Country Summary

2022 population pyramid



The Gilbert Islands became a British protectorate in 1892 and a colony in 1915.  They were captured by the Japanese in the Pacific War in 1941. The islands of Makin and Tarawa were the sites of major US amphibious victories over entrenched Japanese garrisons in 1943. The Gilbert Islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and complete independence in 1979 under the new name of Kiribati. Kiribati joined the UN in 1999 and has been an active participant in international efforts to combat climate change.



total: 811 sq km
land: 811 sq km
water: 0 sq km


tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds

Natural resources

phosphate (production discontinued in 1979), coconuts (copra), fish

People and Society


115,372 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

I-Kiribati 95.78%, I-Kiribati/mixed 3.8%, Tuvaluan 0.2%, other 1.7% (2020 est.)


Gilbertese, English (official)


Roman Catholic 58.9%, Kiribati Uniting Church 21.2%, Kiribati Protestant Church 8.4%, Church of Jesus Christ 5.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.1%, Baha'i 2.1%, other 1.7% (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.02% (2023 est.)


Government type

presidential republic


name: Tarawa

Executive branch

chief of state: President Taneti MAAMAU (since 11 March 2016); Vice President Teuea TOATU (since 19 June 2019); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Taneti MAAMAU (since 11 March 2016); Vice President Teuea TOATU (since 19 June 2019)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Assembly or Maneaba Ni Maungatabu (46 seats; 44 members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two-rounds if needed; 1 member appointed by the Rabi Council of Leaders - representing Banaba Island, and 1 ex officio member - the attorney general; members serve 4-year terms)


Economic overview

small, growing, environmentally fragile, Pacific island economy; major financial support from remittances, aid, and phosphate mining fund; tourism and fishing industries; poor business climate; inadequate anticorruption efforts; poor fiscal management

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$249.64 million (2021 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$1,900 (2021 est.)

Agricultural products

coconuts, roots/tubers nes, bananas, vegetables, taro, tropical fruit, poultry, pork, nuts, eggs


fishing, handicrafts


$10.754 million (2021 est.)

Exports - partners

Thailand 53%, Philippines 17%, South Korea 10%, Japan 9% (2019)

Exports - commodities

fish and fish produces, ships, coconut oil, copra (2019)


$201.984 million (2021 est.)

Imports - partners

China 20%, Fiji 19%, Australia 12%, Taiwan 11%, South Korea 11%, New Zealand 7%, Japan 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, netting, raw sugar, rice, poultry meats (2019)

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.331 (2021 est.)

Page last updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2023