Tarawa has a large lagoon, 500 square kilometres (193 square miles) in total area, and a wide reef. Although naturally abundant in fish and shellfish of all kinds, marine resources are being strained by the large and growing population. Drought is frequent, but in normal years rainfall is sufficient to maintain breadfruit, papaya and banana trees as well as coconut and pandanus.
In Kiribati mythology, Tarawa was the earth when the land, ocean and sky had not been cleaved yet by Nareau the spider. Thus after calling the sky karawa and the ocean marawa, he called the piece of rock that Riiki (another god that Nareau found) had stood upon when he lifted up the sky as, Tarawa. Nareau then created the rest of the islands in Kiribati and also Samoa.
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