General issues: Republic 1979-Present
Country name on general issues: Kiribati
Currency: 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 1979-Present
Population: 57 100 in 1979, 105 700 in 2015
Political history Kiribati
Kiribati is an island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean. The native population is Micronesian. Europeans first explored the islands on sporadic visits in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In the 19th century whalers and coconut traders would stop at the islands. It was not until 1892 that the British established a permanent presence on the islands proclaiming a protectorate over the Gilbert Islands. In the same year the protectorate was extended to include the Ellice Islands – now Tuvalu – thus forming the protectorate of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands. The Gilbert & Ellice Islands were annexed as a British colony in 1916.
Between 1900 and 1972, several island groups that were previously administered by the High Commissioner of the British Western Pacific Islands were attached to the Gilbert & Ellice Islands: Banaba in 1900, the Northern Line Islands between 1916 and 1919, the Phoenix Islands in 1937 and, finally, the Central and Southern Line Islands in 1972. Part of the Ellice, Phoenix and Line Islands were disputed by the United States until the United Sates relinquished its claims in 1979.
During WWII, the Gilbert Islands were occupied by Japan between 1941 and 1943 and Banaba until 1945. Since the 1960’s, the Gilbert & Ellice Islands gradually moved towards independence. As part of the process, by way of a referendum, the Ellice Islands voted for a separate administration. Upon gaining their separate administration in 1976, the Ellice Islands were renamed Tuvalu. The Gilbert Islands gained self government in 1977 and independence as the republic of Kiribati in 1979. Kiribati is a member of the British Commonwealth until today. From independence until today, Kiribati has been a stable democracy.
Economically, Kiribati is one of the least developed countries in the Pacific. In terms of per capita GDP it ranks 206th out of 230 countries in the world. Aside from subsistence agriculture and fishing, the production of copra from coconut plantations developed in colonial times, the sale of fishing licences to other countries, and remittances from expatriots, are the main sources of income. The vast majority of population – 90% – resides in the Gilbert Islands, mainly on the Tarawa Atoll – over 30%. Only some of the Phoenix and Line Islands have a small population.
Postal history Kiribati
The first postal services were set up in the Gilbert & Ellice Islands in 1911. In the Ellice Islands, the stamps of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands were superseded by the issues of Tuvalu in 1976, and in the Gilbert Islands by those of the Gilbert Islands in 1976 and those of Kiribati in 1979. Since independence, Kiribati has issued stamps with themes of national interest and a significant number of stamps with themes aimed at the thematic collectors market.