Gilbert Islands

Gilbert Islands
former name of Kiribati.

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Group of 16 coral atolls (pop., 1995: 65,939), part of the island nation of Kiribati, western Pacific Ocean.

The islands, including Tarawa, the largest, occupy a total land area of 105 sq mi (272 sq km). The British visited them in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in 1892 they became a British protectorate. In 1916 they became part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands crown colony. They were occupied by Japanese forces from 1941 to 1943 and saw heavy fighting. Made a separate territory in 1976, they became part of Kiribati in 1979.

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▪ islands, Kiribati
formerly  Kingsmill  

      group of 16 coral islands and atolls, part of Kiribati, in the west-central Pacific Ocean 2,800 miles (4,500 km) northeast of Australia. The low-lying islands—Makin, Butaritari (Butaritari Atoll), Marakei, Abaiang (Abaiang Atoll), Tarawa, Maiana, Abemama (Abemama Atoll), Kuria, Aranuka, Nonouti, Tabiteuea, Beru, Nikunau, Onotoa, Tamana, and Arorae—are covered with coconut palm and pandanus. Average annual rainfall varies from 120 inches (3,000 mm) in the north to 40 inches (1,000 mm) in the south.

      The indigenous people of the Gilberts are Micronesians. Spanish explorers may have sighted some of the islands as early as the 16th century. In 1765 the British commodore John Byron (Byron, John) discovered Nikunau; in 1788 Capt. Thomas Gilbert sighted Tarawa and Capt. John Marshall discovered Aranuka. Other Europeans discovered the remaining islands between 1799 and 1826. The name Gilbert Islands was given to the group in the 1820s. In 1892 Capt. E.H.M. Davis proclaimed the Gilberts a British protectorate, and in 1916 the group became part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. The islands were occupied by Japanese forces in 1941, but the Japanese were driven out by Allied troops in 1943. The islands became part of the independent Republic of Kiribati in 1979. (The name Kiribati is the Gilbertese spelling of Gilberts.)

      The islets of South Tarawa that house the seats of government in Kiribati—Bairiki (executive), Ambo (legislative), and Betio (judicial)—have developed as semiurban communities. Elsewhere on the islands the people live in traditional villages. The economy is based mainly on farming and fishing, and the major export is copra. Total land area 108 square miles (280 square km). Pop. (2005 prelim.) 83,382.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Gilbert Islands — Admin ASC 1 Code Orig. name Gilbert Islands Country and Admin Code KI.01 KI …   World countries Adminstrative division ASC I-II

  • Gilbert Islands — noun a group of islands in Micronesia to the southwest of Hawaii; formerly part of the British colony of Gilbert and Ellice Islands until it became part of the Republic of Kiribati in 1979 • Members of this Region: ↑Tarawa, ↑Makin, ↑Tarawa Makin… …   Useful english dictionary

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