Kiribati was first settled between 200 and 500 AD. Today Kiribati is an independent republic and comprises the Gilbert, Phoenix and Line groups of islands. There are some 30 low-lying coral islands with a total land area of over 800 square kilometers. The capital is Tarawa and the population of 65,000 is mainly Micronesian. English is the official language, but Gilbertese and Kiribati are the main local languages. The country became a republic in 1979.