is an atoll
in the Gilbert Islands
, south of Tarawa
. The atoll consists of two main islands, Eanikai in the north, and Nuguti in the south, and several smaller islets in between along the eastern rim of the atoll. The atoll has a total land area of 38 km², while the lagoon
measures 365 km². The population numbered 4,899 in 2005.
While most atolls of the Gilbert Islands correspondent to local government areas governed by island councils, Tabiteuea, like the main atoll Tarawa, is divided into two:
- Tabiteuea North has a land area of 26 km² and a population of 3,600 as of 2005, distributed among 12 villages (capital Utiroa)
- Tabiteuea South has a land area of 12 km² and a population of 1,299, distributed among 6 villages (capital Buariki)
"Tabiteuea" is Gilbertese for "land of no chiefs"; the island is traditionally egalitarian. In the late 19th century, the two islands were the site of a religious war when the populace of Tabiteuea North converted to Christianity and, led by a man called Kapu who had assembled a "hymn-singing army on a crusade", invaded and conquered Tabiteuea South (which had maintained traditional religious practice).