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. Kiribatis independence started in 1979.
The country has some problems with the excess of population: while its 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, theyre 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 as the first part of the world to celebrate the new millennium.
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. Thats why the government is trying to convince Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to accept all the countrys 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 prologue and final level, meanwhile, are set on Betio during the Battle of Tarawa.
- Rising Storm has a map set on Betio, which is set during the Battle of Tarawa. Available factions for this map are the US 2nd Marine Division and the IJN Special Landing Forces.
- Battlestations: Pacific has the 7th level set during the Battle of Tarawa in late 1943, which depicts American Marine and Navy units repelling Japanese air attacks.
The I-Kiribati flag