Kiribati profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

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Image caption Vacant land is at a premium on Tarawa atoll, capital of the vast archipelago nation

11th-14th centuries - Samoans migrate to the islands, Fijians and Tongans follow.

1820 - Named the Gilbert Islands, after British naval captain Thomas Gilbert who came across a number of the islands in 1788 when sailing from Australia to China.

1892 - Britain declares a protectorate over the Gilbert Islands and the neighbouring Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu). They are administered by the Western Pacific High Commission based in Fiji.

1900 - The British government annexes Ocean Island (now Banaba) following the discovery of significant phosphate resources.

1916 - The Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony is formed. Over the next twenty years other island groups in the area, including the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands, are added to the colony.

1943 - The Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony is occupied by Japanese forces. The Tarawa Atoll sees some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific between Japan and the Allied forces.

1945 - Environmental damage caused by open-cast phosphate mining forces the residents of Banaba to leave and settle on Rabi Island in the Republic of Fiji.

Nuclear tests

1957 - British government detonates a series of hydrogen bombs near Christmas Island (now Kiritimati).

1971 - Banabans start litigation proceedings against the British government to recover lost phosphate export revenues and to be compensated for environmental damage.

1975 - The British government refuses to recognise demands for independence by Banabans.

1975 - The colony is divided into two separate territories, the Gilbert Islands and the Ellice Islands.

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Image caption Kiribati's islands were the scene of several World War II battles and many war relics can still be seen

1976 - British courts order the British Phosphate Commissioners to compensate Banaban landowners for damages but dismiss their claim for unpaid royalties. The Banabans reject the offer.

1977 - The Gilbert Islands obtain internal self-government.


1979 12 July - The Gilbert Islands become an independent republic within the Commonwealth under the name of Kiribati. Ieremia Tabai becomes president.

Phosphate deposits run out.

1981 - Following further High Court hearings in Britain the Banaban people accept an increased offer of compensation.

1982 - First elections since independence.

1989 - Overcrowding prompts resettlement of inhabitants to other low-lying atolls.

1991 - First president, Ieremia Tabai, stands down having served three terms.

1992 - Seeks compensation from Japanese for damage caused during World War II.

1994 September - Teburoro Tito elected president.

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Image caption Kiribati has created the world's third-largest marine reserve but the waters are hard to regulate

1995 - Kiribati suspends diplomatic relations with France, in protest at the French decision to resume nuclear tests on Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia.

1995 - The government adjusts the international dateline to the east of its easternmost island, Caroline Island, ensuring the date is the same across its islands.

1998 November - Tito re-elected president.

1999 - Caroline Island is renamed Millennium Island to promote tourism.

The government says two uninhabited coral reefs have been submerged because of rising sea levels.

1999 September - Admitted to the United Nations.

2000 - Japan says it is willing to discuss compensation claims.

Remains of 20 US marines who disappeared during World War II are found and returned home.

2002 March - Announces decision along with Tuvalu and the Maldives to take legal action against the US for its refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

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Image caption The Kiribati team parades at the opening of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi

2003 March - President Teburoro Tito is ousted in a vote of no confidence, one day into his third term as president.

2003 July - Anote Tong defeats his brother Harry in presidential elections.

2003 November - Kiribati establishes diplomatic relations with Taiwan, angering China. Beijing severs diplomatic ties and removes its satellite tracking station from Kiribati's main island.

2006 March - Kiribati creates the world's third-largest marine reserve. Fishing is banned in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, home to hundreds of species of fish and coral.

2007 October - Anote Tong wins presidential elections by overwhelming majority in second round of voting.

2012 January - Anote Tong is re-elected for a third successive term.

2012 March - Kiribati cabinet approves plan to buy 6,000 acres of land on Fiji for use if rising sea levels necessitate relocation of Kiribati citizens.

2014 May - Kiribati makes final payment on the purchase of 6,000 acres of land in Fiji for possible relocation.

2014 February - Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says residents of Kiribati will be welcome to relocate to Fiji if their country is swamped by rising sea levels.