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Wonders of Kiribati

Community of giant clams, Orona Lagoon in Kiribati
Community of giant clams, Orona Lagoon / Randi Rotjan, / CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

The area of Kiribati exceeds the area of the United States. But most of it is taken by the ocean, the land area is only 811 km². This is an exciting land of extremes, with local people living in extreme poverty and at the same time leading such way of life which is mildly named "non-consumerist" way of life. In reality, it means – most people in Kiribati don’t care about "our" rules of economics, which keep the Western society in a tight iron grip.

The most amazing wonders of Kiribati are:

  • Unusual ecosystems. The diverse climatic conditions and remoteness of these islands have created very interesting ecosystems, sometimes without analogs in the world.
  • Archaeological monuments. The archaeological monuments of Kiribati are not spectacular. But – how the ancient Polynesians and Micronesians managed to reach these islands, to survive the dry climate, hurricanes and lack of freshwater… and lack of nearly anything else?

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 15 wonders of Kiribati

Biological wonders

McKean Island

Phoenix Islands

85 000 lesser frigatebirds (Fregata ariel) live on this small (57 ha) island. This is the largest nesting population of these birds in the world. Island has a hypersaline lagoon.

Kanton Lagoon and Orona Lagoon

Phoenix Islands

Spectacular communities of giant clams – the largest bivalve molluscs in the world. Such dense communities of these rare molluscs are unique in the world.

Caroline Island

Line Islands

An atoll with a group of islands covered with primeval tropical vegetation.

Washington Lake, Teraina

Line Islands

The atoll of Teraina island has not a seawater lagoon but a freshwater lake taking its central part. This is very rare for atolls and thanks to this there is luxuriant coconut palm forest and peat bogs around it.

Kiritimati Flats

Line Islands

More than 500 hypersaline lagoons, covering some 140 km², located in the lagoon of Kiritimati Atoll. Unique environment for algal growth, algae have formed here thick mats.

Archaeological wonders

Bangabangas of Banaba Island


These sacred limestone caves of the island are not man-made but they have a special traditional value. Little is known about the number and extent of these caves – but it is known that there are rather many on this small island. Part of these caves is lost due to mining activities. Caves often are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, only women were allowed to enter them.

Nake Island marae

Line Islands

A temple platform – marae – built by Polynesians in ancient times.

Malden Island stone ruins

Line Islands

Remnants of stone structures left by ancient Polynesians who lived on this arid, currently uninhabited island. Most ruins are found along the beach, in the north-western and south-western parts.

Ruins of a prehistoric structure, Malden Island, Kiribati
Ruins of a prehistoric structure, Malden Island / Angela K. Kepler, / public domain
Orona Island prehistoric settlement

Phoenix Islands

Ruins of ancient stone marae and other structures on the eastern tip of the island.

Tabuaeran prehistoric settlement

Line Islands

Ruins of ancient Polynesian settlement in the north-western part of the island. Very impressive are ruins of marae (total estimated weight of stones – 17 tons), a pavement, and a burial platform where some persons of high status have been buried.

Arorae navigational stones – Te Atibu-ni-Borau

Gilbert Islands

Eight coral slabs that long ago have been set upright and arranged to serve as navigational aid for seafarers.

Manra Island prehistoric settlement

Phoenix Islands

Ruins of ancient stone structures in the northeast and northwest of the island.

Butaritari navigational stones

Gilbert Islands

A setting of coral slabs that served as a navigational aid for seafarers.

Architecture wonders

Koinawa Cathedral

Gilbert Islands

A beautiful cathedral, built in 1907 in Neo-Gothic style with interesting details in the local style.

Atanikarawa mwaneaba, Burenneita Mwaneaba and other mwaneabas

Gilbert Islands

A giant structure – a traditional meeting house. The structure is a single hall, 40 m long and 20 m wide, built without nails or bolts.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Pacifica: Myth, Magic and Traditional Wisdom from the South Sea Islands

Story-telling is one of the great enchantments of life. Pacifica: Myth, Magic, and Traditional Wisdom from the South Sea Islands bring us the tales told by the people of the Pacific Islands. Stories of mystery, everyday magic, and the powering force of myth.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.

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