• Solomon Islands!

    Solomon Islands: Looking up at palm trees. Go Now!

    Solomon Islands
    This Melanesian country is best known for its many islands and beaches... and this natural landscape (pictured) is why most people go. Don't miss out on the unique Melanesian culture and foods though! Begin Your Journey!

  • Tonga!

    Tonga: Coastline. Go Now!

    The heart of Polynesian culture is rooted in Tonga, but most visitors just come for the natural beauty. Explore Tonga!

  • Vanuatu!

    Vanuatu: Jetty into the ocean. Go Now!

    Picturesque serenity is a good way to describe Vanuatu, but the culture offers much more, including the inspiration for bungee jumping, which remains a rite of passage for young men. Explore Vanuatu!

  • Palau!

    Palau: "70 Islands!" Go Now!

    Few people have even heard of this small Micronesian country, but those who have often return with stories of beauty unmatched elsewhere, such as view of the "70 Islands" (pictured). Go Now!

  • Explore the: Federated States of Micronesia!

    Federated States of Micronesia: Overlooking some islands. Go Now!

    Federated States of Micronesia
    This diverse country stretches for thousands of miles and has the diversity to prove it, including the people from Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap among others. Begin Your Journey!

  • Samoa!

    Samoa: A traditional home. Go Now!

    Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match. Begin Your Journey!

KiribatiThe name Kiribati is pronounced "KIRR-i-bas."

Kiribati is actually the local interpretation of the former English name of the islands, the Gilbert Islands. The islands were named after British Captain Thomas Gilbert who saw the islands in 1788 and the locals interpreted the "Gilberts" as Kiribati.


The early settlers to Kiribati had a difficult existence since the islands are coral reefs so there are few options in terms of plant and animal life. This made survival very difficult as most people developed a lifestyle focused on the seas and the little the lands offered. Even today the people remain tied to the lands and seas in many ways, but technology, particularly transportation, has made life today much easier as the people have access to numerous goods.

Despite the challenges associated with survival, the people created a lifestyle based on the world around them and slowly developed a unique culture. Although most people are primarily ethnically and linguistically Melanesian, nearly everyone has some Polynesian ancestry and the Polynesians also strongly influenced their culture. Due to heavy contact with the Tongans and other Polynesian people, the culture that developed on the islands was more similar to that of Polynesia than that of Melanesia, although this varied from island to island in this far-stretching archipelago country.

Even with the arrival of Europeans to the South Pacific, there was little immediately impact on the culture of Kiribati, although many people did die due to European diseases. The Europeans had little interest in colonizing or settling these coral reefs so primarily left the people alone. However, many Europeans and Americans stopped on expeditions, particularly whaling expeditions, slowly introducing the people to new technologies and a changing lifestyle. In a more dramatic fashion, missionaries arrived to the islands and converted many people to Christianity. This changed the culture in many ways, from the obvious like building and attending church to a change in clothing as the people became more modest.

In the 1900s the culture continued changing, particularly due to American, British, and other European influence. The country was also formed, uniting various island chains that had many similarities in culture, language, and lifestyle, but were never truly one. Since this time the people have created a more unified culture and lifestyle, which shares similarities and incorporates new technology and communication. However, for many people their culture begins with their local community, island, or island chain and for all of these people their culture and lifestyle remains rooted in their Melanesian and Polynesian past.

Information for Kiribati was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks