Flying Fish Commonwealth Walkway

Christmas Island / The Pacific

Christmas Island is a non-self-governing Australian external territory (one of two states and territories of Australia – the other being the Cocos (Keeling Islands).  It comes under the authority of the Governor-General of Australia with an Administrator living on the island. It is a rocky speck in the Indian Ocean, 19 kilometres long, and 14.5 wide, situated 2,600 kilometres north-west of Perth.  It is by no means a typical tropical island paradise.  Nicknamed the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean”, the island is famous for its red crabs, sea birds, whale sharks and spectacular coral reefs.  Almost two-thirds consists of the national park, with several areas of primary monsoonal forest.  Closer to Asia than to mainland Australia, it is home to a mix of cultures and some of the world's most spectacular natural wonders.  Today, around two-thirds of the island's population is estimated to be of Malaysian Chinese or Singaporean Chinese origin. In addition, several languages are in use, including English, Malay, and various Chinese dialects.  Islam and Buddhism are the major religions.   The first European to sight the island was Richard Rowe on board the ship, Thomas, in 1615. The island was given its name on Christmas Day 1643 by Captain William Mynors of the East India Company but only settled in the late 19th century.  Its 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.   For some years Christmas Island was administered by Singapore.  Then in 1942, the island was invaded by the Japanese and in 1958 was given to Australia under the UK Christmas Island Act. Capital The capital and chief port are located at Flying Fish Cove on the northeastern part of the island.  Flying Fish Cove is fronted by a coral shelf with white sand, which extends a short distance offshore. That is a popular recreational area for swimming, snorkelling, diving, canoeing and other aquatic activities.  Because Christmas Island is the tip of an ancient volcano, the depth 200 meters from the shore is about the same - 200 meters, but when about three to four miles offshore, depths go to 2,000 meters. Fun Facts  Residents here are known as Christmas Islanders. More than 20 land crab species live on Christmas Island, including an estimated 45 million red crabs, which shape and maintain the health of the island’s unique rainforests. The annual breeding migration of the red crabs is a popular event.  It is wrong to touch a stranger’s head on Christmas Island, as this is considered extremely intimate.

5 miles / 8 kilometres

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