Kiribati

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Kiribati
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Kiribati
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Map of Kiribati
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Photos of Kiribati
 
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OF KIRIBATI
 

Introduction

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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. The US relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix and Line Island groups in a 1979 treaty of friendship with Kiribati.
 
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Geography

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Oceania, group of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the Equator, as well as the International Date Line; the capital Tarawa is about half way between Hawaii and Australia
 
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1 25 N, 173 00 E
 
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total: 811 sq km
country comparison to the world: 187
land: 811 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes three island groups - Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands
 
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four times the size of Washington, DC
 
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0 km
 
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1,143 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
 
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tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds
 
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mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs
 
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lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation on Banaba 81 m
 
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phosphate (production discontinued in 1979)
 
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arable land: 2.74%
permanent crops: 47.95%
other: 49.31% (2005)
 
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NA
 
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typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low level of some of the islands make them sensitive to changes in sea level
 
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heavy pollution in lagoon of south Tarawa atoll due to heavy migration mixed with traditional practices such as lagoon latrines and open-pit dumping; ground water at risk
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
 
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21 of the 33 islands are inhabited; Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Makatea in French Polynesia, and Nauru; Kiribati is the only country in the world to fall into all four hemispheres (northern, southern, eastern, and western)
 
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People and Society

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noun: I-Kiribati (singular and plural)
adjective: I-Kiribati
 
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Micronesian 98.8%, other 1.2% (2000 census)
 
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I-Kiribati, English (official)
 
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Roman Catholic 55%, Protestant 36%, Mormon 3.1%, Baha'i 2.2%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.9%, other 1.8% (2005 census)
 
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100,743 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 195
 
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0-14 years: 33.9% (male 17,385/female 16,750)
15-64 years: 62.4% (male 30,598/female 32,259)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 1,461/female 2,290) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 22.5 years
male: 21.7 years
female: 23.4 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.249% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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22.73 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
 
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7.4 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119
 
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-2.85 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
 
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urban population: 44% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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TARAWA (capital) 43,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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9 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 145
 
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total: 38.89 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 64
male: 40.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 37.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 64.39 years
country comparison to the world: 171
male: 62.03 years
female: 66.88 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.78 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
 
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3.3% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 175
 
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0.297 physicians/1,000 population (2006)
country comparison to the world: 138
 
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1.8 beds/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 111
 
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improved:
urban: 77% of population
rural: 50% of population
total: 62% of population
unimproved:
urban: 23% of population
rural: 50% of population
total: 38% of population (2000)
 
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improved:
urban: 47% of population
rural: 22% of population
total: 33% of population
unimproved:
urban: 53% of population
rural: 78% of population
total: 67% of population (2000)
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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50.6% (2006)
country comparison to the world: 4
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2008)
 
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total: 11.3%
country comparison to the world: 95
male: 11.8%
female: 10% (2005)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Republic of Kiribati
conventional short form: Kiribati
local long form: Republic of Kiribati
local short form: Kiribati
note: pronounced keer-ree-bahss
former: Gilbert Islands
 
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republic
 
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name: Tarawa
geographic coordinates: 1 19 N, 172 58 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: on 1 January 1995, Kiribati proclaimed that all of its territory was in the same time zone as its Gilbert Islands group (UTC +12) even though the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands under its jurisdiction were on the other side of the International Date Line
 
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3 units; Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands; note - in addition, there are 6 districts (Banaba, Central Gilberts, Line Islands, Northern Gilberts, Southern Gilberts, Tarawa) and 21 island councils - one for each of the inhabited islands (Abaiang, Abemama, Aranuka, Arorae, Banaba, Beru, Butaritari, Kanton, Kiritimati, Kuria, Maiana, Makin, Marakei, Nikunau, Nonouti, Onotoa, Tabiteuea, Tabuaeran, Tamana, Tarawa, Teraina)
 
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12 July 1979 (from the UK)
 
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Independence Day, 12 July (1979)
 
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12 July 1979
 
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English common law supplemented by customary law
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Anote TONG (since 10 July 2003); Vice President Teima ONORIO; note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Anote TONG (since 10 July 2003); Vice President Teima ONORIO
cabinet: 12-member cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the House of Parliament
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elections: the House of Parliament chooses the presidential candidates from among its members and then those candidates compete in a general election; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for two more terms); election last held on 17 October 2007 (next to be held in 2011); vice president appointed by the president
election results: Anote TONG 63.7%, Nabuti MWEMWENIKARAWA 32.9%
 
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unicameral House of Parliament or Maneaba Ni Maungatabu (46 seats; 44 members elected by popular vote, 1 ex officio member - the attorney general, 1 nominated by the Rabi Council of Leaders (representing Banaba Island); members serve four-year terms)
elections: legislative elections were held in two rounds - the first round on 22 August 2007 and the second round on 30 August 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA, other 2 (includes attorney general)
 
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Court of Appeal; High Court; 26 Magistrates' courts; judges at all levels are appointed by the president
 
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Boutokaan Te Koaua Party or BTK [Taberannang TIMEON]; Maneaban Te Mauri Party or MTM [Teburoro TITO]; Maurin Kiribati Pati or MKP; National Progressive Party or NPP [Dr. Harry TONG]
note: there is no tradition of formally organized political parties in Kiribati; they more closely resemble factions or interest groups because they have no party headquarters, formal platforms, or party structures
 
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NA
 
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ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, FAO, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, ITU, ITUC, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO
 
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Kiribati does not have an embassy in the US; there is an honorary consulate in Honolulu
 
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the US does not have an embassy in Kiribati; the US ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Kiribati
 
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the upper half is red with a yellow frigate bird flying over a yellow rising sun, and the lower half is blue with three horizontal wavy white stripes to represent the Pacific ocean; the white stripes represent the three island groups - the Gilbert, Line, and Phoenix Islands; the 17 rays of the sun represent the 16 Gilbert Islands and Banaba (formerly Ocean Island); the frigate bird symbolizes authority and freedom
 
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frigatebird
 
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name: "Teirake kaini Kiribati" (Stand Up, Kiribati)
lyrics/music: Urium Tamuera IOTEBA
note: adopted 1979
 
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Economy

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A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources and is one of the least developed Pacific Islands. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence from the UK in 1979. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. The economy has fluctuated widely in recent years. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of GDP. Private sector initiatives and a financial sector are in the early stages of development. Foreign financial aid from the EU, UK, US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UN agencies, and Taiwan accounts for 20-25% of GDP. Remittances from seamen on merchant ships abroad account for more than $5 million each year. Kiribati receives around $15 million annually for the government budget from an Australian trust fund.
 
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$618 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 211
$606.7 million (2009 est.)
$611.3 million (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$147 million (2010 est.)
 
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1.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
-0.7% (2009 est.)
-1.1% (2008 est.)
 
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$6,200 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
$6,200 (2009 est.)
$6,300 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 8.9%
industry: 24.2%
services: 66.8% (2004)
 
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7,870 economically active, not including subsistence farmers (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 217
 
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agriculture: 2.7%
industry: 32%
services: 65.3% (2000)
 
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2% (1992 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
 
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NA%
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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revenues: $55.52 million
expenditures: $59.71 million (FY05)
 
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37.8% of GDP (FY05)
country comparison to the world: 54
 
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-2.8% of GDP (FY05)
country comparison to the world: 92
 
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0.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
 
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$NA
 
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copra, taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, vegetables; fish
 
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fishing, handicrafts
 
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NA%
 
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22 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 211
 
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20.46 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
 
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300 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
 
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284 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
 
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-$21 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
 
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$17 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
 
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copra 62%, coconuts, seaweed, fish
 
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$62 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 216
 
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foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, miscellaneous manufactured goods, fuel
 
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$10 million (1999 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
 
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Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.0902 (2010)
1.2822 (2009)
1.2059 (2008)
1.2137 (2007)
1.3285 (2006)
 
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Communications

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4,100 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 217
 
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10,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 212
 
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general assessment: generally good quality national and international service
domestic: wire line service available on Tarawa and Kiritimati (Christmas Island); connections to outer islands by HF/VHF radiotelephone; wireless service available in Tarawa since 1999
international: country code - 686; Kiribati is being linked to the Pacific Ocean Cooperative Telecommunications Network, which should improve telephone service; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
 
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1 television broadcast station that provides about 1 hour of local programming Monday-Friday; multi-channel TV packages provide access to Australian and US stations; 1 government-operated radio station broadcasting on AM, FM, and shortwave (2009)
 
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.ki
 
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31 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 214
 
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7,800 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 204
 
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Transportation

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19 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 138
 
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total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2010)
 
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total: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 4 (2010)
 
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total: 670 km (2000)
country comparison to the world: 190
 
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5 km (small network of canals in Line Islands) (2007)
country comparison to the world: 108
 
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total: 71
country comparison to the world: 61
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 32, chemical tanker 6, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 11, refrigerated cargo 15
foreign-owned: 51 (China 28, Hong Kong 1, Italy 1, Singapore 11, South Korea 2, Taiwan 5, Turkey 3) (2010)
 
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Betio (Tarawa Atoll), Canton Island, English Harbor
 
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Military

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no regular military forces (establishment prevented by the constitution); Police Force (2011)
 
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males age 16-49: 25,190 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 18,364
females age 16-49: 20,302 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 1,132
female: 1,120 (2010 est.)
 
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NA
 
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Kiribati does not have military forces; defense assistance is provided by Australia and NZ
 
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Transnational Issues

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none
 
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current situation: Kiribati is a source country for girls subjected to sex trafficking; crew members on Korean and perhaps other foreign fishing vessels in Kiribati or in its territorial waters exploit prostituted children on board their vessels
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Kiribati does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making efforts to do so; the government does not define labor or sex trafficking offenses in Kiribati law, makes no efforts to proactively identify victims of trafficking or establish formal procedures for the identification of trafficking victims, nor does it refer these victims to protective services, investigate or prosecute any suspected trafficking offenders, or work with NGOs or international organizations to provide protective services to victims (2011)
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