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Exploring Christmas Island, An Australian External Territory

Christmas Island, officially the Territory of Christmas Island, is an Australian external territory comprising the island of the same name.

Kiritimati (also known as Christmas Island) is a Pacific Ocean atoll in the northern Line Islands.

It is located in the Indian Ocean, around 350 kilometres (220 mi) south of Java and Sumatra and around 1,550 km (960 mi) north-west of the closest point on the Australian mainland.

It lies 2,600 km (1,600 mi) northwest of Perth and 1,327 km (825 mi) south of Singapore. It has an area of 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi).

Christmas Island had a population of 1,692 residents as of 2021, the majority living in settlements on the northern edge of the island.

The main settlement is Flying Fish Cove. Historically, Asian Australians of Chinese, Malay, and Indian descent formed the majority of the population.

Today, around two-thirds of the island’s population is estimated to have Straits Chinese origin (though just 22.2% of the population declared a Chinese ancestry in 2021), with significant numbers of Malays and European Australians and smaller numbers of Straits Indians and Eurasians.

Several languages are in use, including English, Malay, and various Chinese dialects. Islam and Buddhism are major religions on the island. The religion question in the Australian census is optional and 28% of the population do not declare their religious belief, if any.

The first European to sight Christmas Island was Richard Rowe of the Thomas in 1615. Captain William Mynors named it on Christmas Day (25 December) 1643.

It was first settled in the late 19th century.

Christmas Island’s geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of endemism among its flora and fauna, which is of interest to scientists and naturalists.

The majority (63 percent) of the island is included in the Christmas Island National Park, which features several areas of primary monsoonal forest. Phosphate, deposited originally as guano, has been mined on the island since 1899.


Christmas Island has 80 kilometres (50 mi) of shoreline but only small parts of the shoreline are easily accessible.

The island’s perimeter is dominated by sharp cliff faces, making many of the island’s beaches difficult to get to.

Some of the easily accessible beaches include Flying Fish Cove (main beach), Lily Beach, Ethel Beach, and Isabel Beach, while the more difficult beaches to access include Greta Beach, Dolly Beach, Winifred Beach, Merrial Beach, and West White Beach, which all require a vehicle with four wheel drive and a difficult walk through dense rainforest.

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