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Australia - Oceania :: Christmas Island Print
Page last updated on November 24, 2020
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  • Introduction :: Christmas Island
  • Background field listing
    Although Europeans had sighted the island at least as early as 1615, it was only named in 1643 for the day of its rediscovery. 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 :: Christmas Island
  • Location field listing
    Southeastern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    10 30 S, 105 40 E
    Map references field listing
    Southeast Asia
    Area field listing
    total: 135 sq km
    land: 135 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 222
    Area - comparative field listing
    about three-quarters the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    0 km
    Coastline field listing
    138.9 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    contiguous zone: 12 nm
    exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
    Climate field listing
    tropical with a wet season (December to April) and dry season; heat and humidity moderated by trade winds
    Terrain field listing
    steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to central plateau
    Elevation field listing
    lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Murray Hill 361 m
    Natural resources field listing
    phosphate, beaches
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 0% (2011 est.)
    other: 100% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land field listing
    Population distribution field listing
    majority of the population lives on the northern tip of the island
    Natural hazards field listing
    the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard
    Environment - current issues field listing
    loss of rainforest; impact of phosphate mining
    Geography - note field listing
    located along major sea lanes of the Indian Ocean
  • People and Society :: Christmas Island
  • Population field listing
    2,205 (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 231
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Christmas Islander(s)
    adjective: Christmas Island
    Ethnic groups field listing
    Chinese 70%, European 20%, Malay 10% (2001)

    note: no indigenous population

    Languages field listing
    English (official) 27.6%, Mandarin 17.2%, Malay 17.1%, Cantonese 3.9%, Min Nan 1.6%, Tagalog 1%, other 4.5%, unspecified 27.1% (2016 est.)

    note: data represent language spoken at home

    Religions field listing
    Muslim 19.4%, Buddhist 18.3%, Roman Catholic 8.8%, Protestant 6.5% (includes Anglican 3.6%, Uniting Church 1.2%, other 1.7%), other Christian 3.3%, other 0.6%, none 15.3%, unspecified 27.7% (2016 est.)
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 12.79% (male 147/female 135) (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 12.2% (male 202/female 67) (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 57.91% (male 955/female 322) (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 11.66% (male 172/female 85) (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 5.44% (male 84/female 36) (2017 est.)
    Population growth rate field listing
    1.11% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    Population distribution field listing
    majority of the population lives on the northern tip of the island
    Sex ratio field listing
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: NA (2018)
    male: NA
    female: NA
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: NA (2017 est.)
    male: NA
    female: NA
    Total fertility rate field listing
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
  • Government :: Christmas Island
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: Territory of Christmas Island
    conventional short form: Christmas Island
    etymology: named by English Captain William MYNORS for the day of its rediscovery, Christmas Day (25 December 1643); the island had been sighted by Europeans as early as 1615
    Dependency status field listing
    non-self governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport
    Government type field listing
    non-self-governing overseas territory of Australia
    Capital field listing
    name: The Settlement (Flying Fish Cove)
    geographic coordinates: 10 25 S, 105 43 E
    time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    etymology: self-descriptive name for the main locus of population
    Administrative divisions field listing
    none (territory of Australia)
    Independence field listing
    none (territory of Australia)
    National holiday field listing
    Australia Day (commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of Australian settlers), 26 January (1788)
    Constitution field listing
    history: 1 October 1958 (Christmas Island Act 1958)
    amendments: amended many times, last in 2016
    Citizenship field listing
    see Australia
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia General Sir Peter COSGROVE (since 28 March 2014)
    head of government: Administrator Natasha GRIGGS (since 5 October 2018)
    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 field listing
    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 2 years with half the members standing for election; last held on 21 October 2017 (next to be held in October 2019)
    election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - independent 9; composition as of 17 October 2015 - men 7, women 2, percent of women 22.2%
    Judicial branch field listing
    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 field listing
    International organization participation field listing
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    none (territory of Australia)
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    none (territory of Australia)
    Flag description field listing
    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) field listing
    golden bosun bird
    National anthem field listing

    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 field listing
    The main economic activities on Christmas Island are the mining of low grade phosphate, limited tourism, the provision of government services and, since 2005, 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) field listing


    Agriculture - products field listing
    Industries field listing
    tourism, phosphate extraction (near depletion)
    Labor force field listing
    Budget field listing
    revenues: NA
    expenditures: NA
    Fiscal year field listing
    1 July - 30 June
    Exports field listing


    Exports - commodities field listing
    Imports field listing


    Imports - commodities field listing
    consumer goods
    Exchange rates field listing
    Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
    1.311 (2017 est.)
    1.3442 (2016 est.)
    1.3442 (2015)
    1.3291 (2014 est.)
    1.1094 (2013 est.)
  • Communications :: Christmas Island
  • Telecommunication systems field listing
    general assessment: service provided by the Australian network
    domestic: local area code - 08; GSM mobile-cellular telephone service is provided by Telstra as part of the Australian network
    international: international code - 61 8; ASC submarine cable to Singapore and Australia; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat provides telephone and telex service) (2019)
    Broadcast media field listing
    1 community radio station; satellite broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations (2017)
    Internet country code field listing
    Internet users field listing
    total: 790
    percent of population: 35.8% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 227
  • Transportation :: Christmas Island
  • Airports field listing
    1 (2020)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 1 (2019)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    Railways field listing
    total: 18 km (2017)
    standard gauge: 18 km 1.435-m (not in operation) (2017)

    note: the 18-km Christmas Island Phosphate Company Railway between Flying Fish Cove and South Point was decommissioned in 1987; some tracks and scrap remain in place

    country comparison to the world: 134
    Roadways field listing
    total: 140 km (2011)
    paved: 30 km (2011)
    unpaved: 110 km (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Flying Fish Cove
  • Military and Security :: Christmas Island
  • Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of Australia
  • Transnational Issues :: Christmas Island
  • Disputes - international field listing