group of islands in the WC Pacific which in 1979 became the independent nation of Kiribati
See Gilbert Islands in American Heritage Dictionary 4
A group of islands of western Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean. Inhabited by a mixture of Polynesian and Melanesian peoples, the islands were first visited by the British in 1765, made a protectorate in 1892, and later became part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony (1915-1976). Full independence as the principal islands of Kiribati was achieved in 1979.