Kiribati, officially the Independent and the Sovereign Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. Kiribati is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, Banaba.
Kiribati's population today is slightly above the 2010 census population of 103,500. The nation has a population density of 135 people per square kilometer (350/sq mi), which is 73rd in the world. The country has just 811 square kilometers of land area, 186th in the world.
Over 90% of the population inhabits the Gilbert Islands, with over 33% of the population in an area of just 6.2 square miles on South Tarawa. Until very recently, the Kiribati people mostly lived in villages on the outer islands with populations of just 50 to 3,000. More citizens have moved to the urban island capital of Tarawa recently. The South Tarawa area has a population of more than 50,000.
Kiribati is now a disappearing nation -- literally. The coral island is just 6.5 feet above sea level and rising sea levels due to climate change are causing the island to become smaller each year and pushing the residents further inland.
The native people of the nation are the I-Kiribati, who are ethnically Micronesians. Archaeological evidence indicates Austronesians originally inhabited the islands thousands of years ago, although Fijians, Tongans, and Samoans invaded around the 14th century, introducing new ethnic diversity. Despite this, Kiribati has a fairly homogeneous population.
The I-Kiribati speak an Oceanic language, Gilbertese, but English is also an official language. The main religion is Christianity, which was introduced by missionaries in the 1800's. 56% of the population is Roman Catholic while 34% is Congregationalist Protestant.
Kiribati has a low life expectancy rate of just 63 for women and 57 for men with many health problems caused by the consumption of semi-raw seafood, bacterial contamination of food, and little storage. Just 10 years ago, up to 7% of the population was treated each year for food poisoning in a hospital.