Population: 110,356 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 811 sq km
Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $3,600 (2007 est.)
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.
Economy – Overview
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. Private sector initiatives and a financial sector are in the early stages of development. Foreign financial aid from UK, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China equals more than 10% 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.
Major Export Commodities: copra 62%, coconuts, seaweed, fish
Remittances: US $7 million (2006)
Human Development Index 2007/2008 ranking: Not ranked
Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Major development partners include Japan, the European Community, and New Zeland.
Total External Debt: US $10 million (1999 est.)
United Nations Membership Date: 14 September 1999
CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov
World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org
Human Development Report 2007/2008.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org
Updated June 2008