Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas…Island?

As we approach the holiday season, we think it is finally time to answer that age-old question: What’s the deal with Christmas Island?

Well, dear readers…we have some shocking news for you. It turns out that there are actually two Christmas Islands! (Who knew?)

Here’s some more information about the two Christmas Islands:

1. Christmas Island (Territory of Australia)

So named because of its discovery on Christmas Day in 1643, Christmas Island became a territory of Australia in 1958 after spending a number of years under British sovereignty. The island is primarily rainforest, and 63% of the Island has been designated a national park. The population of the island is small — around 1,400 people. The primary ethnic groups represented are Chinese (70%), European (20%), and Malay (10%). While the official language of the island is English, Chinese and Malay are also spoken.

Flag of Christmas Island

Location of Christmas Island

2. Kiritimati AKA Christmas Island (Part of the Line Islands, a district of Kiribati)

Kiribati is a country comprised of 33 coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, including three island groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, and the Phoenix Islands. The Line Islands, where Kiritimati (Christmas Island) is located, can be found in the central Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii.  Kiritimati (where the ‘ti’ combinations are pronounced as ‘s’) is the world’s largest coral atoll, and has a population of approximately 5,100. The island was discovered on Christmas Eve in 1777 by explorer James Cook, thus the reason for the island’s festive name.

A fun fact about the country of Kiribati: it is the only country in the world to fall into all four hemispheres (northern, southern, eastern, and western).

Flag of Kiribati

Location of Kiribati

So there you have it. Some information about Christmas Island (and the other Christmas Island, too). If you’d like some additional information on either of the islands, check out some of the links below. And happy holidays from everyone here at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh!

Australian Government: Christmas Island National Parks

CIA World FactBook: Christmas Island

CIA World FactBook: Kiribati

Lonely Planet: Christmas Island (Kiritimati)

Wikipedia: Christmas Island*

Wikipedia: Kiritimati*

*Please consider this a disclaimer that the opinions expressed on the above
resources are not those of the World Affairs Council and that you should
always verify your sources, especially when visiting sites like Wikipedia.

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