Kiribati, officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. It comprises 33 atolls dispersed over 3,500,000 square kilometers straddling the equator and borders the International Date Line to the east. The name Kiribati is the local variant of "Gilberts", derived from Kiribati's pre-independence name, the Gilbert Islands.

Kiribati was inhabited by a single Micronesian ethnic group that spoke the same Oceanic language for 2,000 years before coming into contact with Europeans. The first British settlers arrived in 1837. In 1892, the Gilbert Islands became a British protectorate together with the nearby Ellice Islands. The Gilbert and Ellice Islands became a Crown colony in 1916. Kiritimati (Christmas Island) became a part of the colony in 1919 and the Phoenix Islands were added in 1937. The Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands gained self-rule in 1971, and were separated in 1975 and granted internal self-government by Britain. In 1978, the Ellice Islands became the independent nation of Tuvalu, and Kiribati's independence followed on July 12, 1979.