The Gilbert and Ellice Islands are a British constituent country, located in the Pacific Ocean. The country comprises four coral islands and thirty-eight atolls, a total of 837 square kilometres of land, spread across millions of square kilometres of ocean. The Gilbert and Ellice Islands are home to a population of 114,337 people.
The first inhabitants of the islands were Polynesians. The Gilbert Islands were named after the British explorer Thomas Gilbert, who sailed through the islands in 1788, while the name "Ellice Islands" was given by English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay. The islands were joined together in 1892 as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, and were granted the status of a full member of the British Empire under the Empire Act in 1938.
Because of their strategic location between Canada and Oceania, the islands are frequently used as a stopover for flights between Canada and Australia or New Zealand, though this has become less frequent as airliner ranges have increased in recent years.