Kiribati is another bunch of islands (atolls, to be specific) dispersed by many kilometers, whose main languages are English and Gilbertese, named for the British Captain Thomas Gilbert, the man who sighted the islands for the first time. Actually, the name Kiribati is the local pronunciation of Gilbert (like Fitzcarraldo was the pronunciation of Fitzgerald to the natives). Oddly, the name is pronounced Kiribas, as the 'ti' sound in Kiribati names equates to 's' for English-speakers. The islands were occupied by the Japanese during World War II. One of the bloodiest battles on the Pacific theater, the Battle of Tarawa, took place in Kiribati. Some of the islands were used later as testing ground for nuclear weapons. In 1978, the Ellice Islands split and became Tuvalu. Kiribatiís independence started on 1979. The country has some problems with the excess of population: while itís not THAT populous (100,800 as of 2010), the islands are too small, and considering that almost all the people live in the central islands, theyíre starting to lack some space to breathe. They also moved the International Date Line to the east (it passed through the middle of the country before), causing some controversy, but also attracting tourism (the first country to enter the third millennium! Yay!) According to global warming estimates, if the sea levels keep rising, the country will very likely disappear due to the very low altitude of all the islands. Thatís why the government is trying to convince Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to accept all the countryís inhabitants as refugees in the eventuality.
Kiribati in fiction :
- The IL-2 Sturmovik expansion Pacific Fighters features the American and Japanese aerial operations during the Battle of Tarawa in 1943.
- The first mission of Call of Duty: World at War takes place on Makin island.
- Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault has an entire chapter set on Makin during the raid by Marine Raiders in August 1942.
The I-Kiribati flag
The flag is based on its old charge as a British colony. The flag shows a golden frigatebird, symbolizing freedom, flying toward the red sky over the sun rising from the ocean. The three white waves on the blue ocean stand for the main island groups — the Gilbert, Line and Phoenix Islands — and the sun's 17 rays stand for the sixteen islands of the Gilbert Group — Abaiang, Abemama, Aranuka, Arorae, Beru, Butaritari, Kuria, Maiana, Makin, Marakei, Nikunau, Nonouti, Onotoa, Tabiteuea, Tamana and Tarawa — as well as Banaba Island.