Kiribati Overview

Animals and Plants

What is growing in Kiribati?

The subsoil of the island is very permeable. That’s why the rain seeps away quickly. A distinctive and diverse flora cannot develop under these conditions, there is no water for this. One speaks of species poverty on the islands.

Coconut palms grow, which are not very demanding and also get along for a while without water, pandanus trees, which we also know as “screw trees”, the breadfruit tree with its fruits weighing up to two kilos and manioc.

What is it that lives in Kiribati?

Even if the flora is not very diverse, there is a colorful bird life here. Frigate birds, gannets, shearwaters and seagulls live in Kiribati. The underwater world is just as diverse and, above all, very colorful.

Domestic and farm animals were primarily introduced by the Europeans. Rats point to the islands’ Polynesian roots. Flying fox and bats are among the other rare mammal species in Kiribati.


What do the people of Kiribati live on?

There are no natural resources in Kiribati, so all important raw materials have to be imported. Agriculture is not that easy either, because the soils are poor in nutrients and contain a lot of salt, conditions that most plants do not appreciate. What is grown and exported is copra, the dried meat of the coconut.

The pandanus fruit as well as the fruits of the breadfruit tree and taro are just as important. Other fruits such as bananas, papayas, limes and melons grow in parts of the islands, especially in the regions of the northern Gilbert Islands, because it rains a lot here.

As a country located in Oceania, Kiribati has to import important everyday items. Above all, this includes foods such as milk, rice, meat, sugar – all of this has to come into the country somehow.

Fishing plays a big role

Fishing plays an important role. Many residents work on the large fishing fleets and transfer their income back home. Kiribati is grappling with environmental problems. Since some licenses for fishing have been sold and now many foreign ships and even large fleets fish off the coasts of Kiribati, the local people often fail to find fish. The sea has already been fished empty with the large fishing nets.

Many of the residents of Kiribati have emigrated for this reason and regularly send money to their families. Kiribati could not survive economically without help from abroad.

The few tourists who visit the country are not enough to really get the economy going.

Everyday Life

How do you live in Kiribati?

Many people live with the whole family in small residential or wooden huts. Some of these huts are also built on stilts, especially if they were built near the sea. Many people are now drawn to the capital South Tawara. Hut after hut is crowded here, because there isn’t that much space. Waste is becoming a major problem because there is no waste disposal that works.

Introduce yourself…

… if you lived on one of the islands of Kiribati as a child, then maybe a simple wooden hut would be your home. Maybe it would even be right by the sea with a view of the blue Pacific. In the morning you would first have to help your mother around the house, sweep the hut and go with your father to collect shells on the beach very early. But then your parents would send you to elementary school, which is not far from your home. Your sister had to walk to the well for half an hour before school to get fresh water. The well in front of the house is unfortunately too salty. It has not always been this way; this problem has only existed for two years. Before that, there was always fresh water in the village well.

You have fun at school. There you will meet your friends, who usually had to help their parents with work before school.

Sometimes you can go out to sea with your father and cast the fishing rods. The father made these out of coconut string beforehand. The father then used these lines to catch tuna, which the mother prepared for the family. But now the tuna stay out. The sea seems to have been fished empty. The father often complains, what should he do when the fish are missing, there is nothing to eat. He could always sell the fish at the market or exchange it for food. Now there is no money. The neighbors are no different.

Kiribati Economy