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Kiribati Country Report

Country Risk Level


Overview

Executive Summary

The political landscape will remain broadly stable in Kiribati, with President Taneti Maamau gaining a strong mandate with an unexpectedly wide victory margin in the June 2020 presidential election.Rapid population growth has strained infrastructure, and overcrowding is a particular problem on the capital island of South Tarawa. Countries such as Australia and international bodies such as the UN Development Programme and the Asian Development Bank are providing assistance, but further investment and time are required.The small number of foreign visitors to Kiribati face negligible risks of kidnap, death and injury, or detention over the next year. However, poor infrastructure and procedures pose a risk: in January 2018, 75 people drowned after a ferry sank on a journey between the islands. Criminal violence levels are generally low.Economic activity is dominated by the public and primary sectors, bolstered in recent years by significant improvements in fishing licence revenues. Given Kiribati's remoteness and lack of economic development, economic growth is regularly boosted by foreign development partner-financed infrastructure projects.

Operational Outlook

Rapid population growth has strained infrastructure, and overcrowding is a particular problem on the capital island of South Tarawa. Countries such as Australia and international bodies such as the United National Development Programme and the Asian Development Bank are providing assistance, but further investment and time are required. Kiribati's restoration of formal diplomatic relations with China in September 2019 and its subsequent participation in China's Belt and Road Initiative will likely provide a substantial injection of infrastructure investment, although ensuring efficient and transparent deployment of funds will be a challenge. Kiribati has also set up a Financial Intelligence Unit to record and report suspicious transactions.

Terrorism

There is no known risk of terrorism.

Crime

Crime risks in Kiribati are low. The main risk is from petty theft, and women in particular are advised to exercise caution if travelling alone, particularly at night. Drug and human trafficking remain major problems across the Pacific Islands, which can act as transhipment points for drugs en route to Australia and New Zealand. Occasional reports of drugs washed ashore in Kiribati highlight the existence of this ongoing trade. That said, there are strict laws regarding the possession and trafficking of drugs and firearms, and large parts of Kiribatian society remain strongly socially and religiously conservative.

War Risks

Kiribati is unable to effectively patrol its territorial waters but sporadically intercepts foreign vessels engaged in alleged illegal fishing operations. Kiribati does not have a military, but maintains a national police force and a coast guard to provide for the country's security. Security-related assistance is provided primarily by Australia and New Zealand.

Social Stability

Protests usually involve fewer than 100 people and are peaceful in nature. The relocation of communities to reduce overcrowding on Kiribati's main islands has increased the risk of land disputes. These risks are exacerbated by the threat of climate change and rising sea levels.

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal