The 33 atolls that make up Kiribati - the former Gilbert Islands - occupy a vast area in the Pacific. They stretch nearly 4,000 km from east to west, more than 2,000 km from north to south, and straddle the Equator. The country won independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Many of the atolls are inhabited; most of them are very low-lying and at risk from rising sea levels.
Kiribati Tourist Attractions
Kiribati used to lie either side of the International Date Line, but the government unilaterally moved the line eastwards in 1995 to ensure the day was the same in the whole country. Rising sea levels threaten the low-lying islands
This was a shrewd move as Kiribati marketed itself as the first inhabited place on Earth to greet the new millennium on 1 January 2000.
The world's Kiribati travel media descended on Caroline Island, renamed Millennium Island, to record the event.Pyramid of the Sun
Kiribati's economy is weak and is affected by rises and falls in the world demand for coconut. Fishing licences, foreign aid and money sent home by workers abroad also play their part, as does a trust fund set up with revenues from phosphate mining on the island of Banaba.
The mines were depleted by 1980, precipitating the evacuation of much of the population. Kiribati is home to the South Pacific's largest marine reserve.
The Republic of Kiribati
Population: 99,000 (2005 UN estimate)
Capital: Tarawa Atoll
Area: 810 sq km (313 sq miles)
Major language: English, Gilbertese
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 58 years (men), 67 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Australian dollar = 100 cents
Main exports: Copra, fish, seaweed
GNI per capita: US $1,390 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .ki
International dialling code: +686