2020 Stamp Programme
- 31 August 2020: Solar Power in Kiribati
Kiribati (/ˌkɪrɪˈbæs, -ˈbɑːti/), officially the Republic of Kiribati (Gilbertese: [Ribaberiki] Kiribati) is an independent country in the central Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 110,000 (2015), more than half of whom live on Tarawa atoll. The state comprises 32 atolls and one raised coral island, Banaba. They have a total land area of 811 square kilometres (313 square miles) and are dispersed over 3.5 million km² (1.4 million sq mi).
Their spread straddles the equator and the 180th meridian, although the International Date Line goes round Kiribati and swings far to the east, almost reaching the 150° W meridian. This brings Kiribati’s easternmost islands, the southern Line Islands south of Hawaii, into the same day as the Gilbert Islands and places them in the most advanced time zone on Earth: UTC+14. Kiribati is one of the few countries in the world to be situated in all four hemispheres.
Kiribati was formerly the Gilbert Islands, part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands which split into Kiribati and Tuvalu upon gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1978 and 1979. The capital, South Tarawa, now the most populated area, consists of a number of islets, connected by a series of causeways. These comprise about half the area of Tarawa atoll.
Kiribati is a member of the Pacific Community (SPC), Commonwealth of Nations, the IMF, and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.
The Gilbert and Ellice Islands were a British protectorate from 1892 and colony from 1916. The first mail service to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands was ad hoc, depending on which ships were calling at the various islands. A regular service began in 1911; Edward VII postage stamps of Fiji were overprinted GILBERT & ELLICE / PROTECTORATE and put on sale on 1 January of that year, followed in March by a set of four stamps depicting a Pandanus tree, inscribed GILBERT & ELLICE ISLANDS / PROTECTORATE.
These were followed in 1912 by George V stamps of the common type, inscribed GILBERT & ELLICE ISLANDS. A new definitive series came out starting 14 January 1939, featuring local scenery and a profile of George VI. These were updated in 1956 with a profile of Elizabeth II.
The definitive series of 1965 depicted daily activities of the natives, but a decimal currency conversion necessitated surcharges in 1966 and a reissue of the stamps in 1968. The colony issued about 10-15 stamps per year thereafter, usually as sets of four, until the end of 1975.
In 1976, the islands became two separate colonies and later independent as Kiribati and Tuvalu.
The Gilbert Islands issued stamps under that name before attaining independence on 12 July 1979 as the Republic of Kiribati. The first stamps of Kiribati were a pair issued on 19 November 1979 to mark the independence of the country.
The Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau was established on 1 January 1976, which was the day the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony was dissolved and Tuvalu established as a separate British dependency. The first stamp issue was a set of provisional overprinted definitive stamps and a commemorative set of three stamps. The first postage stamp cancellation devices were put into use the same day.