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We are a central Pacific nation comprising three atolls lying to the north of Samoa and south of the Phoenix Islands of Kiribati, and centred on latitude 9o S. The areas of the atolls are roughly similar – Atafu c.350 ha, Nukunonu c.500 ha and Fakaofo c.400 ha – and each gaining only a few metres elevation. All three islands are classic atolls being at the summit of ancient, raised seamounts projecting upward about 5000 m from the seabed, and with large open lagoons which have shallow passages to the sea in many places.