Christmas Island

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Christmas Island,

tropical island (2001 pop. 1,508), 60 sq mi (155 sq km), an external territory of Australia, in the Indian Ocean c.200 mi (320 km) S of Java. The majority of the inhabitants are descendants of Chinese and Malays who came to work the extensive phosphate deposits. Mining began in the 1890s and stopped in 1987 as high-quality deposits were exhausted. It was revived in 1990 to extract lower-grade phosphate. Much of the island is now a national park, and there is limited tourism. The island was annexed by Great Britain in 1888 and became part of the former Straits SettlementsStraits Settlements,
collective name for certain former British colonies in Southeast Asia. The three British East India Company territories of Pinang, Singapore, and Malacca (see Melaka) were given a unified administration in 1826 and called the Straits Settlements.
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 in 1889. In 1958 it was ceded to Australia. The island has been used to detain and process Asian asylum seekers who are intercepted at sea and to hold criminals who have had their visas revoked.

Christmas Island,

atoll: see KiritimatiKiritimati
, largest atoll in the Pacific (1990 pop. 2,537), 222 sq mi (575 sq km), in the Line Islands, one of the island groups that compose the Republic of Kiribati. It was previously called Christmas Island when it made up part of the former British colony of the Gilbert and
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.

Christmas Island

 

an island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Governed by the Commonwealth of Australia. Area, 156 sq km. Population, 3,400 (1970 estimate). Christmas Island has elevations to 356 m. The vegetation is tropical. There are extensive phosphate deposits on the island.


Christmas Island

 

one of the largest atolls in the Pacific Ocean, in the Line Islands. Part of the British Gilbert Islands possession. Area, 359 sq km. Circumference, 260 km. Population, 367 (1968). There are coconut plantations on the island; pearling is an important industry. Christmas Island was discovered by J. Cook in 1777.

Christmas Island

1. the former name (until 1981) of Kiritimati
2. an island in the Indian Ocean, south of Java: administered by Singapore (1900--58), now by Australia; phosphate mining. Pop.: 1500 (2004 est.). Area: 135 sq. km (52 sq. miles)
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