|Currency Name||Kiribati Dollar|
The dollar is the currency of Kiribati. It is pegged at 1:1 ratio to the Australian dollar. Coins were issued in 1979 and circulate alongside banknotes and coins of the Australian dollar.
Before independence, Australian coins were used in Kiribati (then called the Gilbert Islands) from 1966 until 1979. Previous to Australia's introduction of the dollar, the Australian pound was chiefly used throughout the islands, though Gilbert and Ellice Islands banknotes issued in the 1940s were also in use and were redeemable for Pound Sterling at face value.
During Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II, the Oceanian pound, an all banknote currency created by the Japanese Government to be a universal currency for the pacific, was in use. The Australian pound was restored as the official national currency after the war ended.
A call to issue coinage for an independent Kiribati in 1979 was made to legitimise its new political status, and although Australian banknotes would be used, the decision to issue domestic coins was widely favoured and accepted. A two dollar coin was later introduced to replace the note and celebrate the nation's tenth anniversary.
Kiribati's first coins were introduced in 1979 following independence and were directly pegged to the Australian dollar. The coins were issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 dollar.
Except for the 50 cents and 1 dollar pieces, all of these coins are the same size, weight, and composition as the corresponding Australian coins, with the 1 and 2 cent pieces composed of bronze and the 5, 10, 20, 50, and $1 being composed of cupro-nickel. As usual for other pacific island states, only the lower denominations (1-20 cent) share any commonality, with the largest denominations being unique to their respective countries. The 50 cent piece is round with reeded edges, unlike the dodecagonal (twelve sided) Australian equivalent. The Kiribati 1 dollar is the same twelve sided shape as the Australian 50 cent coin, but it is smaller and weighs about 4½ grams less than both the Australian and Kiribati half dollars.
In 1989, nickel-brass 2 dollar coins were introduced coinciding with Kiribati's tenth anniversary of independence, and followed Australia's issuance of its 2 dollar coin and withdrawal of the 2 dollar note in 1988. The Kiribati $2 piece is round and much larger than the Australia's comparatively tiny $2 piece, with the same circumference of the 20 cent coin and a thickness similar to the British 1 Pound coin.
Most Kiribati coins are dated 1979, marking an event to coincide with independence, but with some exception. In 1992, Kiribati began producing 1 and 2 cent pieces in copper-clad steel and 5 cent pieces in nickel-clad steel restruck off of 1979 planchets. These coins are distinct in their lustre and obvious attraction to a magnet and were produced to compensate for Australia's discontinuation of the two lowest denominations. However, a small mintage of the 1992 issue 1 cent was struck in bronze. 10, 20, 50, and $1 coins have yet to appear as later issues and do not appear to be restrike coins. So most of the denominations remain as a single date issue. Although Kiribati retained 1 and 2 cent coins well after Australia demoted theirs, redundancy and devaluation has slowly removed these coins from general circulation.
Kiribati no longer issues local coinage and hasn't now for quite some time, so most examples are either uncirculated from the bank or heavily used. Australian coinage has also become more frequent than local coinage in more populated regions for these reasons as the government feels it more practical and cost effective to use Australian coins rather than mint additional Kiribati coins.
The primary side of all Kiribati coins depicts the national crest, while the obverse depict flora, fauna, and items of cultural importance to the islands. The coins were designed by sculptor and engraver Michael Hibbit.