KIRIBATI

Pronounced Kir-i-bas

Kiribati is a group of 33 low lying coral islands scattered over an area of around 5 million square kilometres, straddling the equator.

They are stereotypical tropical islands with long white beaches, palms, lagoons, reefs and very hot sun. Inhabitants are Micronesian, population is around 60,000.

Discovered officially in 1764 by the British, but it is likely that the Spanish had visited in the 16th century. Britain held a protectorate over them from 1892, when they were the Gilbert of the Gilbert and Ellis Islands.

Heavy fighting during WW2, most notable the Battle of Tarawa, saw heavy casualties on both sides.

In 1976 the Ellis Islanders separated to become Tuvalu, full independence came in 1979 when the name of the Gilbert Islands became Kiribati.

Line Islands, Kiribati