Australia - Oceania :: Christmas Island
  • Introduction :: Christmas Island
  • Background:
    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 :: Christmas Island
  • Location:
    Southeastern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia
    Geographic coordinates:
    10 30 S, 105 40 E
    Map references:
    Southeast Asia
    Area:
    total: 135 sq km
    land: 135 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 222
    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:
    0 m lowest point: Indian Ocean
    361 highest point: Murray Hill
    Natural resources:
    phosphate, beaches
    Land use:
    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:
    NA
    Population distribution:
    majority of the population lives on the northern tip of the island
    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 the Indian Ocean
  • People and Society :: Christmas Island
  • Population:
    2,205 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 231
    Nationality:
    noun: Christmas Islander(s)
    adjective: Christmas Island
    Ethnic groups:
    Chinese 70%, European 20%, Malay 10% (2001)

    note: no indigenous population

    Languages:
    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:
    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:
    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 pyramid: population pyramid
    Population growth rate:
    1.11% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 97
    Population distribution:
    majority of the population lives on the northern tip of the island
    Sex ratio:
    NA
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: NA
    male: NA
    female: NA
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: NA (2017 est.)
    male: NA (2017 est.)
    female: NA (2017 est.)
    Total fertility rate:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    NA
  • Government :: Christmas Island
  • Country name:
    conventional long form: Territory of Christmas Island
    conventional short form: Christmas Island
    etymology: named by English Captain William MYNORS for the day of its discovery, Christmas Day (25 December 1643)
    Dependency status:
    non-self governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport
    Government type:
    non-self-governing overseas territory of Australia
    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 (commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of Australian settlers), 26 January (1788)
    Constitution:
    history: 1 October 1958 (Christmas Island Act 1958) (2017)
    amendments: amended many times, last in 2016 (2017)
    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 (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:
    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 17 October 2015 (next to be held on 21 October 2017)
    election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - independent 9; composition as of 17 October 2015 - men 6, women 3, percent of women 33.3%
    Judicial branch:
    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
    International organization participation:
    none
    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 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 :: Christmas Island
  • Economy - overview:
    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):

    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
    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
    (31 December 2009 est.)
    Exchange rates:
    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
  • Telephone system:
    general assessment: service provided by the Australian network (2017)
    domestic: local area code - 08; GSM mobile-cellular telephone service is provided by Telstra as part of the Australian network (2017)
    international: international code - 61 8; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat provides telephone and telex service) (2017)
    Broadcast media:
    1 community radio station; satellite broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations (2017)
    Internet country code:
    .cx
    Internet users:
    total: 790 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 35.8% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 225
  • Transportation :: Christmas Island
  • Airports:
    1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 1 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)
    Railways:
    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:
    total: 140 km (2011)
    paved: 30 km (2011)
    unpaved: 110 km (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Flying Fish Cove
  • Military and Security :: Christmas Island
  • Military - note:
    defense is the responsibility of Australia
  • Transnational Issues :: Christmas Island
  • Disputes - international:
    none