Kiritimati Island (formerly Christmas Island), the largest atoll in the Pacific Ocean, is the centerpiece of this low-oblique, northeast-looking photo. The atoll covers 606 sq km (234 sq mi), of which 243 sq km (94 sq mi) are land. The island was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1777. The majority of the island's inhabitants work on coconut plantations and in copra production. The island's major airbase is on the northeast side of the island. Nuclear tests were conducted on Kiritimati Island by the British in 1957 and 1958 and by the United States in 1962. Image courtesy of NASA.
Pronounced "Ki-ris-mas," Kiritimati Island has a large infilled lagoon that gives it the largest land area of any atoll in the world. Captain Cook named the atoll Christmas Island when he arrived on Christmas Eve in 1777. Used for nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, the island is now valued for its marine and wildlife resources. It is particularly important as a seabird nesting site, with an estimated 6 million birds using or breeding on the island, including several million Sooty Terns. Rainfall on Kiritimati is linked to El Nino patterns, with long droughts experienced between the wetter El Nino years. This image is a mosaic of four digital photographs taken on 16 January 2002 from the Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA.
Millennium Island - known as Caroline Island prior to 2000 - is located at the southern end of the Line Islands, which make up the western portion of Kiribati. Uninhabited Millennium Island is formed from a number of smaller islets built on coral reefs. The reefs grew around a now-submerged volcanic peak, leaving a ring of coral around an inner lagoon. The shallow lagoon waters are a lighter blue than the deeper surrounding ocean water; tan linear "fingers" within the lagoon are the tops of corals. The two largest islets are Nake Islet (on the north) and South Islet. Image courtesy of NASA.
An aerial photograph of the south side of Tarawa Atoll, taken by Navy Squadron VC-24 on 9 September 1943, from an altitude of 3,660 m (12,000 ft). Betio Island is in the foreground, with Bairiki and Eita Islands beyond. The Battle of Tarawa took place on 20 November 1943 largely on Betio Island. Photo courtesy of the US Navy.
The remains of a Japanese 8-inch coastal defense gun mount sit on the point at Green Beach, Betio Island. Rising above the sand with its muzzle pointed inland, this was one of four 8-inch guns the Japanese emplaced on the island. Shrubs have overtaken the concrete and steel, and hundreds of red crabs race throughout the battlefield debris. Other than some graffiti and weathering, the area remains as it was following the Battle of Tarawa. Photo courtesy of the US Marine Corps/ Cpl. Aaron Hostutler.
Wreaths enfold the base of the Battle of Tarawa Memorial on Betio Island in the Republic of Kiribati. A ceremony held on 20 November 2018 marked the 75th anniversary of the battle. Photo courtesy of the US Marine Corps/ Sgt. Jacqueline A. Clifford.
A close up of the plaque on the US Marine Corps Memorial commemorating the Battle of Tarawa that took place on Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, and Kiribati on 20 November 1943. More than 1,100 Marines died and over 2,200 were wounded during the Battle of Tarawa. Photo courtesy of the US Marine Corps/ Lance Cpl. Juan C. Bustos.
New Zealand High Commissioner of Tarawa Michael Wehi Mailetonga Walsh explains the Betio Memorial to Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, during his visit to the Republic of Kiribati for Pacific Partnership 2013, 17 July 2013. The memorial is to 22 New Zealand, British, and Australian coastwatchers held prisoner and murdered by Imperial Japanese forces on Betio Island, Tarawa atoll, Kiribati. Photo courtesy of the US Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II.
The memorial to 22 New Zealand, British, and Australian coastwatchers on Betio Island, Tarawa atoll, Kiribati. The seventeen New Zealand coastwatchers and five civilians were captured by the Japanese in the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) early in World War II and held prisoner on Tarawa, where they were murdered on 15 October 1942. The memorial reads, in part, "Standing unarmed at their posts, they matched brutality with gallantry, and met death with fortitude." Photo courtesy of the US Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II.