the republic of Kiribati consists of 33 atolls in three island groups: the Gilbert, Phoenix, and Line groups, located between 1 degree north longitude and 173 degrees east latitude. The land area of 313 sq. mi. (810.5 sq. km.) is scattered over 1.4 million sq. mi. (3.5 million sq. km.) of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), extending 2,485 mi. (4,000 km.) from west to east and about 1,243 mi. (2,000 km.) from north to south. The natural resource endowment is poor. Only Banaba is volcanic; the other 32 islands are low-lying coral atolls with soils of very poor quality and not useful for agricultural production. Soils are highly alkaline, calcareous, and shallow, with low water-holding capacity, little organic material, and few available nutrients. Drinking water is received from slightly brackish freshwater lenses, which collect rainwater and are part of the porous surface. With a growth rate 1995-2000 of 1.8 percent per year, an estimated 97,000 people lived in Kiribati in 2007.
Kiribati is facing increased urbanization, with densities of up to 2,581 people per sq. mi. (1,600 people per sq. km.) in Betio, Tarawa. Urbanization is problematic when considering a lack of infrastructure, especially regarding fresh water supply, sewage, and sewer options. Sea-level rise and the increased occurrence of high tidal waves has forced people to move away from lagoon and ocean-side coastal proximity, which is difficult on urban South Tarawa, where population pressures force people to live in closer proximity. As one of the consequences, people have built stone walls for protection. Coastal erosion has increased because of stone walls manipulating wave movements. This is similar to the effect of the construction of causeways. Sand extraction, which is needed for buildings and facilities, accelerates these effects.
With increased urbanization, families are also faced with changes in land tenure, which can cause cultural tension when considering that coastal erosion and sea level rise have led to different allocations, mainly land loss. The Kiribati government has repeatedly called on the international community to address the issue of climate change as, together with other low-atoll environments in the Pacific, Kiribati is threatened by sea-level rise. Kiribati, as well as Tuvalu, depends on international political empathy. There is fear that, in the future, the people of Kiribati could become environmental refugees. Existing migration schemes for Kiribati are small,
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