Gilbert and Ellice Islands

The Gilbert and Ellice Islands were a British protectorate from 1892 and colony from 1916 until 1 January 1976 when the islands were divided into two different colonies which became independent nations shortly after. The Gilbert Islands have been the major part of the nation of Kiribati since 1979, and the Ellice Islands became Tuvalu in 1978.

The sixteen islands of the Gilberts and The Ellice Islands were declared protectorate in 1892; Banaba (or Ocean Island) was included within the protectorate in 1900 and then in the colony in 1916. In the same year, Fanning Island and Washington Island were included in it together with the islands of the Tokelau or Union Islands; Christmas Island was included in 1919 but was contested by the USA. The Tokelau were detached in 1925 (but not formally until just after WWII); the Phoenix Islands were added in 1937 and the five islands of the Central and Southern Line Islands were added in 1972.

In 1974, ethnic differences within the colony caused the Polynesians of the Ellice Islands to vote for separation from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands (later Kiribati). The following year, the Ellice Islands became the separate British colony of Tuvalu.