Kiribati Recent History

State of Micronesia in the Western Pacific, with the capital of Baraiki, and a Melanesian population.

In 1892 it had become British Protectorate, together with the Ellice islands. In 1915 it became a “colony” and in 1977, after the detachment of the Ellice islands, which had proclaimed themselves an Independent Republic in 1975 with the name of Tuvalu, obtained from Britain an autonomous government that preceded independence. And this came on July 12, 1979 and Kiribati became a member of the British Commonwealth.

Kiribati Recent History

It was immediately a Presidential Republic where the president was also the head of the government, with a unicameral system.

The precarious economic situation meant that the country signed agreements in 1981 with the United States, to which it ceded bases for the installation of radar and satellite systems on three islands, in exchange for financial aid for economic and social development. In addition, the United States was granted fishing rights in its territorial waters. And this was a very important concession, given the fact that since it is not possible, given the conformation of the soil, to practice any form of agriculture, fishing represents the major survival element of the country.

In 1985 this concession was not renewed due to the slowdown of some negotiations with the United States and, despite various internal conflicts, the exclusive right of fishing in the area was granted to the Soviet Union. These contrasts generated the formation of the Christian Democratic Opposition Party, led by H. Tong.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Kiribati, the government, not wanting to run the risk of triggering unrest, on expiry of the agreement with the Soviet Union did not renew the contract, but instead signed it with the United States, through a five-year commitment ratified in 1988. Two other fisheries agreements they were signed: one in 1988 with South Korea and the other in 1990 with Taiwan. And all this helped to deplete the waters of the tuna element due to the enormous quantities of fish brought out of the authorized countries.

Also, in 1989, another concern came to aggravate the situation. According to a United Nations report, the greenhouse effect on the site was reaching its safety limits and everything suggested that the islands would run the risk of disappearing within a certain period of time due to the rising level of the ocean.

The head of state and government, IT Tabai, in office since 1979, and then confirmed in 1983 and 1987, established diplomatic relations with China, Tuvalu, Israel, India and the Soviet Union.

In 1991 then Tabai was unable to re-present himself as candidate and supported the election of T. Teannaki, his deputy, who was in fact elected. But the internal situation of the country got worse and worse, both for the poverty of the territory and for the widespread corruption.


So in the elections of July-September 1994 Teannaki was defeated and T. Tito, head of the opposition group “Maneaban Te Mauri”, assumed power, who was also reconfirmed in the 1998 elections.

He immediately started a trial against the previous corrupt administration and brought Teannaki to court. A commission of inquiry was established in 1996 but the institutional referendum, requested by the president, was not allowed.

As far as foreign policy was concerned, Kiribati in 1994 made requests to Japan for compensation for damages from the Second World War.

Then there were strong diplomatic tensions with France for nuclear tests carried out in the country’s territorial waters, and later with China and Japan for oil research. But in 1996 Kiribati re-established and, indeed, consolidated diplomatic relations with China.


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