Tarawa Kiribati Temple
Geoff: First off, if you don’t watch Survivor or haven’t attended BYU-Hawaii, there’s a strong chance you’ve never heard of Kiribati, an archipelagic nation in the middle of the Pacific that gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979.
The Church has a surprisingly robust and dense presence across the country, which only has a population of approximately 100,000 people. There are two stakes and one district on the island of Tarawa alone. And just look at all those meetinghouses:
The scale is cropped out, but the atoll is 190 sq. miles with 50,000 people. There are 17 units on the atoll. That’s under 3,000 people—not members—per Church unit. Not bad. And this doesn’t speak to the Church’s presence throughout the rest of the country, which is strong.
The neighboring Marshall Islands has two stakes. The Federated States of Micronesia has one stake and two districts. Heck, there’s even a stake in Guam.
We have no temple in Micronesia or Melanesia. Kiribati and the Marshall Islands are currently assigned to the Laie Hawaii Temple, and Guam and the Fed. States of Micronesia are assigned to the Manila Philippines Temple. So yeah, We kinda need a temple in this neck of the woods.
Joe: While I definitely think a case, a good case, could be made for this Gilbertonian atoll, I refer you back to our official prediction for Praia, Cape Verde, where I queried “If you are an island nation in Polynesia and you have a decent population of Latter-day Saints, you get a temple. Why not island nations of other oceans?” The question was not rhetorical, Geoff. Then again, famed travel humorist J. Maarten Troost observed, while living in Tarawa, Kiribati that no matter how “off grid” one thinks one goes, there are always smiling Mormon missionaries already there. Maybe he was on to something.