Christmas Island Facts
- Perhaps 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 even knew of the location.
- The first recorded sighting of the island, though, occurred in 1615. At that time, Richard Rowe of the Thomas reported spotting the site. However, Captain William Mynors later named the island in honor of the day he encountered it, Christmas Day, 1643.
- Fortunately for history, 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, still remains intact.
- Great efforts have been taken to preserve these endemic species. That same effort continues to this day, as well. These efforts have been largely successful, despite a long history of phosphate mining on an isolated section of Christmas Island.
- In fact, a total of 63% of the island now comprises the Christmas Island National Park. This provides a certain measure of protection from the depredations of man. Nonetheless, it behooves us to be vigilant in our efforts at preserving the site.
Christmas Island Physical Description
Regardless of its distinctiveness, Christmas Island nevertheless is a physically small location. The highly irregularly shaped island only has a total area of roughly 52 sq mi (135 sq km). Its unique shape covers an impressive total of 86.3 mi (138.9 km) of coastline.
The entire island actually comprises the roughly flat summit of an undersea volcano. The total height of this huge mountain equals about 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. The majority of the surface rock, though, actually consists of limestone. This surface area itself actually represents an enormous accumulation due to extreme long-term coral growth.
Extremely steep cliffs also line much of the coastline of Christmas Island. These, in turn, give way to a central plateau. Outward, a narrow, but quite dangerous coral reef surrounds virtually the entire island. This natural feature often poses a severe hazard to ships.
Christmas Island Location, Climate, Flora, and Fauna
The beautiful Christmas Island forms a remote external territory of the country of Australia. 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 formed close to the southern edge of the equatorial region, Christmas Island understandably boasts 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.
Numerous types of ferns, vines, and dazzling 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 species live nowhere else on earth. Sadly, a few of these have not been seen in many years, and may already be extinct. The most prevalent fauna of Christmas Island consists of the various seabirds and crabs, including the impressive 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