What is the official language of Kiribati?

What is the official language of Kiribati?

Kiribati, a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean, is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique cultural heritage. As you explore this enchanting destination, you may wonder, "What is the official language of Kiribati?" In this article, we will delve into the linguistic landscape of Kiribati and uncover the answer to this intriguing question. Whether you are planning a trip or simply curious about this fascinating country, understanding its official language is essential. So, let’s embark on this linguistic journey and discover the language that binds the people of Kiribati together.

Overview of Kiribati

Kiribati is a small island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean. It is composed of 33 coral atolls and reef islands, scattered across an area of approximately 3.5 million square kilometers. The country is divided into three main island groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, and the Phoenix Islands.

Geographical Location

Kiribati is situated in the equatorial region, straddling the equator and extending across both the eastern and western hemispheres. It is positioned roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia, making it one of the most remote countries in the world. The country spans a vast area, but the landmass is relatively small, with a total land area of just 811 square kilometers.


As of the latest estimates, Kiribati has a population of approximately 120,000 people. The majority of the population resides in the Gilbert Islands, particularly in the capital city of South Tarawa. Despite its small size, Kiribati has a relatively high population density, mainly due to limited habitable land available on the atolls.

Cultural Diversity

Kiribati boasts a rich cultural heritage and is known for its vibrant traditions and customs. The people of Kiribati, known as I-Kiribati, have a strong connection to their land and the surrounding ocean. The culture is deeply rooted in oral traditions, with storytelling, music, and dance playing significant roles in their society.

Cultural diversity is evident in Kiribati, with each island group having its unique customs and dialects. The Gilbertese language, also known as Kiribati, is the official language spoken throughout the country. However, English is also widely understood and used in government, education, and commerce.

The traditional lifestyle and practices of the I-Kiribati revolve around fishing, farming, and craftsmanship. Traditional dances, such as the Te-Kiribati and the Buki, are celebrated during festivals and special occasions, showcasing the vibrant cultural heritage of the nation.

In conclusion, Kiribati is a fascinating island nation with a unique geographical location, a small but densely populated landmass, and a diverse cultural heritage. The official language of Kiribati is Gilbertese, although English is also commonly used. The I-Kiribati people take immense pride in their traditions, emphasizing storytelling, music, dance, and the connection to their land and sea.

Language in Kiribati

Official language

The official language of Kiribati is English. English was adopted as the official language when the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. As a result, English is widely used in government, education, and business sectors throughout the nation.


Kiribati is primarily a Micronesian country, and the language spoken by the majority of the population is I-Kiribati. However, it is important to note that Kiribati has several dialects within the I-Kiribati language. The main dialects include Gilbertese, Line Islands dialect, and Banaban dialect. These dialects may vary in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, but they are mutually intelligible, allowing people from different regions of Kiribati to communicate effectively.

Language usage

English is predominantly used in formal settings such as government offices, courts, and schools. It serves as the medium of instruction in schools, ensuring that students are proficient in both written and spoken English. However, in everyday conversations and informal settings, I-Kiribati is the most commonly spoken language. It is the language used between family members, friends, and within communities. The I-Kiribati language reflects the rich cultural heritage of Kiribati and plays a vital role in preserving the country’s traditions and identity.

In addition to English and I-Kiribati, other languages, such as Tuvaluan and Banaban, are also spoken by small communities within Kiribati. These languages contribute to the linguistic diversity of the country and add to its cultural tapestry.

Overall, while English is the official language of Kiribati, the I-Kiribati language holds immense importance as the primary means of communication among the Kiribati people, fostering a sense of unity and cultural pride.

The official language of Kiribati is Gilbertese, also known as Kiribati. This language is spoken by the majority of the population and is used in various aspects of everyday life, including government proceedings, education, and media. As a Polynesian language, Gilbertese has its own unique features and cultural significance within the country. While English is also widely spoken and used in official documents, it is considered a secondary language. Therefore, Gilbertese remains the primary and official language of Kiribati, reflecting the country’s rich cultural heritage and identity.

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