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Christmas Island, Australia History

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History[edit | edit source]

The Territory of Christmas Island is an Australian external territory comprising the island of the same name. Christmas Island is located in the Indian Ocean, around 220 miles south of Java and Sumatra and around 960 miles north-west of the closest point on the Australian mainland. It has an area of 135 square 52 sq miles. Around two-thirds of the island's population is estimated to have Malaysian Chinese origin. Several languages are in use, including English, Malay, and various Chinese dialects. Islam and Buddhism are major religions on the island, though a vast majority of the population does not declare a formal religious affiliation and may be involved in ethnic Chinese religion.

The first European to sight the island was Richard Rowe of the Thomas in 1615. The island was later named on Christmas Day 1643 by Captain William Mynors, but only settled in the late 19th century. Its geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of endemism among its flora and fauna, which is of interest to scientists and naturalists. The majority of the island is included in the Christmas Island National Park, which features several areas of primary monsoonal forest.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1643 - Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary, an English East India Company vessel, named the island when he sailed past it on Christmas Day
1899 - Phosphate mining began using indentured workers from Singapore, Malaya, and China
1958 - Australia's Christmas Island Act was passed and the island was officially placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia

Resources[edit | edit source]

  • Margaret Neale and Jan Adams, We were the Christmas Islanders: Reminiscences and Recollections of the People of an Isolated Island - the Australian Territory of Christmas Island, ISBN : 0-7316-4158-2
  • Jan Adams and Marg Neale, Christmas Island - The Early Years - 1888 to 1958 : Historic photographs with many untold tales from the early years of Christmas Island, ISBN : 0-646-14894-X