Kiribati is an island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean comprising thirty-three atolls dispersed over millions of square kilometres. Although the islands aren’t large, Kiribati has a total population of over 100,000.
And if you’ve ever wondered where the name Kiribati comes from, it’s the local version of Gilberts. Yes, because we used to call these islands the Gilbert Islands, after the British captain Thomas Gilbert, who sighted the islands back in 1788. Although, we didn’t start calling them that until the late nineteenth century. It was a Russian and a French captain who started the fashion.
British settlers seem to have arrived in 1837. By 1892, we were worried about the possibility of German and American influence spreading in the Gilbert Islands and Captain Davis, on board HMS Royalist, toured the atolls establishing a British Protectorate and helping sort out assorted local disputes.
There were bitter battles here in the Second World War between the Japanese and Americans, in particular the Battle of Tarawa.
Kiribati became independent in 1979.