Pacific Island nation of Kiribati plans mass relocation due to climate change

• March 8, 2012
Tarawa Village in Kirbati

Creative Commons: Brad Hinton, 2010

Rising sea levels created by the melting of Earth’s polar ice caps and glaciers pose such a threat to the low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati that its leader said this week they were in talks to purchase land in neighboring Fiji for a mass relocation of its citizens.

Kiribati President Anote Tong said that they were specifically eyeing land on the neighboring nation’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, according to published reports. Tong added that the mass migration was “our last resort” after a number of its tropical atolls vanished beneath the waves. None of the nation’s islands sit higher than two meters above sea level.

The nation has about 102,000 citizens spanning about 32 atolls across a size of the Pacific roughly equivalent to the continental United States, according to the U.S. State Department. One of the nation’s islands was the key site of a World War II battle that saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the war.

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