Kiribati Government and Politics

Following the 1979 Constitution, Kiribati is a democratic and unified state republic. The head of state and the head of government is a president, beretitenti, elected in the general election for four years; he can be re-elected up to twice. The President is elected from among three or four members nominated by and among the members of the National Assembly, after this election.

Kiribati Country Flag

Reference: Kiribati Flag Meaning

According to, the government consists of the president, the vice president, the prosecutor and not more than eight ministers. The latter are elected by members of the National Assembly. The government is responsible to the National Assembly, Maneaba ni Maungatabu, which has legislative authority. It has 44 members elected in the general election, as well as one member nominated to represent the Banaban community (the island of Banaba had to be vacated following the British phosphate development). If the Attorney General is not elected a member of the Assembly, he has an ex officio seat in it. The President of the Assembly is elected from among those who have not been a member of the Assembly. The assembly is for four years, but can be dissolved earlier. The voting age is 18 years.

Kiribati also has a government minister, consisting of the head of the Public Service Commission, the Supreme Court chairman and the chairman of the National Assembly. The government may take over the board when other government agencies are not functioning. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of KI and its meanings of Kiribati.

Administratively, the country was previously divided into six districts, each headed by a state official. After independence, each of the 21 inhabited islands in the country has its own elected council, with the exception of the islands of Tarawa and Tabiteuea, which have three and two councils respectively.

The judiciary

The judiciary comprises 24 magistrate courts, based on the various islands. One of these courts has national jurisdiction. The Supreme Court is an appeal body and consists of a court president and four other judges. All judges are appointed by the President.

Kiribati’s defense

According to the Constitution, Kiribati is not to have its own defense forces. The country has defense agreements with Australia and New Zealand.

History and Politics

Early days

The islands that are called Kiribati today were probably settled 2000 to 3000 years ago. The residents originally came from Micronesia. Over time, people from Polynesia also joined in, so the two groups mixed.

The Europeans came

As early as 1606, a Spanish navigator named Pedro Fernández de Quirós discovered the islands. But few people were interested. In 1777 the famous explorer James Cook stopped by and eleven years later a captain named Thomas Gilbert sighted the islands. This was later taken into account when assigning the name, because the islands and atolls were then called Gilbert Islands.

The fate of the Gilbert Islands is similar to that of many small islands and archipelagos. First came whalers, then slavers, who kidnapped the island’s inhabitants to work on plantations and in mines.

At the same time, settlers came who brought diseases that the islanders could not defend themselves against. And then missionaries, Catholic and Puritan, came and fought for the souls of the people.

British Protectorate and British Colony

In 1892, together with the Ellice Islands, today’s Tuvalu, the British protectorate was created: the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, which still combined the two archipelagos. In 1916 the islands became a British colony.

Second World War

During the Second World War, the Japanese occupied parts of the islands. A famous battle between Japan and the United States also took place here in 1943, from which the Americans emerged victorious. It should also have been important for the turning point and the victory of the Allies in World War II.

In 1974 the Ellice and Gilbert Islands separated. That was how the people of the Ellice Islands had decided. The state was formed in 1978 Tuvalu Tuvalu. The Gilbert Islands also became an independent state within the Commonwealth a little later in July 1979.

Where does the name come from?

But how could the current name “Kiribati” be derived from the Gilbert Islands? “Kiribati” is actually the pronunciation of the Gilbert Islands in Gilbertese or Kiribati. This language has only 13 letters and G, L and S are completely missing and are therefore replaced. The result was “Kiribati”, which should very quickly sound very similar to “Gilberts”. We haven’t tried it, but that’s how it is reported.

The parliament of Kiribati now consists of 46 members who are elected every four years. The President also holds the office of Head of Government and Foreign Minister.

The President of Kiribati has been called Taneti Maamau since March 11, 2016. He succeeded Anote Tong, as he was no longer allowed to run after three terms.

Kiribati Head of Government

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