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Kiribati, officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 100,000 (2011), and the island nation is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, (1,351,000 square miles) straddling the equator, and bordering the International Date Line at its easternmost point.The name Kiribati is the local pronunciation of "Gilberts", derived from the main island chain, the Gilbert Islands, which in turn were named after the British explorer Thomas Gilbert, who discovered the islands. The capital, South Tarawa, consists of a number of islets connected through a series of causeways, located in the Tarawa archipelago. Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the IMF and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.EtymologyKiribati was named in French by captains Krusenstern and Louis Isidore Duperrey "îles Gilbert", Gilbert Islands, after the British Captain Thomas Gilbert, who sighted the islands in 1788. The current name, Kiribati, is an adaptation of "Gilberts", from the former European name the "Gilbert Islands". Although the indigenous Gilbertese language name for the Gilbert Islands proper is Tungaru, the new state chose the name "Kiribati", the Gilbertese rendition of "Gilberts", as an equivalent of the former colony to acknowledge the inclusion of islands which were never considered part of the Gilberts chain.