Even with the arrival of Europeans to the South Pacific, there was little immediately
impact on the culture of Kiribati, although many people did die due to European
diseases. The Europeans had little interest in colonizing or settling these coral
reefs so primarily left the people alone. However, many Europeans and Americans
stopped on expeditions, particularly whaling expeditions, slowly introducing the
people to new technologies and a changing lifestyle. In a more dramatic fashion,
missionaries arrived to the islands and converted many people to Christianity. This
changed the culture in many ways, from the obvious like building and attending church
to a change in clothing as the people became more modest.
In the 1900s the culture continued changing, particularly due to American, British,
and other European influence. The country was also formed, uniting various island
chains that had many similarities in culture, language, and lifestyle, but were
never truly one. Since this time the people have created a more unified culture
and lifestyle, which shares similarities and incorporates new technology and communication.
However, for many people their culture begins with their local community, island,
or island chain and for all of these people their culture and lifestyle remains
rooted in their Melanesian and Polynesian past.