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Whereis > WA > Christmas Island

Map of Christmas Island, WA 6798

The Territory of Christmas Island is an Australian external territory in Southeast Asia comprising the island of the same name. It is located in the Indian Ocean around 350 kilometres (190 nautical miles) south of Java and Sumatra and about 1,550 km (840 nmi) northwest of the closest point on the Australian mainland. It has an area of 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi).

Christmas Island had a population of 1,692 residents as of 2021, the majority living in settlements on the northern edge of the island. The main settlement is Flying Fish Cove. Historically, Asian Australians of Chinese, Malay, and Indian descent formed the majority of the population. Today, around two-thirds of the island's population is estimated to have Straits Chinese origin (though just 22.2% of the population declared a Chinese ancestry in 2021), with significant numbers of Malays and European Australians and smaller numbers of Straits Indians and Eurasians. Several languages are in use including English, Malay, and various Chinese dialects. Islam and Buddhism are major religions on the island. The religion question in the Australian census is optional, and 28% of the population do not declare their religious belief.The first European to sight Christmas Island was Richard Rowe of the Thomas in 1615. Captain William Mynors named it on Christmas Day, 25 December 1643. It was first settled in the late 19th century. Christmas Island's geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of endemism among its flora and fauna, which is of interest to scientists and naturalists. The majority (63%) of the island is included in the Christmas Island National Park, which features several areas of primary monsoonal forest.

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