(Republic of Kiribati, Ribaberiki Kiribati)
- Location: Central Pacific
- Capital: Tarawa
- Language(s): English, Gilbertese
- Population: 101,003
- Total Area: 811 sq km
- Currencies: Australian Dollar, Kiribati Dollar
- Curious Alcohol Fact: There is a toddy made from juice extracted from flowers.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 3.71 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Coconut milk
The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation located in the Central Pacific Ocean. It is an archipelago made up of about 33 islands (or atolls according to some other geographers) although not all of them are inhabited. Most of the islands are located in a group called the Gilbert Islands situated just around the Equator. The name Kiribati was actually derived from the pronunciation of the word ‘Gilberts’ in the native tongue. The capital city is Tarawa and is located in the northern Gilberts. In the past, Kiribati and Tuvalu formed a federation called the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony. Of these islands (or atolls to be more descriptive), the largest is named Kiritimati and is known to many of us as the Christmas Island. It is one of the largest atolls in the world.
The indigenous people of Kiribati are called the I-Kiribati and I find that very interesting since the name Kiribati itself originated from the initial name of the islands (Gilbert Islands). The I-Kiribati are also grouped as Micronesians and they speak a unique language known as Gilbertese. In addition to the ethnic people, there are Tongans, Samoans and Fijians although it can be somehow difficult to differentiate one from the other. The official language is English although is not widely used outside the capital. Most of the I-Kiribati are Christians and there is a considerable minority of Baha’is. Like other Pacific Islanders, the I-Kiribati are very nice and warm people, always eager to receive visitors.
After consuming the foods of the I-Kiribati, I had to give a new name to the country –the Paradise of Delicacies! And sincerely speaking, the spectacular islands of Kiribati are places of culinary delights. Food is a very important part of I-Kiribati culture and the people take time to prepare them. The most popular component of the islanders’ cuisine is rice and is prepared in different ways. Without any iota of surprise, I also saw that the islanders were fond of seafood –fish, crabs, prawns, lobsters, shrimps and many more. After all, what do you expect from an island nation lying right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Spices are generously used and that will make you enjoy the meals even more. My favorite food on the island is called palusami and is prepared from coconuts, onion and spices, all steamed together in an oven and served with grilled chicken. I am yet to eat something more delicious. Many dishes on the island are based on rice and coconuts.
When it comes to having something to drink in Kiribati, one thing that you must sample is coconut milk. You can even climb a tree to get a coconut full of the fresh and sweet juice for your parched throats. Creamy and tasty, coconut milk is the real deal in Kiribati. For someone interested in something stronger, a special alcohol made from flower sap is always available. Imported beers can also be purchased.
- The islands were named after a British naval officer called Thomas Gilbert.
- The Japanese once ruled the islands.
- The natives are called I-Kiribati and I find that very nice sounding!
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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