THE REPUBLIC OF Kiribati consists of 33 atolls in three island groups: the Gilbert, Phoenix, and Line groups, located between 1 degree north longitude and 173 degrees east latitude. The land area of 313 sq. mi. (810.5 sq. km.) is scattered over 1.4 million sq. mi. (3.5 million sq. km.) of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), extending 2,485 mi. (4,000 km.) from west to east and about 1,243 mi. (2,000 km.) from north to south. The natural resource endowment is poor. Only Banaba is volcanic; the other 32 islands are low-lying coral atolls with soils of very poor quality and not useful for agricultural production. Soils are highly alkaline, calcareous, and shallow, with low water-holding capacity, little organic material, and few available nutrients. Drinking water is ...

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