In the Indian Ocean, about 350 kilometers (220 mi) south of Java and Sumatra and about 1,550 kilometers (960 mi) north-west of the nearest point on the Australian mainland, Christmas Island, officially the Territory of Christmas Island, is situated. Christmas Island, officially the Territory of Christmas Island, is located in the Indian Ocean, about 350 kilometers (220 mi) south of Java and Sumatra and about 1,550 kilometers (960 mi) north-west of the nearest point on the Australian mainland.
The island is the summit of an oceanic peak, with Murray Hill as the highest point on the island, rising in the western part of the island to 1,184 feet (361 meters). The majority of the population has traditionally been collectively created by Asian Australians of Chinese, Malay, and Indian descent. Today, about two-thirds of the population of the island is estimated to be of Chinese Malaysian or Chinese Singaporean origin, with large numbers of Malays and European Australians and smaller numbers of Indians and Eurasians from Malaysia. The island is basically a collection of terraces around a central plateau, with the highest and steepest cliffs having the lower terraces.
The island was annexed by Great Britain in 1888, and George Clunies-Ross of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands founded the first settlement at Flying Fish Cove. The island was visited in 1897 by Charles W. Andrews, who, on behalf of the British Museum, did extensive research on the island’s natural history. The island was conquered by the Japanese during World War II. The governments of New Zealand and Australia purchased the Christmas Island Phosphate Company’s interests and properties in 1948, and operations for both governments were handled by the British Phosphate Board. The island became an Australian Territory in 1958.
The National Park of Christmas Island occupies about 64% of this island, about 85 square kilometers of the island’s 135 square kilometers. The total land area of the island, with 138.9 km (86.3 mi) of coastline, is 135 square kilometers (52 sq mi). The island is the flat summit of an underwater mountain that rises from about 4,200 m (13,780 ft) below the sea and just about 300 m (984 ft) above it, more than 4,500 meters (14,800 ft ) high. In 1980, the first national park was proclaimed and covered the island’s southwestern portion. In 1986 and 1989, two more phases were added to create the National Park of Christmas Island.
The national park today makes up 64 percent of the land area of Christmas Island and stretches 50 meters offshore. Rainforests, wetlands, freshwater mangroves, and important habitats for several endangered and endemic species are protected. Around December and April, there is a tropical rainy season and little seasonal change in the mean temperature of 81 °F (27 °C). The average annual rainfall is 2.670 mm (113 inches). Christmas Island is situated 2,600 kilometers (1,600 mi) northwest of Perth, Western Australia, 350 km (220 mi) south of Indonesia, 975 km (606 mi) ENE of Cocos Islands, and 2,748 km (1,708 mi) west of the Northern Territory of Darwin.
Christmas Island National Park
Much of Christmas Island is surrounded by tropical rainforest, and the fauna includes large numbers of seabirds, small reptiles, land crabs, and insects. For the island’s inhabitants, springs and wells provide fresh water. The isolation and varied ecosystems of the island have facilitated the creation of a large number of species of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic. The 12 ecosystems recognized are: sea, shoreline, beach, sea cliffs, terrace forest, the rainforest of shallow soil, limestone scree slopes, the evergreen rainforest of the deeper plateau and terrace soil, mangrove forest, wetlands, karst (caves, overhangs, rock crevices, sinkholes), minefields. In 2018, due to environmental issues, the Australian Government knocked back a planned extension to phosphate mining operations.
As a result, the future of the island lies in a more diversified economy in which tourism plays a significant role. A variety of changes to visitor facilities both within and outside the national park will be made in the coming years to facilitate this. Christmas Island was the site of one of the notorious Pacific Island detention centers in Australia for the offshore processing of Australia-bound asylum seekers in the early 21st century. Area: 135 square km (52 square miles).