Christmas Island Facts
- Most notably, the geographical location bearing the charismatic name of Christmas Island has a storied history. Presently, it remains undetermined by researchers if ancient humans ever used or knew of the location.
- But, the first recorded sighting of the island occurred in 1615. At that time, Richard Rowe of the Thomas reported its sighting. However, Captain William Mynors later named it in honor of the day he encountered it, Christmas Day, 1643.
- Quite fortunately, the unique combination of its relative isolation and a minimal human interference benefited its ecology. Due to these factors, much of its native flora and fauna, some of it unique to the island, remains intact.
- Furthermore, great efforts have been taken to preserve these endemic species. These efforts have been largely successful, despite a long history of phosphate mining on an isolated section of the island. In fact, a total of 63% of the island now comprises the Christmas Island National Park.
Christmas Island Physical Description
First of all, regardless of its distinctiveness, Christmas Island nevertheless remains a physically small location. The quite irregularly shaped island only has a total area of roughly 52 sq mi (135 sq km). However, its unique shape gives it an impressive total of 86.3 mi (138.9 km) of coastline.
Furthermore, the entire island actually comprises the roughly flat summit of an enormous undersea volcano. Additionally, the total height of this huge mountain equals roughly 14,800 ft (4,500 m). But the highest point on Christmas Island itself only reaches about 1,184 ft (361 m) above sea level.
Given that it originally formed as a volcano, areas of basalt still lie exposed. However, the majority of the surface rock actually consists of limestone. This surface area itself actually represents an enormous accumulation due to extreme long-term coral growth.
In addition, extremely steep cliffs line much of the coastline. These, in turn, give way to a central plateau. Outward, a narrow, but quite dangerous coral reef surrounds virtually the entire island. This often poses a severe hazard to ships.
Christmas Island Location, Climate, Flora, and Fauna
Firstly, the beautiful Christmas Island forms a remote external territory of the country of Australia. However, it lies roughly 960 mi (1,550 km) northwest from the closest point of the Australian mainland. It lies in the Indian Ocean, about 220 mi (350 km) south of Sumatra and Java.
Because it lies close to the southern edge of the equatorial region, Christmas Island has a predominantly tropical climate. As a result of this fact, the temperature on the island rarely varies more than a few degrees throughout the year. Typically, this ranges between 73 – 84 F (23 – 29 C). But the wet season often brings torrential monsoon rains.
Much of the island also has a dense covering of tropical rainforest. A total of 25 species of tree dominate much of this, with a smattering of other species. In addition, numerous types of ferns, vines, and orchids also bloom in the area. Of the 135 identified plant species, 18 appear nowhere else on earth.
The site also serves as home to a wide variety of fauna. This includes various types of bats, rats, and shrews. Some of these live nowhere else. Sadly, a few of these have not been seen in many years, and may already be extinct. However, the most prevalent fauna remains the seabirds and crabs, including the Coconut Crab.
Features Sharing Its Region
Check out our other articles on 6 Mysterious Natural Phenomena, Dragon Moray Eel, Rhine Falls, Plumed midge-orchid, Mongolian Wild Horse, Limnonectes larvaepartus, Sapphire Tower, Long-Finned Pilot Whale