Geography Now! Kiribati


Kiribati. It’s pronounced Kiri-bahs. For some weird reason the TI makes an S sound. (It’s time to learn Geography…..NOW!) Hey everybody, I’m your host Barbs. Woo! Finally we’ve added another country to the Oceania playlist to keep Australia and Fiji company! (Aussie still want New Zealand ;-;). How are you guys doing back there? WE’RE DOING JUST FINE!!! (Oh really). Great! I am so excited because Kiribati is a country that very few people even know exists, which makes the perfect transition into… (POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY) When it comes to time zones, no country compares to the sheer confusion that is Kiribati. Let’s explain First of all, The country is made up of 33 island atolls and reefs. A third are located in the region of Micronesia and two thirds of what is technically classified as the oceanic region of Polynesia. Over 40% of the landmass belongs to Kiritimati Island, the largest atoll in the world, which has all those webby-pockety things going on, making it look like a weird alien claw or like a slimy insect with… Yo, Ken. What do you call those bugs with like pinchers on their butts? (hehe…pitchers on booty). Yeah, dude, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen them. They’re like the worst bugs. AWW, EARWIGS! That’s what they are called! I hate those things! By the way, Kiritimati is the native way of pronouncing “Christmas”. So yes, this place, this alien claws slimy earwig larvae island is called Christmas Island. Not to be confused with Australia’s Christmas Island. The country is made up of three main island chains. The sixteen Gilbert or Kiribati Islands, the Phoenix or Rawaki islands, made up of eight atolls and two submerged reefs, and the Line Islands, 8 of which belong to Kiribati and the remaining three: Palmyra Atoll, Jarvis island and Kingman Reef belong to the US as minor outlying islands territories. Then you have the little off-shoot Banaba island that kind of just wandered off and doesn’t really fit into any of the chains. The capital is located on Tarawa Atoll where about half of the entire population lives. By the way, a quick side note, the word Kiribati is just the pronunciation of Gilberts in the native language. Most of the inhabited islands have air strips for small domestic flights, however the country has two international airports. The largest one that most people fly into: Tarawa’s Bonriki International. And then there’s Kiritimati’s Cassidy International served by Fiji and Hawaii. Outside of Tawara island, the next most populated areas are Tabwakea on Kiritimati and Makin village on Makin island, each with only about 2,000 people on them. Now here’s where things get really tricky. Kiribati’s island chains pass through both the International Dateline and the Equator. This makes them the only country in the world to straddle across four hemispheres. *Barby and his French skills in action*. Oh, my France just let them have this one! I swear! Now you would think that being pass the Anti-Meridian would mess up the country’s schedules, I mean two thirds of the country would be stuck in yesterday as the remainder would be forever in Tomorrowland, right? Well in 1995, they got sick of the confusion and they change it to UTC+ 13 for the Phoenix Islands, which Tonga, Tokelau and Samoa respectively joined. And the furthest extending one, UTC+ 14, JUST for the Line Islands. Which are just south of Hawaii, Caroline Island being the furthest east of these even though nobody lives on it. Both of these overlap the UTC minus 10 and 11 time zones, So that means that every morning, Kiribati is literally the first country to start every day or at least the Line Islands of Kiribati. ‘Uh didn’t you say Japan was the Land of the Rising Sun?’ Ah good observation…. But Kiribati is the land that the first dawn. Oh…..SHUTDOWWWWNNNN…… *chuckle* You’re so good at this. Which is weird because the same sun later rises on some islands further west like American Samoa, Midway and Niue. Yet since they lie on UTC -11 zone, they are considered to be 25 hours behind. And if anybody was living on the uninhabited Howland and Baker Islands and Johnson Atoll in the latest time zones, the UTC- 12, they would be considered 26 hours behind. So that means, see if you can keep up with me, every day for technically two hours, there can be three days happening at once. So any who… 21 of the islands are inhabited: all 16 of the Gilberts, Banaba, one in the Phoenix Islands, Kanton Island; and three in the Line Islands, Teraina, Tabuaeran, and Kirimati, the alien claw slimy Earwigs island. Finally, each of the inhabited island have their own councils, with 3 on Tarawa. Phew! Alright, well…some notable places to check out if you decide to go to Kiribati might include places like…. Fenua Ura, The Curvy Parliament building, The National Library and Archives, Koinava and Sacred Heart cathedrals, the Atari Kawa and Bureneita traditional meeting houses, ruins of Malden and Starbuck Islands (starbuck?! Are there any cofee?!), the Arorae and Butari-tari navigational stones, Manra Island prehistoric settlement, the Nake Island Madre temple platform, the abandoned post office of Orona Island, h, and if you play Call of Duty, Makin Island was featured on World At War, WW2 remnants at Betio. Oh, and literally almost everywhere you go, you’ll be with a few meters of an amazing beach, typically laid out on rich unspoiled coral reefs. Like literally the entire width of some parts of the country are only like a few meters wide. Let’s dive more into that in…. (PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY) Okay, let’s just get it over with. Like many other Pacific island nations, Kiribati is kind of dealing with a problem of… sinking. Like already two islands have been swallowed by the Pacific Ocean. Even though the country spans a domain of over two million square kilometers of ocean, the land area only takes up about 800 square kilometers. Kiribati is one of the world’s lowest lying nations. In fact, when Hiram Bingham Jr., a Christian missionary, first translated the Bible into the native language, he had trouble translating the word for ‘mountain’ since the natives had never seen one. Now here’s the thing, a lot of islands in the Pacific are a little different from most of the other islands around the world because they’re very skinny. The word for these types of flat, wispy, and closed all the other types of islands are called atolls. And Kiribati is mostly made up of them. The highest point of the country being only 81 meters above sea level on Banaba island, which is actually a raised coral island, so they got lucky. Otherwise, the majority of the rest of the island only rise about 2 to 6 meters above sea level This is kind of a problem because rising sea levels, or ‘king tides’ as they call it, in the past century have completely inundated parts of the coast, forcing people to either move out or build seawall barricades along their homes. Some estimate that in about 50 years, the problem will be too devastating and the majority of the people in Kiribati may have to be relocated abroad. One excellent way some residents are battling the problem though is through mangrove planting. The bushy plants are able to grow in seawater and act as a natural barricade for waves. On top of that, there are virtually no rivers and only a few small ponds that store up fresh water. Most people here get fresh water through wells or bore holes or rain collection. And there are two small desalinization plants on Banaba and Tarawa. Otherwise seawater is mostly used for bathing, laundry, and toilets. I mean it’s okay if you have salt in it if you’re not drinking it. The majority of their energy also, unfortunately, comes from diesel run generators. This causes another problem for them as they have to have a constant supply of import that’s required to keep their country afloat. Only about 60% of the entire country has access to electricity. On top of that, solid waste management is a problem with the little space they have. A recycling center opened up on Tarawa and an island-wide cleanup campaigns have been initiated. However, it’s a slow process. Jeez, everything you said sounds a little kind of morbid. Do you have anything positive to say about the country? Ken, why are you not operating the camera? I just wanted more lines in the episode. Oh you like being on camera, eh? Well, I mean you know. I mean if you whatever you like I mean whatever. Okay. You know what? Fine! Here Take this next part. Okay. See if you can keep up with the teleprompter Uhh, Okay. For one, the entire Phoenix island chain is a protected marine area, the third largest in the Pacific after the Pitcarin Marine Island and Hawaii’s Papa.. Papa Hana…. Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (whaatt…) Papahana…umo… Papahaumokuakea. Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. There there you got it. It’s not as easy you thought it was, huh? Nah nah, I got I got this. Now of course as an island nation, they have more than enough fish and seafood to add to their diet. Some specialties being crayfish and giant clam. They are known for producing lots of toddy, which is made into a sweet syrup. They could also be fermented into alcohol. Otherwise, they harvest giant swamp taro, breadfruit, of course coconuts, figs and pandanus. HEHAHH! Panda- AN*S Whoo. For such a small country, we’re getting a lot of cool info, aren’t we? And it gets even more fascinating once we talk about people which brings us to… I don’t know how you do it like… That’s going in the video. AHHHHAWWWW (DEMOGRAPHICS) Yeah, good job man. Let’s give Ken a round of applause. All right. I’ll take it from here.(#KenReplaceBarbyForGeographyNow) (Ken thumps on the floor) By now, you can probably feel how unique Kiribati is on the surface but when you meet all the actual people, it’s like a whole new level of wonder. First of all, the country has about 110,000 people and unless efforts are made to fortify their land, the 60% of the country that is under 30 years old is speculated to possibly be the last generation to live on the islands before potential relocation. The vast majority of the people at about 97% identify as being the I-Kiribati branch of the Micronesian ethnicity, similar to their neighbors like the Marshallese and Palauans. The remainder is made up of a small community of Polynesians, mostly Tuvaluan and I-Matang, the word for Westerners or whites, mostly of British and American descent. They also use two forms of currency, the Kiribati dollar and the Australian dollar, they use the Type I plug outlet, and they drive on the left side of the road, with whatever little roads they do have. I-Kiribati people come from a long history of seafarers that have historically inhabited the island since possibly around 3000 BC. Culture-wise, it’s a little unique because Kiribati is kind of like the bridge between Micronesia and Polynesia. Don’t get the two mixed up though. At one point, they were even United with Tuvalu under the British but after independence, the Tuvaluan were like: ‘Okay look Kiribati, we’re Polynesians.’ ‘We don’t even understand your language very well. Plus, we want to stay a Commonwealth.’ ‘So we’re piecing out.’ “I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m not gonna stop. Ahead.” ‘Okay. I don’t even need your permission. Okay. I was gonna leave anyway.’ “Yeah, okay.” ‘Fine.’ “All right” ‘Just you know I’m leaving because we’re too different from each other’ “I get that!” Maybe a little exaggerated but you get the point. The country is mostly bilingual with both the I-Kiribati language or Gilbertese and English. Gilbertese is a Micronesian language, part of the Austronesian language family. A cousin of Micronesian and Marshallese, but not Palauans. Palauans may be their cousins, but they have a whole different language thing going on. The alphabet only has 13 letters and no esses, so they substitute the “S” with a “TI” for some reason. Hence it’s Kiri- BAHS. In Kiribati, it’s kind of a big deal to identify yourself based off of which island you’re from. People in the Gilberts are kind of like the Metropolitan business folk. The Line islands are kind of like the cool adventurous people, and the very few Phoenix islanders on that one inhabited island, Canton. They’re kind of seen is like the mystical shepherds of the protected marine sanctuary. Like many other Pacific island nations, towns typically erect a traditional multifunctional communal meeting structure, here known as Maneaba. In Kiribati, they’re typically high ceilings open-walled thatched roof gazebos that hosts various events and meetings. The majority of I-Kiribati identify as Christians, about half being Catholic, 40% Protestant, and the remainder being mostly Mormon and Baha’i. Yeah, the Mormons have quite a distinct presence in the Pacific island nations. History will take way too long to explain, but in the quickest way I can put it, Earliest inhabitants come in migrating possibly from other Micronesia and Polynesia areas, Various wars and battles with neighboring nations like Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, Intermarrying with said Samoan, Tongans and Fijians, which in return may have introduced certain cultural traits This guy sails by, they take note, word spreads, Tons of missionaries, Chinese, and Samoans merchants and castaways stop by. The British were like: ‘okay, time to make this a protectorate along with the Elysee Islands’. Meanwhile, the Phoenix and Line island chains were operated under the US. Then they weren’t. Then they kind of were again, Tons of natives move in to the Phoenix and Line islands, Japanese came in and tried to take over, big mistake, huge battle called the battle of Tarawa, Japanese leave, controversy with the United States and UK using areas around Christmas island for nuclear bomb testing, self-rule in 1967, finally 1979 they break away from the British, gained independence, four years later the US elinquishes the Phoenix and Line Islands to them, overcrowding problems forced about 5,000 people to move to other islands, International Dateline moved, UN membership. Aaaaand here we are today. Now one thing that makes Kiribati stick out from the other neighbors is that historically, they were known for having a very unique warfare and martial arts culture. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, explorers noticed and documented curiously dressed warriors with armor made of thickly woven coconut fibers and helmets made out of resilient blowfish carcasses, topped with a wide array of weapons like jagged broad swords lined with shark’s teeth. That actually looks so cool. It’s like the ultimate oceanic island warrior getup. I love it. Otherwise, fascinating colorful dances, music, and traditions live on. Dances typically involve quick head movements to imitate a bird. During celebrations, you might witness the Tirere stick dance. Especially on the biggest holiday, July 12th; their Independence Day. I-Kiribati also live by a unique code called ‘Bubuti’. It’s a system which you kind of have to let someone borrow something if they ask you and it’s shameful if you refuse the request. Unless if the context of the situation really says ‘otherwise’. And the reason why is because generally, I-Kiribati are very communal. They have to survive together on a limited space that’s washing away. You can’t NOT help someone who’s drowning in the same boat you’re on. Getting help from friends is definitely something ingrained in the mindset of a typical I-Kiribati person. Which is why they like to reach out to other countries quite often which brings us to… (FRIENDZONE) Kiribati may have had a few periods of conflict both direct and indirect but since independence, They’ve been diplomatically reaching out to…pretty much anyone that realized they existed. Fiji is considered a good friend who has sold them land and said that they will accommodate if the people need to be relocated in the future. They made an agreement of leasing out land to Japan for building a spaceport on Christmas Island, but the plans were abandoned in 2013. They used to have relations with China, but then in 2003, they wanted to befriend Taiwan as well China got angry and said you cannot have both of us and severed ties that very year. Their closest family would be of course the other Micronesian States: The Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the two US territories of Guam and the Marianas. These countries share similar cultures, languages, and history as well. They’re best friends though would have to be Australia and New Zealand. These countries give them the biggest amount of trade, business, and supply them with the most aid. Many programs are in place to help the locals apply for relocation on their lands if need be as well. In conclusion, Kiribati is a small yet spread country, loaded with history armed with shark tooth sword-wielding Melanesians that are literally fighting off the ocean. And with that done and said, our next set of twins are coming up, the Koreas. And since we go alphabetically, North Korea, is coming up next. (oh boy…we’re doing Kimmy Kim Jong Un’s backyard next…I’m excited)




Comments
  1. Guys there’s a fake account using the GN logo and name in the comments trolling everyone with a link, DO NOT CLICK ON IT AND REPORT THEM IMMEDIATELY. I’ve already blocked them but they might come back so please be vigilant.

  2. I’m from Mexico. And I studied in Cuba. Where I met someone from Kiribati. He never pronounced as u did in the beginning of the video. We lived together in the school for more than 6 years and become a close friend. Now we each returned to our countries and stay in touch.

  3. So a person on Niue is 25 hours behind a person on Phoenix Islands in time even though they are still in the same time? Wait, what?

  4. wouldn't kiritimati be pronounced as [IPA] kiɾismas? that would keep with your previous role, and it would make much more sense since it's a translation of [kɹIstmIs] {christmas}.

  5. Kiritimati = Christmas
    Kiritimati = Ki-ri-ti-mas
    Every 'ti' = 's'
    Then shouldn't it be – 'Kirismas'?
    Kirismas – (first 'i') = Krismas = Christmas?

    ILLUMINATI???

  6. A bit crazy to talk about Kiribati without mentioning climate change, like you could leave this video thinking the route of their problem was King tides and not greenhouse gasses. It's the most significant factor in 21st centuary geography, and leaving it out is somewhat shocking.

  7. Now, one more thing I know about Kiribahs is that it also has a Christmas Islands, which I thought was only one above Australia.

  8. Though it would be expensive, what if they could use the Dutch Damming idea to stay afloat, with international funding?

  9. I'm an alien claws slimy earwigs larvae and I found this kiritimati LOL. honestly this video is one of my favourite today..!!! everything that been said about my country is so on point, especially that FRIEND ZONE part HAHA! wish I'd see this sooner. OH and by the way it is pronouced that way because we don't have an S (for some weird reason) HAHA

  10. Towards the end I believe you said "sword wielding Melenesians which does not coincide with what you mentioned throughout your video stating they are Micronesians … anyway fabulous work! Great job Barb and team. Kam batin rabwa which means thank you very much.

  11. Barbs: How you guys doing here?
    Fiji: WE'RE DOING JUST… FINE!!!!
    Australia: LET ME OUT!
    0:19

  12. They dont have rail transport on Kiribati, do they. Yes it's a group of infinitecimally small islands but still 3 days at a time, if one travels constantly back and forth they live like 3 times less then theyre granted. Wtf

  13. Hey, guys! Please don’t call us Mormons. The term “Mormon” was used as a derogatory term in the 1800’s and the majority of the 1900’s. We are Christians and would like to be referred to as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as we are followers of Jesus Christ, not Mormon. Thanks!

  14. Shouldn't it be written "Kiribas" in english then? These are all the english names of the countries, not their native names, so it should be written so that english people read it correctly.

  15. You guys are becoming one of my fav channel that I watch daily now! Kudos to the team you did such a good job!!!!

  16. Kiribati people can flip so fast from happy to smashing things over your head because you shame the family. I know many from here.

  17. I don’t understand why Kiribati didn’t just put the Gilbert islands in a new time zone, 1/3 changing instead of 2/3 changing makes more sense and it would also make less of a indent on the date line

  18. One thing that could possibly help with their roads before the ocean swallows the place is build a bunch of bridges

  19. Any real folks from Kiribati here? Like this and comment down below on your native language. BTW wow Paul you speak a lot of languages like you're really a native speaker

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