The Independent and Sovereign Republic of Kiribati, formerly the Gilbert Islands, is a nation-state in the Pacific Ocean that consists of 32 atolls and one coral island, which are spread over 1.35 million square miles (3.5 million square kilometers), a vast area of sea, making traveling between the various parts of the country difficult.

The main island of Tarawa had been inhabited by Micronesians possibly for a few 1,000 years until the arrival of the first Europeans in 1520. In 1820, the island chain was named the Gilbert Islands, after Thomas Gilbert, a British naval captain who had been in the region in 1788 but had never landed. The first British settlers arrived in 1837, with some islands being used by whaling vessels. It was not ...

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