Independence Day in Kiribati Date in the current year: July 12, 2024

Independence Day in Kiribati The Republic of Kiribati celebrates its Independence Day on July 12. It is the country’s national holiday that commemorates the independence of Kiribati from the United Kingdom in 1979.

Kiribati is a small island country in the central Pacific Ocean, comprising 32 atolls and reef islands and one raised coral island of Banaba. The country’s total population is just over 110,000, and more than half of it live on Tarawa Atoll.

The islands which now form the Republic of Kiribati were first inhabited by Micronesians thousands of years ago. The area was occasionally visited by Polynesian and Melanesian invaders from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji before the first arrival of European ships.

The first European to sight the islands was Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, who named them the Buen Viaje (“good trip”) Islands. More than 180 years later, in 1788, British captains Thomas Gilbert and John Marshall sailed through the islands and described Abaiang, Aranuka, Kuria, and Tarawa. In 1820, German-born Russian admiral Adam Johann von Krusenstern named the archipelago after Gilbert.

In the 19th century, merchant vessels, blackbirders (Europeans who sought laborers for plantations and coerced people of non-European ancestry to work as laborers through trickery and kidnapping), and whalers began to arrive in great numbers, which resulted in dire consequences. In an attempt to bring a semblance of order to the region, Great Britain established a protectorate over the Gilbert Islands and the neighboring Ellice Islands in 1892.

In 1916, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands became a Crown Colony. During the Second World War, the Gilbert Islands were under Japanese occupation. After the war, the colony’s transition to self-determination began. Between 1955 and 1962, conferences attended by representatives from each island were held every two years to determine the future of the colony.

In 1967, the Constitution of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony was adopted. It created the House of Representatives and the Government Council. Between the adoption of the constitution and the declaration of independence, three general elections were held in the colony.

In December 1974, a referendum was held to determine whether the two groups of islands should be administered jointly or each have its own administration. According to its results, two separate administrations were created in 1976. The Ellice Islands declared their independence as Tuvalu in 1978, and the Gilbert Islands became the independent Republic of Kiribati on July 12, 1979.

Independence Day is the national holiday of Kiribati. National Day festivities usually last for several days because the government appoints the dates of several public holidays (Gospel Day, Senior Citizens’ Day and National Culture Day) during the Independence Day week.

The biggest celebration is held in South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. It takes place at the Bairiki National Stadium. The celebration includes raising of the national flag to the sound of national anthem, the President’s speech, and a colorful parade. Independence Day festivities also involve traditional dance performances, kite-flying, canoe races, and various sports events and competitions.

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