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Independence Day of Kiribati

When is the Independence Day of Republic of Kiribati celebrated?
The Republic of Kiribati, earlier known as Gilbert Islands, gained its independence from British colonial rule on July 12, 1979. Since then, this day has been celebrated as the independence day of Kiribati.

How do the people of Kiribati celebrate their Independence Day?
The Independence Day is a public holiday in Kiribati. It starts with a presidential address, is followed by a colorful parade, and many sporting events, and dance performances.

Why is the Independence Day of Kiribati significant?
Gilbert Islands is an archipelago of 16 coral islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a main part of Kiribati including the capital city of Tarawa. Kiribati is a version of Gilberts in Gilbertese. The Europeans contact with the Gilbert Islands grew in the 1800s, when slave traders, whalers, merchant vessels began frequenting the islands.

The European influx threw these quiet islands into chaos as they brought with them fatal contagious diseases and firearms. In 1892, the Gilbert Islands along with the neighboring Ellice Islands became a British protectorate. The British annexed Banaba, formally known as Ocean Islands, after the discovery of phosphate deposits in 1900s. The islands were made a colony of the British crown in 1916.

The other two main islands of Kiribati-Line and Phoenix islands were incorporated in the colony in the 1919 and 1937 respectively. U.S.A laid a claim on the Canton and Enderbury Atoll among the Phoenix group of islands. Thus, a joint administration was established over these islands.

During the World War II, Japanese seized some of the islands, and fought one of the bloodiest naval battles with the US on Tarawa islet in the Gilberts. While Ocean Islands were liberated at the end of World War II in 1945, Ellice and Gilbert Islands still remained under colonial rule.

Ellice Islands (today known as Tuvalu) became an independent nation in 1978, after voting for separation in a 1974 referendum, and the Gilbert Islands gained self-governance in 1977, and finally became independent as Republic of Kiribati on July 12, 1979. In 1983, U.S.A relinquished its claims over the Canton and Enderbury islands.

What does the national flag of Kiribati represents?
The flag of Kiribati was adopted on the day of its independence in 1979. It is a horizontal bi-color flag with a flag proportion measuring 1:2. The flag showcases the coat of arms that was given to it in 1937, and its emblem was designed in 1932 by Sir Arthur Grimble. The upper part has a red backdrop with a flying frigatebird over the rising sun. The lower part has a narrow blue base with alternating wavy stripes of white and blue.

The rising sun in the red setting represents the equator, the 17 rays emanating from it represents the 16 islands and Banaba, formally known as the Ocean Island. The flying bird over the rising sun is the motif of freedom and authority over the sea, while the blue and white wavy stripes represent the Pacific Ocean. These alternating stripes also signify the Guilbert, Phoenix, and Line islands.

Who wrote the national anthem of Kiribati?
The national anthem of Kiribati, Teirake Kaini Kiribati, which means Stand up Kiribati, was adopted in 1979. The lyrics and music of the song were composed by Urium Tamuera Ioteba.

Last Updated : December 05, 2013

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