Celebrating Kiribati Independence Day!

South Tarawa Kiribati

Celebrating Kiribati Independence Day!


The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) celebrate Independence from the United Kingdom on 12 July 2021.

Kiribati is made up of 33 islands which include 32 atolls and one raised coral island of Banaba.

Most of the islands are low-lying atolls or ring-shaped coral reefs and as a result Kiribati is home to the South Pacific’s largest marine reserve.

The islands are also scattered widely across the central Pacific with the land area of each island quite small and it is the only country in the world where its Islands are in all four hemispheres.


The islands, which now form the Republic of Kiribati, were first inhabited by Polynesians and Melanesians from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji thousands of years ago before the first arrival of European ships.

Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, was the first European to sight the islands and named them the Buen Viaje (“good trip”) Islands.

In 1788, British captains Thomas Gilbert and John Marshall sailed through the islands and described Abaiang, Aranuka, Kuria, and Tarawa.

In the 19th century, Great Britain established a protectorate over the Gilbert Islands and the neighbouring Ellice Islands in 1892.

In 1916, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands became a Crown Colony.

The Gilbert Islands achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1979 under the name Kiribati.

The official languages spoken are English and Gilbertese.

Kiribati National Flag

Kiribati National Flag


Independence Day is the country’s national holiday and with the current population of Kiribati at 121,314 the biggest celebrations will be held in South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. (Source: UN Data)

Celebrations usually takes place at the Bairiki National Stadium with the raising of the national flag to the sound of national anthem, the President’s speech, and a parade.

Independence Day festivities also involve traditional dance performances.


Traditional male dancer Fanning Island Kiribati

Traditional male dancer Fanning Island Kiribati


Throughout the Independence Day week, the Government and the community celebrates other important milestones like Gospel Day, Senior Citizens’ Day and National Culture Day.

The Australian Kiribati community will be celebrating Kiribati Independence through various events across the country but with the COVID-19 pandemic event organisers will be working to ensure the events are COVID-Safe.

If you are celebrating at home you can enjoy the music of Kiribati.



Click here for the Victorian Kiribati Association Facebook page

Click here for the Queensland Kiribati Community Facebook page

The largest Australian Kiribati communities are in Queensland followed by Victoria.


Keen to learn more or engage the Kiribati community in Australia? Contact our team at [email protected]


Dee Raghavan

Dee Raghavan is the Senior Manager, Engagement Marketing at CulturalPulse. She has a passion for writing, travelling and experiencing other cultures through sport, music, film, art and food. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]