- a republic in the central Pacific Ocean, on the equator, comprising 33 islands. 263 sq. mi. (681 sq. km). Capital: Tarawa.
- an independent republic in the W Pacific: comprises 33 islands including Banaba (Ocean Island), the Gilbert and Phoenix Islands, and eight of the Line Islands; part of the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands until 1975; became self-governing in 1977 and gained full independence in 1979 as the Republic of Kiribati; a member of the Commonwealth. Official languages: English, I-Kiribati (Gilbertese) is widely spoken. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: Australian dollar. Capital: Bairiki islet, in Tarawa atoll. Pop: 103 248 (2013 est). Area: 684 sq km (264 sq miles)
island nation in the Pacific, formerly Gilbert Islands and named for Capt. Thomas Gilbert, who arrived there 1788 after helping transport the first shipload of convicts to Australia. At independence in 1979 it took the current name, which represents the local pronunciation of Gilbert. Christmas Island, named for the date it was discovered by Europeans, is in the chain and now goes by Kiritimati, likewise a local pronunciation of the English name.