Kiribati is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 100,000 and the island nation is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the equator, and bordering the International Date Line at its easternmost point.
The name Kiribati is the local pronunciation of "Gilberts", derived from the main island chain, the Gilbert Islands. The capital of South Tarawa consists of a number of islets connected through a series of causeways, located in the Tarawa archipelago. Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the IMF and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.