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Christmas Island

Christmas Island (Australia-Oceania)

Introduction ::Christmas Island


Named in 1643 for the day of its discovery, the island was annexed and settlement began by the UK in 1888. Phosphate mining began in the 1890s. The UK transferred sovereignty to Australia in 1958. Almost two-thirds of the island has been declared a national park.

Geography ::Christmas Island

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Southeastern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia

Geographic coordinates:
10 30 S, 105 40 E

Map references:



total: 135 sq km country comparison to the world: 221 land: 135 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:

about three-quarters the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:

0 km

Red crab empire


138.9 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 12 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical with a wet season (December to April) and dry season; heat and humidity moderated by trade winds


steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to central plateau

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: Murray Hill 361 m

Natural resources:

phosphate, beaches

Land use:

arable land: 0%

permanent crops: 0%

other: 100% (mainly tropical rainforest; 63% of the island is a national park) (2005)

Irrigated land:

Natural hazards:

the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard

Environment - current issues:

loss of rainforest; impact of phosphate mining

Geography - note:

located along major sea lanes of Indian Ocean

People ::Christmas Island


1,402 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 233

Age structure:

0-14 years: NA

15-64 years: NA

65 years and over: NA

Population growth rate:

0% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 196

Birth rate:

Death rate:

Net migration rate:

Sex ratio:

NA (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Total fertility rate:

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


noun: Christmas Islander(s)

adjective: Christmas Island

Ethnic groups:

Chinese 70%, European 20%, Malay 10%

note: no indigenous population (2001)


Buddhist 36%, Muslim 25%, Christian 18%, other 21% (1997)


English (official), Chinese, Malay


Government ::Christmas Island

Country name:

conventional long form: Territory of Christmas Island

conventional short form: Christmas Island

Dependency status:

non-self governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department

Government type:


name: The Settlement

geographic coordinates: 10 25 S, 105 43 E

time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

none (territory of Australia)


none (territory of Australia)

National holiday:

Australia Day, 26 January (1788)


Christmas Island Act of 1958-59 (1 October 1958) as amended by the
Territories Law Reform Act of 1992

Legal system:

under the authority of the governor general of Australia and Australian law


18 years of age

Executive branch:

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952) represented by the Australian governor general

head of government: Administrator Brian LACY (since 5 October 2009)

elections: the monarchy is hereditary; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia and represents the monarch and Australia

Legislative branch:

unicameral Christmas Island Shire Council (9 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: held every two years with half the members standing for election; last held on 17 October 2009 (next to be held in 2011)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 9

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court; District Court; Magistrate's Court

Political parties and leaders:


Political pressure groups and leaders:


International organization participation:


Diplomatic representation in the US:

none (territory of Australia)

Diplomatic representation from the US:

none (territory of Australia)

Flag description:

territorial flag; divided diagonally from upper hoist to lower fly; the upper triangle is green with a yellow image of the Golden Bosun Bird superimposed, the lower triangle is blue with the Southern Cross constellation, representing Australia, superimposed; a centered yellow disk displays a green map of the island

note: the flag of Australia is used for official purposes

National anthem:

note: as a territory of Australia, "Advance Australia Fair" remains official as the national anthem, while "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see Australia)

Economy ::Christmas Island

Economy - overview:

Phosphate mining had been the only significant economic activity, but in December 1987 the Australian government closed the mine. In 1991, the mine was reopened. With the support of the government, a $34 million casino opened in 1993, but closed in 1998.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

Labor force:

Agriculture - products:


tourism, phosphate extraction (near depletion)


Exports - commodities:



Imports - commodities:

consumer goods

Exchange rates:

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar - 1.1151 (2010), 1.2822 (2009), 1.2059 (2008), 1.2137 (2007), 1.3285 (2006)

Communications ::Christmas Island

Telephones - main lines in use:

Telephone system:

general assessment: service provided by the Australian network

domestic: GSM mobile-cellular telephone service replaced older analog system in February 2005

international: country code - 61-8; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat provides telephone and telex service) (2005)

Broadcast media:

1 community radio station; broadcasts of several Australian radio and television stations are received via satellite (2009)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

2,542 (2010) country comparison to the world: 149

Internet users:

464 (2001) country comparison to the world: 216

Transportation ::Christmas Island


1 (2010) country comparison to the world: 235

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)


total: 18 km country comparison to the world: 133 standard gauge: 18 km 1.435-m (not in operation) (2010)


total: 140 km country comparison to the world: 210 paved: 30 km

unpaved: 110 km (2007)

Ports and terminals:

Flying Fish Cove

Military ::Christmas Island

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of Australia

Transnational Issues ::Christmas Island

Disputes - international:



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