Christmas Island

Christmas Island

The Christmas Island ( Territory of Christmas Island ) is a 135 km ², politically Australia owned island in the Indian Ocean. Maintained it is from the Australian Department of Transport and Regional Affairs. Capital is Flying Fish Cove.

Geography

The Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, 350 km south of Java and 2616 km north-west of Perth. The island is about 135 km ². It consists of a volcanic core ( trachyte and basalt ) and limestone from the skeletons of chamber Lingen ( Foraminifera ) and stony corals ( Scleractinia ) has emerged. She rises from an ocean depth of 2000 m and extends about 350 m above the sea level. The highest point is the Murray Hill in the west of the island with a height of 361 meters. The coast is rugged and difficult to access. A significant portion of the island is a nature reserve. 1980 of the 85 square kilometer Christmas Island National Park was established.

Flora and Fauna

The Christmas Island is covered in large part with tropical rainforest.

While the animal world had previously suffered from the massive phosphate mining, today the introduced from Africa Yellow Spinner ant ( Anoplolepis gracilipes ) is the largest threat to the native wildlife dar. It searches for means to mitigate those ant species that are already on a quarter of the island is widespread.

The red-colored Christmas Island crabs ( Gecarcoidea natalis ) are found only here and on the Cocos Islands. Every year in November (depending on the moon phase) flow millions of crabs from the forest to the coast, to cast their eggs into the sea there. There is also the island's largest population of the coconut crab ( Birgus latro ).

Overall, the invertebrate animals of Christmas Island are poorly understood and hundreds of species are still waiting for their description. Captures are currently 14 worm species, 70 species of moths and various butterflies, 90 species of beetles and various arachnids. 53 species were ( intentionally or unintentionally) introduced, including honey bees, fruit flies, cockroaches, the Great agate snail and the already mentioned Yellow Spinner ant.

Overall, one finds on the island of 23 bird species, including 9 species of seabirds. Birds that breed only on this island, the Christmas Island Frigatebird ( Fregata andrewsi ), the Graufußtölpel ( Papasula abbotti ), the Christmas Island Buschkauz ( Ninox natalis ), the Dark fruit dove ( Ducula whartoni ) and a subspecies of the bands hawk, Christmas Island are bands goshawk ( Accipiter fasciatus natalis ) and one subspecies, the South Seas Bluebird Christmas Island Pacific (Turdus poliocephalus erythropleurus ). Also, the White -tailed Tropicbird ( Phaethon lepturus fulvus), which adorns the flag as an emblem of the territory is endemic to this island.

Originally it was on Christmas Island five mammalian species. The two former domestic rats that Christmas Island rat and the rat - Maclear, already died shortly after receiving the phosphate mining. The Christmas Island Shrew ( Crocidura trichura ), which was thought to be extinct in the early 20th century, was rediscovered in the late 1990s. In intensive search in 2000, but no more copy could be detected. The stocks of the two species of bats Christmas Island Pipistrelle ( Pipistrellus murrayi ) and Christmas Island Flying-fox ( Pteropus natalis melanotus ) are rapidly declining. Four species were introduced: the house rat, the house mouse, the house cat and the domestic dog.

Five of the originally occurring six reptile species are endemic: two skinks, two geckos and a blind snake species. Five other species were introduced, including the Asian House Gecko ( Hemidactylus frenatus ).

1980, the Christmas Island National Park was established, so that the island is now two-thirds under protection.

Population

On the island is estimated that about 2100 people ( as of July 2011). Compared to 2001, when still 2771 people lived on Christmas Island, the number of residents is declining, it has increased in recent years, however, again. The majority of the population consists of Chinese (70 %), Europeans ( 20%) and Malays (10 %). Due to the Chinese majority, Buddhism is the largest religion on Christmas Island, followed by Islam, Christianity and Daoism. Common languages ​​of the island are English, Chinese and Malay. The population growth is 2.6 % per year. On the remote island there is a reception center for asylum seekers.

History

The island was seamen since the early 17th century known. It was named by Captain William Mynors, who the British East India Company ship belonging to Royal Mary reached with the on December 25, 1643. Due to the date, the island got its name. The first visit paid from the island in 1688 William Dampier, who found the island uninhabited.

After phosphate deposits were discovered on the island, it was in 1888 annexed by the British Crown. Shortly thereafter began the settlement, mostly with workers from Singapore, China and Malaysia. As of 1890, phosphate was mined and mines have been established.

During World War II, the island was occupied on 31 March 1942 by Japan. Only in October 1945, the island was taken back by the United Kingdom in possession.

On 1 October 1958, the island of the sovereignty of Australia was transferred.

Traffic

International Christmas Island is connected by the Christmas Island Airport. On Christmas Island there was next to the road and a railway line, the Christmas Island Phosphate Railway, which was built for the phosphate mining, but is now shut down.

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