The Line Islands, Teraina Islands or Equatorial Islands, is a chain of atolls (with partially or fully enclosed lagoons) and coral islands (with a surrounding reef). Kingman Reef is largely submerged and Filippo Reef is shown on some maps, although its existence is doubted. The islands were formed by volcanic activity and are located in the central Pacific Ocean, south of the Hawaiian Islands. The 11 islands stretch for 2,350 kilometres (1,460 miles) in a northwest–southeast direction, making it one of the longest island chains of the world. Eight of the islands form part of Kiribati, while the remaining three (Kingman Reef, Palmyra Island and Jarvis Island) are United States territories grouped with the United States Minor Outlying Islands. Only Kiritimati and Tabuaeran atolls and Teraina Island have a permanent population.
The International Date Line passes through the Line Islands. The Line Islands that are part of Kiribati are in the world's farthest forward time zone, UTC+14:00. The time of day is the same as in the U.S. state of Hawaii, but the date is one day ahead. The time is 1 day and 2 hours ahead of some other islands in Oceania like Baker Island, which uses UTC−12:00.
|Native name: |
|Area||503.28 km2 (194.32 sq mi)|
|Largest Island settlement||Kiritimati (pop. 6,447)|
|Status||unincorporated (Kingman Reef, and Jarvis Island)|
Incorporated (Palmyra Atoll)
Most 18th-century visitors to these isles overlooked the tell-tale signs of former Polynesian settlement. This is true of Captain Cook, who landed on Kiritimati (Christmas Is) in 1777, and Captain Fanning during his visits to Teraina (Washington Is) and Tabuaeran (Fanning Atoll) in 1798. Archaeologists have since identified remains of coral marae platforms and/or village complexes on all three, as well as on Malden, Millennium Atoll and Flint Island. These remains are dateable as far back as the 14th century, and show that the inhabitants of the Line Islands were more than just castaways.
Whaling ships were regular visitors to the islands in the 19th century, in search of water, wood and provisions. The first recorded visit was by the whaler Coquette to Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in 1822. The islands of Fanning and Washington were annexed as part of the British Colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1916, followed in 1919 by the similar annexation of Christmas Island. However, these annexations were contested by the government of the United States, citing its Guano Islands Act of 1856, which allowed for very wide-ranging territorial claims. The latter claims persisted until relinquished under the Treaty of Tarawa, which recognised Kiribati's sovereignty over the majority of the Line Islands chain. In the meantime, the Line Islands featured briefly in biennial reports furnished by the Colony's resident commissioner to the Colonial Office and Parliament in London (e.g., see the 1966 and 1967 report).
The group is geographically divided into three subgroups; The Northern, Central, and Southern Line Islands. The Central Line Islands are sometimes grouped with the Southern Line Islands. The table below lists the islands from North to South.
|Northern Line Islands (Fanning's Group)|
|Kingman Reef||0.01||60||0||U.S. territory (unincorporated)|
|Palmyra Atoll||3.9||8||4||U.S. territory (incorporated)|
|Teraina (Washington Island)||9.55||2*||1,155||part of Kiribati|
|Tabuaeran (Fanning Island)||33.73||110||2,539||part of Kiribati|
|Kiritimati (Christmas Island)||388.39||217.61||5,115||part of Kiribati|
|Central Line Islands|
|Jarvis Island||5||—||0||U.S. territory (unincorporated)|
|Malden Island||39.3||13*||0||part of Kiribati|
|Filippo Reef||—||1.5||0||outside EEZ|
|Starbuck Island||16.2||4*||0||part of Kiribati|
|Southern Line Islands|
|Caroline Island||3.76||6.3||0||part of Kiribati|
|Vostok Island||0.24||—||0||part of Kiribati|
|Flint Island||3.2||0.01*||0||part of Kiribati|
* The lagoon areas marked with an asterisk are contained within the island areas of the previous column because they are, unlike in the case of a typical atoll, inland waters completely sealed off from the sea.
Kiritimati is the largest atoll in the world in terms of land area. The islands were annexed by the UK in 1888 with a view to laying the Pacific cable, with Tabuaeran (then Fanning Island) as a relay station. The cable was laid and was operational between 1902 and 1963 except for a short period in 1914.
Copra and "Petfish" are the main export products (with seaweed).
On December 23, 1994, the Republic of Kiribati announced a change of time zone for the Line Islands, to take effect December 31, 1994. This adjustment effectively moved the International Date Line over 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) to the east within Kiribati, placing all of Kiribati on the Asian or western side of the date line, despite the fact that Caroline's longitude of 150 degrees west corresponds to UTC−10 rather than its official time zone of UTC+14. Caroline Island now is at the same time as the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time Zone), but one day ahead. This move made Caroline Island both the easternmost land in the earliest time zone (by some definitions, the easternmost point on Earth), and one of the first points of land which would see sunrise on January 1, 2000 — at 5:43 a.m., as measured by local time.
The stated reason for the move was a campaign promise of Kiribati President Teburoro Tito to eliminate the confusion of Kiribati straddling the Date Line and therefore being constantly in two different days. However, Kiribati officials were not reluctant to attempt to capitalize on the nation's new status as owners of the first land to see sunrise in 2000. Other Pacific nations, including Tonga and New Zealand's Chatham Islands, protested the move, objecting that it infringed on their claims to be the first land to see dawn in the year 2000.
In 1999, in order to further capitalize upon the massive public interest in celebrations marking the arrival of the year 2000, Caroline Island was officially renamed Millennium Island. Although uninhabited, a special celebration was held on the island, featuring performances by Kiribati native entertainers and attended by Kiribati president Tito. Over 70 Kiribati singers and dancers traveled to Caroline from the capital Tarawa, accompanied by approximately 25 journalists. The celebration, broadcast by satellite worldwide, had an estimated audience of up to one billion viewers.
Caroline Island or Caroline Atoll (also known as Millennium Island and Beccisa Island), is the easternmost of the uninhabited coral atolls which comprise the southern Line Islands in the central Pacific Ocean.
First sighted by Europeans in 1606, claimed by the United Kingdom in 1868, and part of the Republic of Kiribati since the island nation's independence in 1979, Caroline Island has remained relatively untouched and is considered one of the world's most pristine tropical islands, despite guano mining, copra harvesting, and human habitation in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is home to one of the world's largest populations of the coconut crab and is an important breeding site for seabirds, most notably the sooty tern.
The atoll is currently designated as a wildlife sanctuary. In 2014 the Kiribati government established a 12-nautical-mile fishing exclusion zone around each of the southern Line Islands (Caroline (commonly called Millennium), Flint, Vostok, Malden, and Starbuck).The atoll is best known for being the first place on Earth to receive sunlight each day during much of the year, and for its role in the millennium celebrations. A 1995 realignment of the International Date Line made Caroline Island one of the first points of land on Earth to reach January 1, 2000 on the calendar.Filippo Reef
Filippo Reef is a reef that is asserted to be in the Pacific Ocean at 05°30′S 151°50′W, 450 kilometres (280 mi) east of Starbuck Island in the Line Islands. The reef was reported by the master of the Italian barque Filippo as having been seen on 28 June 1886. From an unidentified report of breakers dated 1926, it was estimated to have a water depth of only 0.6 to 0.9 metres (2 to 3 ft), and appeared to be about 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) long northwest to southeast, and less in width.The only sighting referenced shows a date of 1926. The topographic data supplied by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), however, shows a sea depth of 3.3 miles (5.3 km). It is therefore likely that this 1926 report is an error, and that Filippo Reef is a phantom island, and that therefore any maps showing it are relying on the 1926 report and are also in error.
Nevertheless, it is marked in the 2015 edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World.Flint Island
Flint Island is an uninhabited coral island in the central Pacific Ocean, part of the Southern Line Islands under the jurisdiction of Kiribati. In 2014 the Kiribati government established a twelve-nautical-mile (22-kilometre; 14-mile) exclusion zone around each of the southern Line Islands (Caroline (commonly called Millennium), Flint, Vostok, Malden, and Starbuck).Geography of Kiribati
This article describes the geography of the Republic of Kiribati. Kiribati consists of 32 atolls and one island scattered over all four hemispheres in an expanse of ocean equivalent in size to the continental United States. The islands lie roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the Micronesian and Polynesian regions of the South Pacific. The three main island groupings are the Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands, and Line Islands. On 1 January 1995 Kiribati moved the International Date Line to include its easternmost islands and make it the same day throughout the country.Jarvis Island
Jarvis Island (; formerly known as Bunker Island or Bunker's Shoal) is an uninhabited 1 3⁄4-square-mile (4.5 km2) coral island located in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and the Cook Islands. It is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States, administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge system. Unlike most coral atolls, the lagoon on Jarvis is wholly dry.
Jarvis is one of the Line Islands and for statistical purposes is also grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.Kingman Reef
Kingman Reef is a largely submerged, uninhabited triangular-shaped reef, 9.0 nautical miles (17 kilometers) east-west and 4.5 nmi (8 km) north-south, located in the North Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa. It is the northernmost of the Northern Line Islands and lies 36 nautical miles (67 km) northwest of the next closest island (Palmyra Atoll), and 930 nautical miles (1,720 km) south of Honolulu.The reef encloses a lagoon up to 49 fathoms (90 m) deep in its eastern part. The total area within the outer rim of the reef is 20 sq nmi (69 km2). There are two small strips of dry land composed of coral rubble and giant clamshells on the eastern rim with areas of 2 and 1 acre (0.8 and 0.4 ha) having a coastline of 2 miles (3 km). The highest point on the reef is less than 5 feet (1.5 m) above sea level, which is wet or awash most of the time, making Kingman Reef a maritime hazard. It has no natural resources and supports no economic activity.Kiribati
Kiribati (), officially the Republic of Kiribati (Gilbertese: Ribaberiki Kiribati), is a sovereign state in Micronesia in the central Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 110,000 (2015), more than half of whom live on Tarawa Atoll. The state comprises 32 atolls and reef islands and one raised coral island, Banaba. They have a total land area of 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi) and are dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres (1.3 million square miles).
Their spread straddles both the equator and the 180th meridian, although the International Date Line goes round Kiribati and swings far to the east, almost reaching the 150°W meridian. This brings the Line Islands into the same day as the Kiribati Islands. Kiribati's easternmost islands, the southern Line Islands, south of Hawaii, have the most advanced time on Earth: UTC+14 hours.
Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979. The capital, South Tarawa, which is now the most populated area, consists of a number of islets, connected by a series of causeways. These comprise about half the area of Tarawa Atoll.
Kiribati is a member of the Pacific Community (SPC), Commonwealth of Nations, the IMF, and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.Kiribati–Spain relations
Kiribati–Spain relations are the bilateral and diplomatic relations between these two countries. The embassy of Spain in Wellington, New Zealand, is accredited for Kiribati.Kiritimati
Kiritimati or Christmas Island is a Pacific Ocean raised coral atoll in the northern Line Islands. It is part of the Republic of Kiribati. Its name is a respelling of the English word "Christmas" according to the Kiribati language's conventions for the Latin script, in which the combination ti is pronounced s, and the name is thus pronounced .
The island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world, about 388 square kilometres (150 square miles); its lagoon is roughly the same size. The atoll is about 150 km (93 mi) in perimeter, while the lagoon shoreline extends for over 48 km (30 mi). Kiritimati comprises over 70% of the total land area of Kiribati, a country encompassing 33 Pacific atolls and islands.It lies 232 km (144 mi) north of the Equator, 2,160 km (1,340 mi) south of Honolulu, and 5,360 km (3,330 mi) from San Francisco. Kiritimati Island is in the world's farthest forward time zone, UTC+14, and is one of the first inhabited places on Earth to experience the New Year (see also Caroline Atoll, Kiribati). Despite being 2,460 km (1,530 mi) east of the 180 meridian, a 1995 realignment of the International Date Line by the Republic of Kiribati moved Kiritimati to west of the dateline.
Nuclear tests were conducted on and around Kiritimati by the United Kingdom in the late 1950s, and by the United States in 1962. During these tests the island was not evacuated. Subsequently, British, New Zealand, and Fijian servicemen as well as local islanders have suffered from exposure to the radiation from these blasts.
The entire island is a Wildlife Sanctuary; access to five particularly sensitive areas (see below) is restricted.Malden Island
Malden Island, sometimes called Independence Island in the nineteenth century, is a low, arid, uninhabited atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, about 39 km2 (15 sq mi) in area. It is one of the Line Islands belonging to the Republic of Kiribati. The lagoon is entirely enclosed by land, however it is connected to the sea by underground channels, and is quite salty.
The island is chiefly notable for its mysterious prehistoric ruins, its once-extensive deposits of phosphatic guano (exploited by Australian interests from c. 1860–1927), its former use as the site of the first British H-bomb tests (Operation Grapple, 1957), and its current importance as a protected area for breeding seabirds.
The island is designated as the Malden Island Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2014 the Kiribati government established a 12-nautical-mile (14 mi; 22 km) fishing exclusion zone around each of the southern Line Islands (Caroline (commonly called Millennium), Flint, Vostok, Malden, and Starbuck).Micronesia
Micronesia ((UK: , US: ); from Greek: μικρός mikrós "small" and Greek: νῆσος nêsos "island") is a subregion of Oceania, composed of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with two other island regions: Polynesia to the east and Island Melanesia to the south; as well as the wider Austronesian peoples.
The region has a tropical marine climate and is part of the Oceania ecozone. There are five main archipelagos—the Caroline Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, the Mariana Islands, and the Marshall Islands—along with numerous outlying islands.
Politically, the islands of Micronesia are divided between six sovereign nations: the Caroline Islands are divided between the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, the latter often shortened to "FSM" or "Micronesia" and not to be confused with the overall region; the Gilbert Islands and the Line Islands comprise the Republic of Kiribati, except for three of the Line Islands that are United States territories (Palmyra Atoll being noteworthy as the only current incorporated U.S. Territory); the Mariana Islands are in union with the United States, divided between the U.S. Territory of Guam and the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; Nauru is a fully sovereign nation, coextensive with the island of the same name; and the Republic of the Marshall Islands is coextensive with that island group. Also noteworthy is Wake Island, which is claimed by both the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the United States, the latter having actual possession under immediate administration of the United States Air Force.
Human settlement of Micronesia began several millennia ago. There are competing theories about the origin(s) and arrival of the first Micronesians. The earliest known contact with Europeans occurred in 1521, when Spanish ships landed in the Marianas. The term "Micronesia" is usually attributed to Jules Dumont d'Urville's use of it in 1832, but Domeny de Rienzi had used the term a year previously.Palmyra Atoll
Palmyra Atoll () is one of the Northern Line Islands (southeast of Kingman Reef and north of Kiribati Line Islands), located almost due south of the Hawaiian Islands, roughly one-third of the way between Hawaii and American Samoa. The nearest continent is almost 3,355 miles (5,399 kilometers) to the northeast. The atoll is 4.6 sq mi (12 km2), and it is located in the equatorial Northern Pacific Ocean. Its 9 mi (14 km) of coastline has one anchorage known as West Lagoon.
Palmyra Atoll is an unoccupied equatorial Northern Pacific atoll administered as an unorganized incorporated territory, the only one of its kind, by the United States federal government. The 4.6-square-mile (12 km2) territory hosts a variable temporary population of 4–25 "non-occupants", namely staff and scientists employed by various departments of the U.S. government and by The Nature Conservancy, as well as a rotating mix of Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium scholars pursuing research. Portions of the atoll are administered by the Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs. Palmyra Atoll is one of the islands in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands.Solar eclipse of January 3, 1908
A total solar eclipse occurred on January 3, 1908. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide. Totality was visible from Ebon Atoll in German New Guinea (now in Marshall Islands), British Western Pacific Territories (the part now belonging to Kiribati), Line Islands (now in Kiribati), Phoenix Islands (now in Kiribati) on January 4th (Saturday), and Costa Rica on January 3rd (Friday). The green line means eclipse begins or ends at sunrise or sunset. The magenta line means mid eclipse at sunrise or sunset, or northern or southern penumbra limits. The green point means eclipse obscuration of 50%. The blue line means umbral northern and southern limits.Starbuck Island
Starbuck Island (or Volunteer Island) is an uninhabited coral island in the central Pacific, and is part of the Central Line Islands of Kiribati. Former names include "Barren Island", "Coral Queen Island", "Hero Island", "Low Island", and "Starve Island".Subdivisions of Kiribati
In Kiribati, there are no more official subdivisions but it is possible to divide Kiribati geographically into three groups of islands:
Phoenix Islands.Kiribati was divided into 6 districts until independence:
Northern Gilbert Islands
Central Gilbert Island
Southern Gilbert Islands
Line IslandsFour of the former districts (including Tarawa) lie in the Gilbert Islands, where most of the islands' population lives. Only three of the Line Islands are inhabited, while the Phoenix Islands are uninhabited apart from Kanton (31 people) and have no representation. Banaba itself is sparsely inhabited now (295 people in 2010). There is also a representative non-elected of the Banabans relocated to Rabi Island in the nation of Fiji.Tabuaeran
Tabuaeran or Tahanea, known in English as Fanning Atoll (both Gilbertese and English names are recognised), is an atoll that is part of the Line Islands of the central Pacific Ocean and part of Kiribati. The land area is 33.73 square kilometres (13.02 square miles), and the population in 2010 was 1,960. The maximum elevation is about 3 m (10 ft) above high tide.
The lagoon has an area of 110 square kilometres (42 square miles). The deepest water in the lagoon is about 15 metres (49 feet), but most of it is very shallow.Teraina
Teraina or Teeraina, also known as Washington Island (both names are constitutional) is a coral atoll in the central Pacific Ocean and part of the Northern Line Islands which belong to Kiribati. Obsolete names of Teeraina are Prospect Island and New York Island. The island is located approximately 4.71° North latitude and 160.76° West longitude. Teeraina differs from most other atolls in the world in that it has a large freshwater lake (Washington Lake), concealed within its luxuriant coconut palm forest; this is the only permanent freshwater lake in the whole of Kiribati.Measuring about 5.4 by 2.1 kilometres (3.4 by 1.3 miles) NW-SE and SW-NE, it has a land area of about 9.55 square kilometres (3.69 square miles); its circumference is about 15 km (9 mi). The island is generally low-lying, with a maximum elevation ASL of about 5 meters (16 feet), while most of the island rises some three metres (10 feet) high; trees in the dense inland forest grow to several times this height however. At the western end of the island is the capital, Tangkore (or Tengkore). There are (as at the 2010 Census) about 1,690 inhabitants, making it the least-populated of the permanently inhabited Northern Line Islands. However, population density (177 per km2) is three times as high as on Tabuaeran and vastly more than on the much larger (300-plus km2) Kiritimati with its about 15 people/km2.There are two dirt roads around the island's perimeter - an outer (Beach Road) and an inner one (Ring Road). Transport inland is done by boat on artificial canals, rather uniquely for a Pacific island. A 21 meters (69 feet) navigation light tower and two radio masts stand near Tangkore. What cannot be produced locally is shipped in about twice a year; there is also some minor inter-island traffic by ship or boat. The old landing was at the western tip, but this was dangerous due to being exposed to surf breaking on the reef flats; it has been more recently replaced by a new and more easily accessible landing south of Tangkore, where the canal system feeds into the ocean. A rough airstrip of some 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) length exists near Kaaitara. It may become temporarily unusable after heavy rains.Vostok Island
Vostok Island, also known as Staver Island, is an uninhabited coral island in the central Pacific Ocean, part of the Line Islands belonging to Kiribati. Other names for the island include Anne Island, Bostock Island, Leavitts Island, Reaper Island, Wostock Island or Wostok Island. The island was first sighted in 1820 by the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who named the island for his ship Vostok (the name means "East" in Russian).
|West of Gilberts|