Traveling Luck for Kiribati

Kiribati is located in Oceania, group of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the Equator; the capital Tarawa is about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia; note - on 1 January 1995, Kiribati proclaimed that all of its territory lies in the same time zone as its Gilbert Islands group (GMT +12) even though the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands under its jurisdiction lie on the other side of the International Date Line.

Land in Kiribati is mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs.

I-Kiribati land covers an area of 811 square kilometers which is four times the size of Washington, DC

As for the I-Kiribati climate; tropical; marine, hot and humid, moderated by trade winds.

I-Kiribati (singular and plural) speak I-Kiribati, English (official).

I-Kiribati National Map

I-Kiribati Map

Regions of Kiribati

The Gilbert Islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and complete independence in 1979 under the new name of Kiribati. The US relinquished all claims to the sparsely inhabited Phoenix and Line Island groups in a 1979 treaty of friendship with Kiribati.


Kiribati Country Profile

A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence from the UK in 1979. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. The economy has fluctuated widely in recent years. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of GDP. The financial sector is at an early stage of development as is the expansion of private sector initiatives. Foreign financial aid from UK, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China equals about 20% of GDP. Remittances from seamen on merchant ships abroad account for more than $5 million each year. Kiribati receives around $15 million annually for the government budget from an Australian trust fund.

I-Kiribati natural resources include phosphate (production discontinued in 1979)

21 of the 33 islands are inhabited; Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Makatea in French Polynesia, and Nauru

I-Kiribati religion is Roman Catholic 52%, Protestant (Congregational) 40%, some Seventh-Day Adventist, Muslim, Baha'i, Latter-day Saints, Church of God (1999).

Natural hazards in Kiribati include typhoons can occur any time, but usually November to March; occasional tornadoes; low level of some of the islands make them very sensitive to changes in sea level.

Travel Advice on Kiribati

Kiribati

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Natural Disasters and Contact Details section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • The British High Commission in Tarawa closed on 31 March 2005. Routine consular services for British nationals are provided by the Australian High Commission in Tarawa. The British High Commission in Fiji is responsible for non-routine consular matters.  Please see the General section of this travel advice for more details.

  • Swimming in south Tarawa Lagoon is not advisable due to pollution; extreme caution is recommended on ocean-side reefs.

  • The threat from terrorism in Kiribati is low but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Tropical cyclones are common in Kiribati from the beginning of November until the end of April. Please see Hurricanes.

  • Only a handful of British nationals visit Kiribati each year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  We are not aware of any British nationals who have required consular assistance in Kiribati in the past year.  However, you should be aware that there is some petty theft and you should take care with personal possessions; whilst women travelling on their own should exercise caution, particularly at night.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before leaving UK.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Incidents of petty theft occur.  Women travelling on their own should exercise caution to ensure their safety.

Political Situation

Kiribati Country Profile
Road Safety
You may hire a motorcar using a full, clean UK driving licence.  Intending residents should present their UK licence through their employer to obtain a Kiribati driving licence.
Driving standards are reasonable but buses can be dangerously overloaded at times.  Exercise caution and do not board if you think this is the case.  Services are frequent on Tarawa until about 2100 hours.
Sea Safety
You should not swim in the lagoon in south Tarawa as it is highly polluted.  You should also exercise extreme caution when swimming in the sea around Kiribati, as there are very strong rip tides along coast and reef areas.  Suitable safety equipment should be worn at all times during boating trips.  Squalls can occur at very short notice.  A number of people have drowned in recent years.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Possession or trafficking in narcotics is a serious offence under the Kiribati penal code and prison sentences may be heavy.
Homosexual relations are illegal.
Local laws forbid nudity and revealing swimming costumes.
Kiribati operates a strict quarantine regime for the import of food, plants and animal (including fish) products, carriage of which should be declared by visitors on arrival.  Further information on restricted or prohibited imports can be obtained from :-
Biosecurity Services
SPC-Plant Protection Service
Private Mail Bag
Suva, Fiji Islands.
Tel: (679) 3370 733
Fax: (679) 3370 021
Email:  pps@spc.int
Website:  http://www.spc.int/pps/
On departure, (prior to any transit of Australia or New Zealand) you should be aware that some local handicrafts (including straw products and shells) may be subject to strict Australian/NZ import regulations.  Phyto-sanitary Certificates should be obtained when items are purchased in Kiribati.  Items should be declared but may nevertheless be confiscated by the Authorities concerned. 


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Tourist/visitor entry visas are not required from British passport holders provided you hold a return/onward ticket and sufficient funds for the intended visit.  As a UK passport holder you will normally be granted a one month stay which can be extended, on application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration in Bairiki, for additional one month periods for a maximum three additional months, provided your passport remains valid.  British passport holders arriving for employment must obtain a visa in advance by arrangement with the prospective employer.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration, PO Box 68,Bairiki, Tarawa, Kiribati. Telephone:+686 21342, Fax: +686 21466.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before leaving UK.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake, including cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance particularly if you plan to engage in adventure sports.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.
Medical facilities at the general hospital in Tarawa are modest and elsewhere generally consist of island clinics staffed by nurse practitioners.
Pharmaceuticals and prescription medicines are not generally available and all requirements for existing medical conditions should be brought with you.
You should use only bottled water.  Avoid eating local shellfish or lagoon fish on Tarawa.
Dengue fever is prevalent in Kiribati.  It is a mosquito-borne infection found in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world.  Symptoms are a severe flu-like illness, but infection is seldom fatal.  There is currently no vaccine to prevent infection.  You should take normal precautions against mosquitoes.
For more information, please consult the World Health Organisation's Dengue fact sheet (under `health topics') at the following website:  http://www.who.int/topics/avian_influenza/en.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk
NATURAL DISASTERS
Tropical cyclones are common in Kiribati from the beginning of November until the end of April.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) You can also access the National Hurricane Centre for updates.  Please see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a tropical cyclone.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see What We Can Do To Help
The British High Commission in Tarawa closed on 31 March 2005.  There is no longer any British consular representation in Kiribati.  Routine consular services for British nationals are provided by the Australian High Commission in Tarawa (see contact details). The British High Commission in Fiji is responsible for non-routine consular matters.
If you intend to stay for an extended period in Kiribati, you are strongly advised to register with the Australian High Commission in Tarawa on arrival.  You should also inform the British High Commission in Suva of your arrival.

If you require a new passport, application forms can be downloaded from the Internet.  To avoid unnecessary delays, you are advised to contact the British High Commission in Suva (Fiji) before submitting your completed passport application form to the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand (please see the New Zealand Travel Advice for contact details). Where possible, you are advised to apply at least two months before your passport is due to expire. You will be allowed to retain your old passport whilst waiting for the replacement to be issued and returned.

In the event of an emergency, the Australian High Commission in Tarawa can issue emergency travel documents and will ask you to complete a lost/stolen report form.  We strongly advise you to keep a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport, to avoid any complications.
Address: Australian High Commission
Bairiki
Tarawa
Kiribati
Telephone:    (686) 21 184
Facsimile:       (686) 21 904
Postal address
PO Box 77
Bairiki, Tarawa
Office hours: GMT
2000 - 0430
Local time:
0800-1630