History

Early History

In Pacific Island legend, the origin of man is accounted for by a creation myth, with the Turtle and Spider gods creating the universe. Some myths recognise these as land gods, who were invaded and overtaken by the Eel and Stingray gods, who then created the universe.

Traditional legend tells of the spirits moving from Samoa to the Gilbert Islands. The spirits became half human and half spirit, and then a long time later changed into human beings. Many people in Kiribati believe their ancestors to be spirits, some from Samoa, and some from the Gilberts.

Known indigenously as “Tungaru”, the modern history of Kiribati is thought to begin with the arrival of Micronesians in the South Pacific, which took place between 200 and 500 AD.  However, some evidence points to migration from Southeast Asia/Indonesia area prior to this, moving into the Pacific around 3000 years ago.

Within these islands a Micronesia culture developed (though not called Micronesian until the Europeans later introduced this name), it was also infused with elements from Polynesian and Melanesian culture from invasions by neighbouring nations such as Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. The culture was also influenced through inter-marriages between theses countries, and later mainly from the influence of ‘Polynesian’ pastors.