Kiribati: Natural disasters and climate change

Being smack bang in the South Pacific, Kiribati is not without exposure to natural hazards..

Kiribati's location puts it in the path of numerous types of natural disasters. First, it sits in an area of extreme seismic activity that experiences earthquakes underwater. This movement can produce another disaster: tsunamis.

Because of poor infrastructure standards, residents often are not notified of an impeding tsunami. Anyone who does find themselves in the grips of an approaching wave should go to higher ground or somewhere higher up in the place in which they're staying.

Rain storms can also produce flooding on the islands. Cyclones are also possible on the atolls between November and April.

(Wreckage from WWII slowly sinks into the sea)

Climate Change

Another natural issue seriously affecting Kiribati is climate change, which is causing rising tides to consume the islands. Predictions claim that the sea in the area will rise a full meter by the year 2100. At its highest point, the island is only 4-metres-tall. In addition, almost all of the population lives about a kilometer from the coast.

The wet season can be hit or miss on the islands, but prepare for it if traveling between early November and late April.

On the converse, extreme drought can also strike the atolls, which may force the government to restrict water use.

While the sun can get hot, it's more the humidity that can cause uncomfortable conditions for locals and travelers alike. Remember, if you need to cool off, don't do it in the South Tarawa lagoon!

Coral, Sharks and Squalls

When you do find a sanitary spot in which to swim, beware of the sharp edges of the reefs, which can injure an unsuspecting swimmer.

Sharks and other marine life are plentiful around reefs and sighted within swimming distance of the beaches.

Anyone who goes out on a boat should bring the right safety equipment, as squalls can develop quickly. Drownings have occurred due to unpredictable seas.

On land, you'll want to watch out for falling coconuts, which can produce quite a headache if they thump you in the head, and wild dogs.

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