Kiribati - Profile
- The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced "kiribass"), formerly the Gilbert Islands, is a group of more than 30 islands situated in the centre of the Pacific Ocean around the point where the international date line and the equator cross. Besides the 16 original Gilbert Islands, Kiribati also includes Banaba (Ocean Island), the eight Phoenix Islands, and eight of the eleven Line Islands. All of the islands are low atolls enclosing lagoons, rarely more than 12 ft (4 m) above sea level. The notable exception is Banaba, which is volcanic.
- Kiribati's future is threatened by rising sea levels.
- Little grows on these islands except coconut palms and not all of them are inhabited. Kiribati is very isolated, its small islands spread out over more than one million square miles of ocean.
- Visiting this sprawling archipelago reguires careful planning. There are now Ports of Entry in each of the major groups of islands; the Line Group, the Phoenix Group and Gilbert Island Group which includes the capital, Tarawa. This makes the task easier when planning to visit more than just the northern group of islands, as the the prevailing winds and currents are from the south. Their remoteness is what makes these islands so intriguing.
- Christmas Island (Kirimati) in particular is a convenient stopover point for boats on passage between Hawaii and French Polynesia. The site of former British nuclear tests, the island was handed over to Kiribati on that country's independence. The island is a sanctuary to millions of sea birds and access to the breeding areas is prohibited.
- Fanning Island (Tabuaerean), only 160 miles farther north, is a typical Pacific island, clean, welcoming and self-sufficient.
- The Line Islands, together with Washington, belong to Kiribati and their local names have been confused, and are often wrongly depicted in nautical publications. Their correct names are: Kirimati (Christmas), Fanning (Tabuaerean) and Teraina (Washington).
- Navigational aids are not very reliable and it is reported that most atolls are without lights after midnight.
- Most facilities available in Kiribati are concentrated on Tarawa which comprises several islands around a lagoon. Facilities on the other islands are basic with few imported goods and a limited selection of locally produced fruit and vegetables, but there is plenty of fish everywhere. Water is often scarce and can be a problem in the southern and central parts of the group.
The first crime against yachts reported to noonsite was in October 2011 when 3 yachts anchored in Tarawa were broken into and burgled whilst the owners were ashore during the daytime. See report here. These crimes are the first we know about in this safe and friendly island group, however they do indicate that cruisers should be wary, in populated areas, of leaving their boats when no other occupied yachts are nearby to keep an eye on things.
Most islands have an equatorial climate, while the islands to the extreme north and south of the group are tropical. November to April is the rainy season, with high humidity and stronger winds. Rainfall is not reliable and drought can be a problem for all the islands. The prevailing easterlies keep the climate pleasant, although temperatures can be high, 80-85°F (27-29°C) on average.
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