Take a guided tour to learn the entire tale behind the ruins.

The peaceful Phoenix Island Marine Protected Area (the world’s biggest marine protected area) is a treasure waiting to be found for anybody with an interest in aquatic life. It has some stunning scenery, including sandy beaches, coral islands, and brilliantly blue lagoons. The islands are a birdwatcher’s delight, and the undersea coral life is almost untouched. However, restricting the number of visitors is an express aim of the government. Gaining access to the islands is difficult, and although there are rumors of intentions to open the area up a little more for tourism reasons, you won’t be able to dive there just yet.

Food & Drinks in Kiribati

Food in Kiribati

Kiribati’s cuisine selection is limited. If a cargo of imported food has just arrived, purchase it now away since it won’t last long! The variety and quantity are always growing and improving, as is the number of supply vessels arriving.

While Western-style goods will always be somewhat restricted, the essentials are usually accessible. The supply of fruits and vegetables is restricted.

The I-main Kiribati’s food is fish and rice, which is reflected in many of Tarawa’s dining establishments. It is recommended to sample the local sashimi, which is delivered directly from the sea to your dish.

Western-style dinners are best available at Marys and the Otintaai hotels. There are also many Chinese eateries.

Drinks in Kiribati

The native beverage is toddy, which is produced from the sap of a coconut tree. This sweet toddy may then be matured for a few days into the alcoholic sour toddy that locals prefer. The original sweet toddy may also be made into a syrup known as Kamaimai. After that, the Kamaimai may be poured over sweet buns or ice cream.

Kava is also widely available across Kiribati, with a growing number of Kava establishments springing up on Tarawa.

Captains Bar in Betio and the Lagoon Club in Ambo are Tarawa’s two major bars. Friday evenings are dancing nights at the Otintaai. There is a restricted supply of wine and spirits, but there is a plentiful supply of cool beer.

Tarawa has just one nightclub, the Midtown, which is open till late.

A few of the Gilbert group’s Outer Islands do not sell alcohol.

Money & Shopping in Kiribati

The official currency is the Australian dollar. Larger shops can only be found on Tarawa or Kiritimati.

There are many local handicrafts to choose from. These are often produced by women’s organizations from the Gilbert group. The colorful shirts worn by the indigenous women known as Tibuta stand out. The Catholic Women’s Association offers weekly weaving and top-making courses.

ATMs may be found in Betio, Bairiki, and Bikenebeu. There is another one in the hospital. The airport also has a foreign exchange bureau. Kiribati is served by ANZ.

Except for the two hotels, most businesses will only take cash, since credit cards are seldom used.

On the Outer Islands, cash is the only currency accepted, and banking services are not accessible.

Kiritimati Island has both an ATM and a bank. London is the location of the branch.

The majority of businesses and stores only take cash. Credit cards are seldom utilized.

Culture Of Kiribati

Music

Kiribati folk music is mostly centered on chanting or other kinds of vocalization, accompanied by body percussion. In contemporary Kiribati, public performances are usually given by a seated chorus accompanied by a guitar. However, a wooden box is utilized as a percussion instrument during formal performances of the standing dance (Te Kaimatoa) or the hip dance (Te Buki). When hit simultaneously by a chorus of men seated around it, this box produces a hollow and echoing tone. Traditional songs are often about love, but there are also songs about competition, religion, children, patriotism, war, and weddings. Stick dances are often performed to accompany folklore and semi-historical tales. These stick dances, known as “tirere” (pronounced seerere), are only done at big festivals.

Dance

When compared to other types of Pacific island dance, Kiribati is distinguished by its focus on the dancer’s extended arms and rapid birdlike movement of the head. This bird-like form of Kiribati dance is represented by the Frigate bird (Fregata minor) on the Kiribati flag. Most dances are performed standing or sitting, with movement restricted and staggered. Smiling while dancing is usually seen as impolite in the context of Kiribati dance. This is because its origins were not simply as a form of entertainment, but also as a kind of storytelling and a showcase of the dancer’s talent, beauty, and endurance.

Sport

Kiribati has participated in the Commonwealth Games since 1998, and in the Summer Olympics since 2004. It sent three athletes to their first Olympics, two sprinters and a weightlifter. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, weightlifter David Katoatau won Gold in the 105 kg Group, giving Kiribati its first Commonwealth Games medal.

Kiribati’s national football team is an associate member of the Oceania Football Confederation but not of FIFA, the global football governing body. From 1979 through 2011, it competed in 10 Pacific Games matches, all of which it lost. The Bairiki National Stadium in Kiribati has a capacity of just 2500 people.

The Batio Soccer Field, which is next to the Bairiki National Stadium, is home to a variety of local sports clubs.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Kiribati

Stay Safe in Kiribati

Kiribati is a relatively safe location to visit. However, being outdoors after dark in Beito or along the beach in South Tarawa may be dangerous, particularly for lone ladies. However, almost all issues are caused by intoxicated men rather than professional criminals.

When going about, ordinary common sense applies.

On the roadways, caution should be used since traffic may include pigs, toddlers, dogs, and buses all competing for road space.

Stay Healthy in Kiribati

Do not consume water that has not been boiled or filtered. Chemical therapy is not advised since it may not be effective in preventing giardiasis. The lagoon (particularly near Beito) is highly polluted, which may cause the whole island section to stink at times. Before stepping out in the water at any place on South Tarawa, regardless of how tempting it seems, always ask first. This is also an excellent concept for other islands. Get a hepatitis A vaccine and make sure you’re up to date on all your other immunizations, ideally several weeks ahead of time. Mosquitoes may be extremely annoying at times, so apply insect repellent. Bring your own bug repellant and sunscreen, since neither is accessible locally. Also, don’t anticipate any necessary medicines to be accessible. (Some are, but you never know what they are or when they will be.)

There is no malaria, although dengue fever epidemics (mosquito-borne) do occur from time to time. Locally caught fish may cause food illness (ciguatera), therefore take additional precautions. Ciguatera cannot be avoided by boiling or freezing the fish. Even the tiniest cut, sore, or insect bite should be treated right once since they may quickly become infected.

Medical evacuation insurance is strongly advised for Kiribati. Many of the outlying islands lack an airport, making any kind of evacuation time-consuming and difficult.

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