Tarawa is an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, previously the capital of the former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. It is the location of the capital of the Republic of Kiribati, South Tarawa. The island is best known by outsiders as the site of the Battle of Tarawa during World War II. The population as of 1990 was 28,802. The population is mostly Gilbertese (Micronesian). This probably exceeds the carrying capacity of the islands and is maintained at its current level without starvation principally due to foreign aid, largely from the United Kingdom, Japan and New Zealand.