The Republic of Kiribati celebrates its Independence Day on July 12. It is the country’s national holiday that commemorates the independence of Kiribati from the United Kingdom in 1979.
Kiribati is a small island country in the central Pacific Ocean, comprising 32 atolls and reef islands and one raised coral island of Banaba. The country’s total population is just over 110,000. The islands which now form the Republic of Kiribati were first inhabited by Micronesians thousands of years ago.
The area was occasionally visited by Polynesian and Melanesian invaders from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji before the first arrival of European ships. The first European to sight the islands was Portuguese navigator. In the 19th century, merchant vessels, black birders and whalers began to arrive in great numbers, which resulted in dire consequences.
In an attempt to bring a semblance of order to the region, Great Britain established a protectorate over the Gilbert Islands and the neighboring Ellice Islands in 1892. In 1967, the Constitution of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony was adopted. It created the House of Representatives and the Government Council.
In December 1974, a referendum was held to determine whether the two groups of islands should be administered jointly or each has its own administration. According to its results, two separate administrations were created in 1976. The Ellice Islands declared their independence as Tuvalu in 1978, and the Gilbert Islands became the independent Republic of Kiribati on July 12, 1979.
Independence Day is the national holiday of Kiribati. National Day festivities usually last for several days. To commemorate the independence Kiribati post issued a set of two postage stamps with the denomination of 10 and 45 cents depicting national flag and house of parliament and assembly respectively.
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