Christmas Island

Flag of Christmas Island

The Frigate Bird

 

 

Country Territory of Christmas Island  (Link to map of Christmas Island relative to Australia.)
Continent Oceana (northwest of Australia)
Capital The Settlement
Population 2,205
Language English (Official), Chinese (various dialects), Malay
Religion Unaffiliated (52%), Buddhist (17%), Christian (16%), Muslim (15%)
Terrain Steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to the central plateau

Christmas Island has many caves of different types.

Sports Caving and diving around coral reef beds are major attractions to Christmas Island.
Animals Christmas Island has many indigenous species, including different crabs, birds and butterflies.

The frigate bird (see picture above) is a seabird that breeds only on Christmas Island.  It is critically endangered due to loss of rainforest cleared for phosphate mining which reduced nesting sites, and the introduction of predators such as cats, rats and ants.

Facts of Interest The island was named by English Captain William Mynors when he discovered the island on December 25, 1643.

Ethnicity is 70% Chinese, 20% European and 10% Malay

During WWII, Christmas Island was invaded by Japan, and about 60% of the population was sent to prison camps in Surabaya, now the 2nd largest city in Indonesia.

After the WWII, the island became a part of the British Colony of Singapore.  In January, 1958, it became a territory of Australia

Almost 2/3 of the island is a national park

Mining phosphate is the major source of income.

Australia has built an Immigration Detention Center on the island.  Support services include policing, customs, and quarantine.

Christmas Island is on the major shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and plays a defense role for Australia.

Concerns Rainforest loss and coral bleaching are the major environmental concerns.

Christmas Island is a destination for refugees.  Asylum seekers are from many countries, including Kurds from the Middle East, Tamils from Sri Lanka, Afghanis, and many other locations.  Several people died in their attempts to reach Christmas Island, as the only harbor is very dangerous.  The Australian people are demanding more transparency regarding the identity and status of refugees, and aiding them.

Mission Missions and pastoral care focus on locals and the refugees passing through the detention center.  The refugees/asylum seekers have great needs.

Several medical missions also focus on the Christmas Island refugees.

Sources CIA.gov, The Sidney Morning Herald (www.smh.com.au), Canberra Refugee Action Committee (http://refugeeaction.org/category/christmas-island/), International Teams (www.iteams.org.au), Christmas Island Traveller Information (http://regional.gov.au/territories/Christmas/traveller_info.aspx), Australian Geographic (http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/)