Tarawa is an atoll in the Republic of Kiribati, in the central Pacific Ocean. It comprises North Tarawa, which has much in common with other, more remote islands of the Gilberts group; and South Tarawa, which is the capital of Kiribati and home to over 50,000 people - half of the country's total population. The atoll is best known by outsiders as the site of the Battle of Tarawa during World War II.
Tarawa has a large lagoon, of over 500 km2, and a wide reef. Although naturally abundant in fish and shellfish of all kinds, marine resources are being overharvested by the large and growing population. Drought is frequent, but in normal years rainfall is sufficient to maintain breadfruit, papaya and banana trees as well as coconut and pandanus.
North Tarawa consists of a string of islets, separated in places by wide channels that are best crossed at low tide. On South Tarawa, the construction of causeways has now created a single strip of land from Betio in the West to Buota in the Northeast.