Kiribati - Migration



For the islanders, migration has been a perennial form of escape from drought and starvation. In the 19th century, recruiting ships forcibly took Gilbert Islanders for plantation work in Hawaii, Australia, Fiji, and Peru; some voluntarily reenlisted after the great drought of 1870. Although the majority eventually returned home, it is reckoned that between 1860 and 1890 some 10,000 islanders of a total population of 30,000 were overseas. In the 20th century, Fiji and the Solomon Islands continued to be popular places for Gilbert Islanders in search of work. Internal migration was mainly to Banaba Island for work in the phosphate industry until 1979, and since then to Nauru or to copra plantations in the Line Islands. During 1988–93, 4,700 people were resettled on Teraira and Tabuaeran atolls of the Line Islands because of overcrowding on the main island group. In 1999 the net migration rate was -0.77 migrants per 1,000 population. The total number of migrants in 2000 was 2,000. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

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