Fact Sheet of Kiribati

Airlines
Air Marshall and Air Nauru connect Kiribati with its international routes. There are connections from Nadi and Suva in Fiji, Majuro in the Marshall Islands and Nauru. There are also services from Honolulu in Hawaii, and Sydney and Brisbane in Australia. Air Kiribati provides domestic connections to most of the islands, and chartered flights can be arranged.

Airport
Bonriki International Airport is located in South Tarawa. Christmas Island's airport is to the north, 15 minutes from the Captain Cook Hotel and 45 minutes from the main town of London.

Banking
Branches of the Bank of Kiribati are located at Bairiki, Betio and Bikenibeu on Tarawa, and Kiritimati (Christmas Island). Trading hours are 9.30am-3pm except Bikenibeu, which closes at 2pm. Travellers cheques and all major currencies are accepted by the bank; some larger hotels also change currency. Major credit cards are accepted.

Communication
Telecom Services Kiribati Ltd (TSKL) provide ISD, fax and telex services, but only a limited number of islands have a public network. The others are served by HF radio. The international code is 686. The General Post Office is in Bairiki with branches in Betio, Bikenibeu and the outer islands. Opening hours are 9am-3pm, Monday to Friday, except Bikenibeu, which closes at 2pm. Radio Kiribati broadcasts on MW 846, 9.825MHZ and FM98, but the service is not continuous. Local hotels do not provide radios, so it is advisable to bring a portable. There is no television station at present. Limited copies of overseas papers and magazines are available and the weekly national, The Uekera, is sold in local stores.

Consulate Offices/Embassies
  • NZ High Commissioner: PO Box 53, Bairiki, Tarawa.
  • Australian High Commissioner: PO Box 77, Bairiki, Tarawa.
  • British Aid Office PO Box 61, Bairiki, Tarawa

Currency
The Australian dollar.

Departure Tax
Passengers above two years of age must pay a A$10 tax on departure. There is also a 10% service tax added to all hotel bills.

Dress
Dress is casual, although women are advised not to wear shorts or short dresses away from resorts and beaches. The traditional sarongs available in local stores are ideal for the tropical climate.

Driving/Roads
Driving is on the left hand side of the road. The speed limit is 45km in towns/villages and 65km on the open road. Overseas driving licenses and international permits are recognised for a maximum of two weeks after arrival.

Electricity
240 volts, 50Hz. Appliances with a standard Australian three-pin plug will operate in South Tarawa. On Christmas Island, some plugs are US-style and voltage may vary.

Entry Requirements
Citizens of Britain, Canada and NZ can stay visa-free for up to 28 days with a valid passport and onward ticket, provided they can prove sufficient funds. Otherwise, visas can be issued for A$40 on arrival, provided the above conditions are fulfilled.

Food
The emphasis is on local fish and tropical foods, though European and Chinese cuisine is available in local restaurants.

Health Regulations
Hepatitis is prevalent and it is wise to take precautions. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers coming from infected areas. Tap and well water should be boiled.

History
Micronesians settled Kiribati between 200 and 500AD; the first European explorers were the Spanish during the 16th Century. The Islands were originally named after Captain Thomas Gilbert, who sailed past in 1788. During World War II, there was fierce fighting between the American and Japanese forces - evident from the remaining war relics. During the 1950s, Christmas Island was a base for early nuclear tests. The islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and complete independence in 1979.

Language
The main language is I-Kiribati. English is widely understood on Tarawa, but less so on the outer islands.

Medical Services
Tarawa has a well-equipped 120-bed hospital which includes private rooms. An ambulance service operates from the hospital. There are clinics on most of the outer islands. Dial 999 for emergency, fire, police or ambulance.

Politics
Kiribati was granted independence from the UK on 12 July 1979 after a period of internal self-government. It is a democratic republic with a 42-member House of Parliament headed by the Beretitenti (president). Elections are held every four years. The 12 member cabinet is appointed by the President from the House; it includes the President, Vice-President and Attorney-General. Local government is controlled by island councils that work with the unimane (village elders). There are six administrational districts - Banaba, Central Gilberts, Line Islands, Northern Gilberts, Southern Gilberts and Tarawa - and 21 island councils. Kiribati is a member of the Commonwealth and the UN.

Religion
Christianity is the main religion, represented by the Kiribati Protestant Church (30%) and the Roman Catholic Church (54%). Other religions include Bahai, Muslim, Latter Day Saints, Church of God and Seventh-day Adventist.

Shopping
Shopping on Tarawa is limited to several supermarkets and small local stores. There is no pharmacy or newsagent. Local handcrafts such as mats, spears, trays and fans can be purchased at outlets in South Tarawa. Business hours are 8am to 4.30pm.

Sport and Recreation
Diving, snorkelling and game fishing are the most popular activities in Kiribati, along with beachcombing, reef walking and shell collecting. There is also soccer, squash, cycling and tennis.

Tipping
Tipping is not customary.

Transport (Domestic)
Private buses operate from the airport to the main centres on South Tarawa - they offer a cheap and efficient service. Flag them down on the main road and disembark where you wish. Buses operate daily from Betio to Buota from 6am to 9pm. There are various boats and government ships offering weekly or monthly services to the outer islands. Air Kiribati also offers domestic flight services to the outer islands.

Visitor information
Kiribati Visitors Bureau
Ministry of Communication, Transport and Tourism Development
PO Box 487, Tarawa