Christmas Island

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Named in 1643 for the day of its discovery, the island was annexed and settlement began by the UK in 1888 with the discovery of the island's phosphate deposits. Following the Second World War, Christmas Island came under the jurisdiction of the new British Colony of Singapore. The island existed as a separate Crown colony from 1 January 1958 to 1 October 1958 when its transfer to Australian jurisdiction was finalized. That date is still celebrated on the first Monday in October as Territory Day. Almost two-thirds of the island has been declared a national park.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

10.30° S, 105.40° E

Area 222/257

total: 135 sq km

land: 135 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

about three-quarters the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km

Coastline

138.9 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 12 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Climate

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

Terrain

steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to central plateau

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: Murray Hill 361 m

Natural resources

phosphate, beaches

Land use

agricultural land: 0%

arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0%

other: 100% (mainly tropical reainforest; 63% of the island is a national park) (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

NA

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 and Society

Nationality

noun: Christmas Islander(s)

adjective: Christmas Island

Ethnic groups

Chinese 70%, European 20%, Malay 10%

note: no indigenous population (2001)

Languages

English (official), Chinese, Malay

Religions

Buddhist 16.9%, Christian 16.4%, Muslim 14.8%, other 1.3%, none 9.2%, unspecified 41.5% (2011 est.)

Population 233/238

1,530 (July 2014 est.)

Population growth rate 110/233

1.11% (2014 est.)

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

NA

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Territory of Christmas Island

conventional short form: Christmas Island

etymology: named after its discovery on Christmas Day (25 December 1643)

Government type

NA

Capital

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)

Independence

none (territory of Australia)

National holiday

Australia Day, 26 January (1788)

Constitution

1 October 1958 (Christmas Island Act 1958); amended many times, last in 2010 (Territories Law Reform Act 2010) (2015)

Legal system

legal system is under the authority of the governor general of Australia and Australian law

Citizenship

see Australia

Suffrage

18 years of age

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia General Sir Peter COSGROVE (since28 March 2014)

head of government: Administrator Jon STANHOPE (since 5 October 2012)

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Australian prime minister; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia for a 2-year term and represents the monarch and Australia

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Christmas Island Shire Council (9 seats; members directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms with a portion of the membership renewed every 2 years)

elections: held every two years with half the members standing for election; last held In 2011 (next to be held in 2013)

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

Judicial branch

highest court(s): under the terms of the Territorial Law Reform Act 1992, Western Australia provides court services as needed for the island including the Supreme Court and subordinate courts (District Court, Magistrate Court, Family Court, Children's Court, and Coroners' Court)

Political parties and leaders

none

Political pressure groups and leaders

none

International organization participation

none

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 symbol(s)

golden bosun bird

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

Economy - overview

The main economic activities on Christmas Island are the mining of low grade phosphate, limited tourism, the provision of government services and more recently the construction and operation of the Immigration Detention Center. The government sector includes administration, health, education, policing, customs, quarantine and defense.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$NA

Agriculture - products

NA

Industries

tourism, phosphate extraction (near depletion)

Labor force

NA

Budget

revenues: $NA

expenditures: $NA

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Exports

$NA

Exports - commodities

phosphate

Imports

$NA

Imports - commodities

consumer goods

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -

1.33 (2015)

1.04 (2013)

1.04 (2013)

0.97 (2012)

0.97 (2011)

Communications

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; satellite broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations (2009)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2006)

Television broadcast stations

0 (TV broadcasts received via satellite from mainland Australia) (2006)

Internet country code

.cx

Internet hosts 155/232

3,028 (2012)

Internet users 217/217

total: 464

percent of population: 16.7% (2001)

Transportation

Airports 215/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Railways 135/136

total: 18 km

standard gauge: 18 km 1.435-m (not in operation) (2010)

Roadways 212/223

total: 140 km

paved: 30 km

unpaved: 110 km (2011)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Flying Fish Cove

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

none