The Battle of Tarawa (9. -10. December 1941) was a fierce battle between the attacking US-Americans and the defending Japanese, just 2 days after the Pearl Harbour incident (but 4.000 km away ...), where US bombardments killed as many as 750 innocent Tarawa islander civilians, 90% of the Korean forced laborers (1.071) and 99.9% of the Japanese soldiers (4.690). Plenty of war remainders can be seen on the islands up to today.
American butts got kicked too (Foto below: Wikipedia). However only less than 2% of US troops (1.009 out of 54.000). Even this caused an uproar in the US.
"Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bonhomme Richard, the Alamo, Little Bighorn, and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa."
— Robert Sherrod, Time Magazine War Correspondent, 6 December 1943
Nowadays Tarawa is a Pacific jewel, a UN member country, part of the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) and the Gilbert Islands. Postcard views at every corner.
Arrival at Bonriki International Airport, Tarawa.
The George Hotel Kiribati is the best hotel on Tarawa.
The Tabon Te Keekee is the most romantic hotel on the islands, however in rather remote North Tarawa.
North Tarawa can be reached by a combination of rental car ...
... an inter-island bridge ...
... and a motorised pirogue.
With my fellow extreme travelers and country collectors Per and Harald ...
... drinking from coconuts at the Tabon te Keekee Hotel in North Tarawa.
Extraordinarily friendly kids and people in Tarawa.
Our Battle of the South Pacific (as country collectors) was for remote UN countries, such as Kiribati (TRW), Nauru (INU), Tuvalu (FUN).
Unfortunately our hub had to be Fiji (NAD & SUV), where we were interrogated at Nadi Airport in the most unfriendly way for our "unusual" travel behavior (in and out flights for three days in a row, well-dressed, with very small luggage). This had previously only happened to me in known lawless and rogue regimes, such as Gabon, Uzbekistan or the US, but not in prima facie tourist-friendly countries such as Fiji.
FCUK THE FIJI BORDER CONTROL
Friendly red carpet instead in Nauru.
And likewise in Tuvalu: Funafuti has an international airport like in the good old days: no security control, no fences, no state terror at all. Loved it.
Now there is only one more UN country point left on my bucket list: Eritrea !