Kiribati comprises the Gilbert Islands (including Banaba), the Phoenix Group, and the Line Islands (including Kiritimati), formerly part of the British Gilbert and Ellice Islands. The state became Kiribati in 1979 and its map base is derived from British mapping carried out immediately before and after independence. The Directorate of Overseas Surveys (now Ordnance Survey International (OSI)) mapped Marakei at 1:12,500 scale in 1972, and a series of 1:25,000 scale orthophotomaps was completed for the rest of the Gilberts in the period 1977-82. These maps are full-color, uncontoured, and use the Transverse Mercator projection, International ellipsoid, with UTM grid. Other larger scale mapping of the most important islands was carried out, with 19 sheets at 1:2,500 scale published for southern Tarawa, and four 1:1,250 scale plans covering Betio. There are plans to update the Tarawa 1:2,500 scale series with new aerial coverage and to generate digital coverage. 1:50,000 scale coverage of Kiritimati and Tarawa was also published in the 1980s, with the main island revised several times since and a two sheet general map of Kiribati was issued in 1984 at 1:2,000,000 scale. A second phase of British mapping activity in the 1990s covered unmapped islands in Kiribati and resulted in maps of islands in the Line and Phoenix groups at 1:25,000 or 1:10,000 scale, Banaba also being covered in a new map at this scale.
The national mapping agency established with British aid is the Kiribati Land and Surveys Division (KLSD), which maintains dyeline mapping of different atolls, scales depending upon the size of the islands, and which has jointly published more recent maps in the photomap series. KLSD has also started to compile digital data for the islands of Kiribati.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Kiribati exists at the following scale: 1:1,000,000 (12 sheets complete coverage, published 1964-1965). This product is available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
Almost no thematic mapping is currently available for Kiribati. Land resource mapping of Kiribati from DOS was compiled in the 1960s. Recent cooperative initiatives have began to broaden the thematic coverage and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) has published small-scale bathymetric maps, and large-scale coverage of the Tarawa in its bathymetric series. The group as a whole appears on (Admiralty Chart 731) published by the British Hydrographic Office (HO).