Kiribati Independence Day is observed on 12 July every year.
Kiribati, officially Republic of Kiribati, is an island country in the central Pacific Ocean. The 33 islands of Kiribati, of which only 20 are inhabited, are scattered over a vast area of ocean.
The name Kiribati was adopted in 1979 at independence. It is the Gilbertese (the country’s official language) rendition of Gilberts, which indicated the nation’s main archipelago – Gilbert Islands.
The first settlers in the Gilbert Islands from Southeast Asia, by way of Micronesia, some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Spanish explorers sighted some of the islands in the 16th century, but most of Kiribati was not charted until the early 19th century.
The Gilbert Islands became a British protectorate in 1892 and became known as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu) Colony from 1916.
During World War II the islands were occupied by Japan; an elected House of Representatives was later established in 1967.
The subsequent emergence of ethnic tensions led to the division of the Gilbert Islands and the Ellice Islands into two territories in 1975-76.
The Gilbert Islands achieved independence from the United Kingdom under the name Kiribati on 12 July 1979.