Kiribati is an independent island nation in the central Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is over 119,000. The state comprises 32 atolls and one raised coral island, Banaba. There is a total land area of 811 square kilometres dispersed over 3.5 million km2 of ocean.
Kiribati contains three ecosystems: Central Polynesian tropical moist forests, Eastern Micronesia tropical moist forests, and Western Polynesian tropical moist forests.
Because of the relatively young geological age of the islands and atolls and high level of soil salination, the flora of Kiribati is somewhat unhealthy. The Gilbert Islands contain about 83 indigenous and 306 introduced plants, whereas the corresponding numbers for Line and Phoenix Islands are 67 and 283. None of these species are endemic, and about half of the indigenous ones have a limited distribution and became endangered or nearly extinct due to human activities such as phosphate mining.
Coconut, pandanus palms and breadfruit trees are the most common wild plants, whereas the five most cultivated crops but the traditional Babai, Cyrtosperma merkusii, are imported Chinese cabbage, pumpkin, tomato, watermelon and cucumber. Over eighty per cent of the population participates in either farming or fishing.
Seaweed farming is an important part of the economy, with two major species Eucheuma alcarezii and Eucheuma spinosium introduced to the local lagoons from the Philippines in 1977. It competes with collection of the black-lipped pearl oyster and shellfish, which are dominated by the strombid gastropod and Anadara cockles, whereas the stocks of the giant clam have been largely exhausted.
Kiribati has a few land mammals, none being indigenous or endemic. They include the Polynesian rat, dogs, cats and pigs. Among the 75 bird species, the Bokikokiko is endemic to Kiritimati.
There are 600–800 species of inshore and pelagic finfish, some 200 species of corals and about 1000 species of shellfish. Fishing mostly targets the family Scombridae, particularly the skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna as well as flying fish,
Dogs were already accompanying the first inhabitants but were re-introduced by European settlers: they have continued to grow in numbers and are roaming in traditional packs, particularly around South Tarawa.