Kiribati Historical Background

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1300: Samoans, Fijians and Tongans merged with the older population.
1777: Discovered by British Captain Cook.
1800s: Whalers arrived in northern islands
1837: British settlers arrived
1850s: Protestant missionaries arrived
1857: Hiram Bingam, a Protestant minister on Abiang, devised a written form of the language
1886: British, German, and Americans traded with the islands. Some islanders were kidnapped and taken to Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, and Central America as slaves.
1888: The islands were annexed by Great Britain with a view to laying the Pacific cable with Tabuaeran (then Fanning Island) as a relay station. That cable functioned between 1902 and 1963 except for a short period in 1914 when German naval forces landed at Fanning to cut the cable.
1892: The Gilbert and Ellice Islands became a British protectorate. Headquarters were in Tarawa.
1880s: The Phoenix Islands were annexed by Britain
1900: Banaba was annexed by Britain, and mining of phosphates began until the total island’s soil was removed. The total population of the islands dwindled to about 300.
1915: The Gilbert and Ellice Islands became a British Crown Colony.
1919: Kiritimati (Christmas) Atoll became a part of the colony.
1935: The USA took over Howland and Baker islands
1937: The Phoenix Islands became a part of the British colony.
1938: The United States claimed sovereignty over Kanton and Enderbury
1939: The USA and Britain agreed to exercise joint control over the two islands for 50 years.
1941: Tarawa and others were occupied by Japan. All but one man in Banaba were massacred.
1943: U.S. forces reclaimed the islands. Inhabitants of Banaba were moved to Rabi Island, Fiji because of land loss.
1975: The Ellice Islands separated and became Tuvalu.
1979: Kiribati became an independent Republic that remains part of the British Commonwealth.