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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK
Kiribati voters go to the polls
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Map of Kiribati Islands
Voters in the tiny South Pacific nation of Kiribati are going to the polls to cast ballots in a general election.

A total of 146 candidates are contesting the election, in which education and employment are dominant themes.

The Kiribati archipelago comprises more than 30 coral atolls that straddle the equator.

Some of the atolls are threatened by rising sea levels, an issue which is a key concern for many voters.

Fishing and farming

Most of the candidates in the Kiribati election represent either the Pillars of Truth party or the main opposition.

All 44 MPs are contesting the ballot, including the President, Anote Tong, who led the last government.

The population of just over 100,000 is growing, but job opportunities are becoming increasingly scarce.

The economy is based on fishing and subsistence farming. The average annual income is less than US$700 (350).

Most of the islands of Kiribati are low-lying coral atolls that lie on top of a submerged volcanic chain and are surrounded by reefs.

Rising sea levels are causing great alarm.

Kiribati has asked its neighbours across the South Pacific to take in environmental refugees if the worst should happen and communities are inundated.

The signs are not good. Storm surges and unusually high tides have destroyed some homes. They have also contaminated farm land and supplies of drinking water.

Timeline: Kiribati
04 Jun 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Kiribati
04 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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