Kiribati – Republic of Kiribati or Christmas Island

Christmas Island (Kiribati)

Christmas Island (Kiribati)

Christmas Island (or Kiritimati , pronounced in Kiribati: [ kəˈrɪsməs ]) is an atoll in the Line archipelago, belongs to Kiribati. Located 285 km from the island of Tabuaeran, 2500 km from Honolulu, 2700 km from Tahiti. The land area is 388.39 km². Area of the lagoon 324 km². Height above sea level: 13 m.

Christmas Island is the world’s largest atoll with an area of 321 km² (land area). The island has one of the highest concentrations of seabirds in the world. There are five enclosed areas on the atoll.


Physical structure

The atoll’s individual flat islets are coral in origin, and the reef itself goes underwater to a depth of 30-120 m and rests on volcanic rocks. The atoll has a very large tidal lagoon of 16,000 hectares, which is connected to the ocean to the northwest. In the eastern part of the island there are several hundred small lagoons of 16,800 hectares that are not connected to the sea. The salinity of the water in these lagoons varies greatly. There are hundreds of small islands in the lagoons. The level of the land varies during the day: at high tide, many islands go under water. The island has freshwater springs with very low salinity and a depth of up to 2 meters. The highest point of the island is a hill on top of a dune, located on the north coast of the southeastern peninsula.

Christmas Island lies in the dry equatorial zone. The average annual rainfall is 873 mm (with occasional rainfall ranging from 177 to 2,621 mm). The rainy season is between March and April. The hottest days are in October-November. The temperature on the island during the year does not vary much, the annual average is 24-30 ° C. Winds are mostly east.

Fauna and flora of the island

The virgin forests of the island are limited to three groves of Pisonia grandis, which reach a height of 10 m. These groves are located near the south-eastern cape, near Motu-Tabu and near the north-western cape. The predominant low-growing shrub on the island is Scaevola taccada, forming uniform thickets or in combination with Messerschmidia argentea and Suriana maritima. Suriana dominates in shallow lagoons, growing up to 2 m. Messerschmidia can be found mainly in coastal plains. Sida ( Sida fallax ), reaching a height of up to 2 m, grows on the southern coastal plain and everywhere on sandy soils. Heliotrope anomalum ( Heliotropium anomalum ) forms thickets on the coast and on the boulders of the island. On the southeast cape, thickets with sida, heliotrope, Boerhavia repens, yellow portulaca and Lepturus repens dominate. About 5,200 hectares in the west of the island were planted with coconut palm ( Cocos nucifera ). Other non-native plants were introduced by man in the 20th century.

In December 1960, Christmas Island was declared a bird sanctuary in the Gilbert and Ellis Island colony. Three islets, Cook Island, Motu Tabu and Motu Upua, were declared restricted areas. In May 1975, the territory of Cook Island (19 ha); Motu Tabu Island (3.5 ha) with pizonia forests; Motu Upua Island (19 ha) with Messerschmidia, heliotrope, suriana, scevola and coconut palms; Ngaontetaake Island (2.7 ha), an island in the eastern part of the central lagoon; Northwest Cape, a tern nesting site, were declared reserves again. Access to these areas is strictly prohibited, only with written permission.

There are 37 species of birds spotted on the island, 20 of which nest on the island. The island has the largest number of tropical bird species than anywhere else in the world. The following bird species can be found here: White Typhoon ( Pterodroma alba ), Wedge-tailed Petrel ( Puffinus pacificus ), Christmas Petrel ( Puffinus nativitatis ), White-throated Pipit ( Nesofregetta albigularis ), Red-tailed Phaethon ( Phaethon rubricauda ), Muskrats ( Sula dactylatra ), red-legged booby ( Sula sula ), great frigate ( Fregata minor ), little frigate ( Fregata ariel ), dark tern ( Sterna fuscata ), spectacled tern ( Sterna lunata ), silly gray tern ( Procelsterna cerulea ), little tern ( Anous minutus ), white tern ( Gygis alba ). Christmas Island has the largest population of dark terns in the world. On the island you may occasionally come across the ruby hermit lory (Vini kuhlii). Of migratory birds, the brown-winged plover (Pluvialis fulva), Tahiti whimbrel (Numenius tahitiensis), and stonechat (Arenaria interpres) nest here. In January 1778, one of the species of sandpiper, Prosobonia cancellatus, lived on the island, but since then no one has seen it.

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The only mammal of the island is the little rat (Rattus exulans). In addition, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and several other species occur.

Land use

In June 1858 the island became U.S. territory and since then, phosphates have been mined there. In 1886, 18,000-20,000 coconut palms were planted on the island and 50 tons of pearls were mined. In the 19th century, another 70,000 coconut palms were planted on the island, of which only 25% took root due to severe droughts. The island was uninhabited from 1905 to 1912, but then coconut plantations were revived. During World War II, the island was occupied by Allied forces and an airstrip was built. In 1956-1958 years from 50 km from the island of Great Britain tested nuclear weapons. Many structures were destroyed. But the surviving infrastructure made it possible to make Kirithimati the administrative center of the Line Islands. Currently, the main economic activity on the island is the production of copra (the state plantation covers an area of 5,170 hectares). The population in 2005 was 5115 people, most of whom lived in the settlements: London, Banana and Poland on the island. Now chilled ocean fish is also shipped from the island. In 1971, the University of Hawaii attempted to grow the crustacean Artemia salina in the island’s lagoon, but that project was forgotten in 1978. Recently, a project to produce salt from seawater was carried out. Tourism has been developing in recent years.

Environmental problems

Coconut plantations have displaced native vegetation on about a third of the island. Large quantities of Messerschmidia argentea have been destroyed in various projects. In addition, a large number of alien plants have been introduced. Pluchea odorata ( Pluchea odorata), which was introduced during World War II, has been widely distributed on the atoll and has formed numerous thickets. The incense tree (Tribulus cistoides), also introduced by man, now forms entire carpets, which are very convenient for nesting birds. In 1978, there were about 50 exotic plants on the island. As a result of nuclear weapons testing, some birds have lost the ability to breed, which is detrimental to the seabird population.

In the nineteenth century, cats appeared on the island, which also threaten the nesting birds. The number of cats reaches up to 2,000 individuals. As a result, 11 of the 18 species of birds are nesting on the islets of the lagoon where there are still no cats. Attempts to capture these animals have not yielded the expected results, so traps have recently been set in villages and residents are forbidden to have cats unless they are neutered.

Pigs pose a great threat to nesting terns, although their numbers have been drastically reduced recently.

Poaching of seabirds has increased.

History of the island

    1777 – Captain James Cook and his ships Resolution and Discovery discovered Christmas Island, which Cook called Christmas Island on January 2; – A crew from the M/V Tuscany visited the island; 1836 – The Briton, commanded by Captain George Benson, was shipwrecked near the northeast tip of the island; – The island was explored by Captain J. Scott. The island was explored by Captain J. Scott from the British navy’s ship Samarang;
  • December 1847 – The ship Mozart of Bremen crashes off the island; – The island was explored by Captain John Stetson for guano;
  • November 1858: American company owns the guano mine; the Anglo-Australian company produces guano; 1888: The island is annexed to Britain; Japanese poachers land on the island, killing thousands of birds;
  • February 1937, a British radio station appears on the island.
  • 1950-1960 – British military base was on the island, monitoring nuclear weapons testing;
  • May 1957 – The first British hydrogen bomb was tested near the island.
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Christmas Island has two representatives in the country’s parliament. It is also home to the Ministry of the Isles of Lyne and Phoenix. Christmas Island is the first inhabited place on Earth to celebrate the New Year.

Kiribati Island in the Pacific Ocean – everything a tourist needs to know

Lovers of exoticism who travel around the world, even the most remote places can be of interest. Of particular interest are the islands. One of these places will be discussed in our article – the island of Kiribati. It is located in the Pacific Ocean and is part of the state of the same name.

The state of Kiribati

Christmas Island Kiribati

Kiribati is a country in Oceania, located in the western Pacific. The state consists of 33 islands. Only 21 of them are inhabited. All atolls of the country are divided into three groups:

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Kiribati is about four thousand kilometers long and has a land area of 719 kilometers. The population of the islands of Kiribati is 110,000 people. The capital of the state is the town of Bairiki, located on Tarawa Atoll. English is considered the official language. However, most of the population speaks the language of Kiribati.

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If we talk about the administrative structure, there are six regions: the Line Islands, Tarawa, Banana, South Gilbert Islands, North Gilbert Islands.

Phoenix Islands Kiribati

What do tourists who decide to visit the island of Kiribati need to know? “What kind of booms go there?” – is one of the most frequent questions found on traveler forums. Of course, it is important to know what the currency is in the country. The monetary unit of the country and the island of Kiribati as well is the Australian dollar.

A bit of history

The history of Kiribati began in the first millennium B.C. when they began to be inhabited by Austronesian tribes. In the 13th-14th centuries, settlers from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa arrived.

The Spanish navigator Fernandez de Quiroz discovered Butaritari Island in 1606. In 1765, the Briton J. Byron discovered Nikinau Atoll. His compatriots discovered Tarawa Island in 1788. Thus, gradually, by 1826, all the lands that make up Kiribati were discovered.

Kiribati Islands Line Time

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A huge contribution to the exploration of the islands of Kiribati was made by the Russian navigators Kruzenshtern and Bellingshausen. Later the atolls were actively visited by whalers from the United States and Great Britain. And in 1850, traders from America, Germany and Australia began to appear here, buying coconut oil and copra. In just ten years, nine thousand people were taken from the atolls by slave traders to work in Guatemala, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji and Tahiti.

Thereafter, Christianity was gradually established in Kiribati. The islands became a British colony. At that time they were named Ellis and Gilbert. During World War II, the colonial lands became an arena for military action. In 1941, the islands were hit hard by Japanese aircraft and navy. Some Europeans left the region and the Japanese brutally massacred the rest. Some of the natives were taken to the islands of Cusaie and Nauru, while others were simply murdered.

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Later, the Americans drove the Japanese out of Tarawa, establishing a military base where nuclear weapons tests were conducted after the war. The colony was not granted self-government until 1971. And in 1979, the islands declared themselves independent. A new state was formed called the Republic of Kiribati.

The Russian Empire in the Islands

Not so long ago, the media reported that the Russian Empire might reappear on the world map. But it will be located not in the Urals or Siberia, but somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Anton Bakov, head of the Monarchist Party, stated that he intended to bring back the Russian Empire. The millionaire has decided to realize his dream and has even managed to look at the land for the new state. According to Anton Bakov, he is in negotiations with the government of the Republic of Kiribati concerning the acquisition of three uninhabited islands – Millennium, Starbuck and Molden. Despite the remote location of the lands, the politician believes that the region is quite suitable for the realization of his plans. Therefore, a new Russian empire in the islands of Kiribati is quite possible.

Climatic conditions

Most of the islands of Kiribati are in the oceanic equatorial climate zone. But part of the southern and northern atolls belong to the tropics. Due to its close proximity to the equator, holidays in the islands of Kiribati are possible at any time of the year. If you are planning a trip to the region, please note that from March to October trade winds blow, which ease the heat, and from December to March sometimes storms.

Kiribati Island in the Pacific Ocean

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The main feature of the climate of the islands of Kiribati is its uniformity. The temperature never drops below 22 degrees Celsius. Usual temperature range is between +28 and +32.

The islands are of interest in terms of beach holidays: the warm sea, hot climate and golden sand. It’s a true tropical paradise, where you can have a great vacation.

The economy of the country

The economy of Kiribati is based on coconut plantations. Palm trees produce many products: nuts, coconut milk, coconut shells, wood, copra, and oil. Palm sap is used to make sugar and wine. Another source of income is the harvesting of pearls.

The country is very poor in natural resources. For a time, phosphate mining was a great help to the local economy. But their reserves were exhausted back in 1979. Therefore, the local government now sells fishing permits to other states in order to generate revenue for the local budget. The country does not even have its own currency because the economy is very weak.

The basis of life in the country is subsistence agriculture. Arable land is scarce and in short supply. All of it is divided among the village communities. People grow papaya, yams, bananas, breadfruit, and coconut palms for their own use. Livestock farming is also poorly developed. In coastal waters, residents catch octopus, fish, and sharks. Forestry is attempted on the lands of the Phoenix Islands.


Going on vacation to the island of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, you need to take care of money. As we mentioned, the official currency is the Australian dollar. Banknotes from five to a hundred dollars are in circulation. Rubles can be converted into this currency while still in Russia. In the tourist centers can sometimes be paid in U.S. dollars. But on the outer islands, this is not possible. Since Kiribati is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, it is logical that in the streets to change large bills is very difficult. Therefore, it is worth carrying small bills. A bank card can be used only on Tarawa and in some large hotels.

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ATMs in the country is very small, so in the capital is better to cash the amount you need.

If you want to organize your vacation in the Caribbean islands, it is worth taking care of a visa. You can apply for a visa at the UK visa center. Since the country is a British-controlled territory, the documents will have to be processed there. When applying, you must take the application seriously. The visa application center staff will be very meticulous when examining all the documents.


The islands of Kiribati are completely untouched by civilization. There are no noisy resorts, which entertainment is not put on stream. The relief of the islands is very monotonous. There are no hollows, gorges, mountains, rivers or lakes. Only low-lying plains, formed by atolls surrounded by reefs, are visible everywhere.

There are only 100 varieties of plants on Kiribati. An interesting fact is that 70 of them are brought from other regions. The country has no endemics of its own. On inhabited areas, most of the land is planted with vegetable gardens, and there are not many green spaces. Despite the proximity of the equator and the presence of the rainy season, the islands often experience periods of drought.

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There are no animals as such in the region. Of the mammals, only rats are found. Agricultural animals are represented only by chickens and pigs. But the coastal waters are full of fish. No less diverse world of seabirds.

Christmas Island

The most famous place in the country is Christmas Island (Kiribati), often called Kiritimati. It was discovered by John Cook in 1777 on Christmas Eve, hence its name. Despite the fact that the island is remote from the other atolls, it has its own peculiarity. Its inhabitants celebrate the New Year’s Eve first in the world.

It is worth saying that Christmas Island (Kiribati) is the largest atoll in the world. Volcanic processes in this region of the Indian Ocean were completed 37 million years ago. As a result, several peaks appeared above the seafloor. However, the sea waves quickly enough almost completely destroyed the volcanic peaks. And the imperceptible and quiet life of corals led to the appearance of the world’s largest atoll, an area of up to 130 square kilometers. It consists of a series of lagoons scattered throughout the island.

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The entire island surface is covered with white coral sands on which grow tropical shrubs and palm trees. In some places, vegetation forms dense thickets. You won’t find any tall plants on the atoll. The bushes are barely two meters high. And the tall palm trees do not interfere with the view of the ocean scenery.

The main pride of Christmas Island are the wild deserted beaches, which are washed by clear waters. But you must use special shoes to swim in the ocean, as there are many coral debris on the bottom. The atoll could become a famous seaside resort, but the main obstacle is its considerable remoteness from the mainland.


Christmas Island or Kiritimati was of no interest to colonizers from Europe until the mid-nineteenth century. But that all changed in 1857, when J. Stetson found deposits of guano, ancient strata of bird droppings that could be used to produce phosphate fertilizer. Exploitation soon began on the island.

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During World War II, Kiritimati became a battleground. An American base and an airfield were built on the island. After the war, a nuclear bomb was tested on one of the nearby islands. The aftermath of that explosion still has a negative impact on the environment.

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Line Islands

This is a group of 12 atolls, 8 of which are part of Kiribati. All of them are very popular as a place for beach vacations. The time on the Line Islands (Kiribati) is ahead of Moscow by as much as eleven hours, on the Phoenix Atolls – by ten, in the Gilbert group – by nine. An interesting fact is that Kiribati land is located in three time zones, which is simply amazing for such a small state.

Island of Kiribati history

Hotels and bungalows are built for tourists on the Line Islands, but the range of services in them is very different. It is worth noting that all hotels in the region are deprived of stardom. Entertainment here is also not very much. Tourists can go scuba diving, water rides, surfing and diving, as well as visit local breadfruit plantations.

Phoenix Islands

They are represented by 8 atolls, the beautiful nature of which is simply amazing. However, most of them are uninhabited, and the reason for this is the complete lack of fresh water.

Canton Atoll is the only atoll of the whole group, which is home to several families. It was named after a whaling ship that crashed on the coral reefs in these waters. There was once an American base on the island. But after the military lost interest in the region, people converted the buildings to housing.

Island of Kiribati history

The Fennix atolls are of interest only in terms of wild recreation away from civilization. More and more tourists want to visit the uninhabited islands lost in the Pacific Ocean. The local atolls have beautiful pink sand beaches and inland lagoons. The unusual color of the sand cover is due to the presence of small fragments of coral.

Tourists here are interested not only in beach rest, but also in diving, as the underwater world of the coastal areas is incredibly rich. Local waters are inhabited by over 500 species of fish, including barracudas, parrot fish and surgeons. The local reefs, covered entirely with coral, are no less interesting. During a dive you can see clams, crabs, shrimp, starfish and urchins. The main attraction in Phoenix Islands are the green turtles that come to the reefs in search of food.

Cuisine of Kiribati

It’s hard to imagine the national cuisine of Kiribati without coconuts. Coconuts are grown all over the place and used in preparing all dishes. Milk is used in soups, mixed with curries for a fish marinade, and coconut flesh is baked with chicken and added to tea. On the islands, fried fish is the mainstay of the diet. Dishes of pork and chicken appear on the tables only on major holidays. Inhabitants from plants prepare sauces and all sorts of seasonings which are the invariable attribute of local cuisine.

Island of Kiribati climate

The national drink is kaokyoki. Soft drink is prepared on the basis of coconut milk.

Advantages of vacations

Despite the colonial influence, the culture of the country remains incredibly distinctive. Folk music, peculiar local dances reflecting the simple life of the inhabitants are very common here. Tourists who are looking for new experiences will love Kiribati. After all, it has the most beautiful sandy beaches, where there are very few people, but there is absolutely no civilization. If you want you can find a deserted corner and enjoy being alone with nature.

But expensive hotels known global chains, expensive stores and other attributes of famous resorts on the island you will not find. You can come here for a peaceful holiday by the sea, for the beautiful oceanic landscape and an incredibly rich underwater world.

However, to get to Kiribati is difficult, there are no direct flights. To get to the capital of the country you’ll have to make several flights and transfers.

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