The combination of high population growth and a lack of employment on the outer islands is causing the population to drift to Tarawa, the capital and main seat of government. About 43.5 per cent of the population lives on South Tarawa and the population density is high, especially on the islet of Betio. The population of Kiribati is expected to double over the next 20 years, exacerbating already serious environmental, urban management and health problems.
Ocean resources are the mainstay of the economy. An estimated 80 per cent of households make a living through fishing. Agricultural opportunities are limited. There is also only limited opportunity for overseas investment due to the size of the economy, the remote and dispersed geography of Kiribati and the limited international and internal transport links.
Living standards are improving. However, social indicators remain poor by regional standards. The Kiribati Development Plan 2008–2011 (KDP) identifies 6 key policy areas: Human Resource Development, Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction, Health, Environment, Governance and Infrastructure. These goals are broadly consistent with the MDGs, and an explicit statement is made in the KDP about its contribution to achievement of the MDGs.
Last reviewed: 5 April, 2012