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Land Ownership

The total land area in Kiribati is only 811 sq km (313 sq mi). The land area of each of the atolls is very small.

There are three main island groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands.

Gaining access to land is one of the major constraints for economic development in Kiribati.

Gilbert Islands

In the Gilbert Islands land is unevenly distributed among the people and owned either on an individual or kin basis.

Kin land is normally registered in the name of the oldest male member of the kin group.

Individually owned land, including land which have been purchased, is normally registered in the name of the individual or individuals.

The Government leases some land on South Tarawa from traditional landowners for administrative and public use. The traditional landowners are unable to utilise their land for subsistence so can no longer benefit from their land as they no longer have access to it. The amount of rent is often small - as little as $20 a year.

This land tenure system has proven to be limiting on the productivity and development of agriculture.

Phoenix and Line Islands

The atolls in the Phoenix and Line Islands are owned by the Government.

With resettlement of people from the Gilbert group to Tabuaeran and Teraina atolls in the Line Group, some land has been sold to individuals on a freehold basis.

Long term residents on Kiritimati atoll have also purchased land of about half an acre per purchase.

Land is also available on a leasehold basis.