History

The island has been discovered by Captain William Mynors on the 25th of December, 1643 and called it therefore Christmas Island. The first recorded landing on Christmas Island took place in 1688 by William Dampier when he was enroute to Sumatra, Indonesia. Around 1820s, the Clunies Ross family used the island for their stop-overs when enroute from Batavia (Jakarta) or Singapore to the Cocos Keeling Islands where they exploited a coconut industry.Geography

Christmas Island is located 360 km south of the island of Java (Indonesia) and 2600 km north-west of Perth. Cosos Keeling Islands are located 900 km west of Christmas Island. The island is the top of a submarine mountain rising from the depths of the Java trench and has an area of 142 square kilometers. The central plateau is varying in height between approx. 200-350 meters. Most of the island is surrounded by coral reefs, cliffs and wave-cut terraces which can reach heights of up to 50 meters. There is virtually no coastal shelf and the sea drops to a depth of about 500 meters within 200 off shore. The island is almost entirely covered with limestone. The central plateau is covered by a rainforest with trees up to 45 meters.Flora and fauna

The rainforest supports large communities of plants and animals, many of them are unique to the island. Presently there are 15 species of endemic plants and 17 species of endemic animals that have been discovered. Notably amongst these are the rare Abbott's Booby, Christmas Frigatebird and the Golden Bosunbird. Large numbers of terrestrial crabs dominate the forest floor. Over 85 square km (60%) of the island is now part of the National Park. The park protects and preserves the important ecological systems which characterize the island.Climate

Christmas Island's climate is described as tropical, heat and humidity moderate by trade winds. It is influenced by the north-west monsoons from December to April and the south-east trade winds for the remainder of the year. It has an average rainfall of 2000-2500 mm per year. The average temperature ranges from 22-28 degrees Celsius. The humidity is between 80-90%. Tropical cyclones occasionally pass near the island. A severe storm caused major damage in 1988.Languages

The official language spoken is English. However, several dialects of Chinese, Malay and Tamil are spoken.

Population

Christmas Island has a small community and is scattered over only a limited area of the island. The total population ranges between 1200 and 1500 and is a mixture of different races. Originally, each race had its own location around the island but this is not maintained so strictly anymore. However, the majority of the races live still in there 'own' villages. Poon Saan is where the Chinese are living. They form about 60% of the total population. Kampong is mainly Malay and form 25% of the population. The remaining 15% are European Australians, living in Taman Sweetland and Silver City.Religion

With the arrival of the different races on the island, different cultures and religions also were introduced. Each group is still maintaining their own religion and culture which can be observed when touring the island. There are Buddhist temples, Chinese cemeteries, a mosque, etc. scattered around the island. This mixture of cultures also results in a variety of public holidays such as the Chinese New Year and moon cake festival, the Islamic Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji or the Christian Easter, Christmas and other Australian public holidays.<Post Office

* The following information is reflecting the situation of 1996.

The only post office is located at the Settlement and is open on Monday till Friday from 09:00-16:00 hr. Special stamps and first day covers are available. In some cases. Even Cocos Keeling stamps are used! There is a good assortment of stamps, first day covers, etc. Very good maps of the island are also available for about 12 dollars. The post office is next to the bank.Health

Basic medical health care is provided by the well equipped hospital on the island. If specialist treatment is necessary of emergency evacuation is necessary, arrangements need to be made for transfer to Perth.Water

Water is safe to drink from the tap. Water is pumped and treated from springs and underground streams on the island.Electricity

The electric power available is 240 VAC - 50 Hz.Currency

The Australian currency is the only official legal currency. At some places, US dollars also accepted (super market at Poon Saan and probably other shops as well). Money can be exchanged at the Westpac Banking Corporation at Settlement. Even cash money can be drafted by credit card. The bank is open from Monday till Friday from 10:00-16:00 hr.

Accommodation

Various forms, but limited, accommodation is available. Accommodation can be obtained from the Christmas Island Resort which operates the hotel and casino at Waterfall, or the lodge at Poon Saan.
The hotel is located near sea level on the east coast of the island. It provides five star accommodation with all the associated facilities such as swimming pool, courtesy bus service, restaurant, pushbike, sauna and casino.
The Christmas Island Lodge at Poon Saan has standard rooms with air conditioning, satellite TV, refrigerator and en suite bathroom. All linen is supplied and daily room cleaning. Communal kitchen with tea and coffee making facilities and basic kitchenware is available. Courtesy bus service at the hour from Poon Saan to the hotel, 24 hr.
Other accommodation can be found from VQ3 at Settlement on the northern coast of the island. It is backpacker style accommodation with verandah area, shared ablutions. The rooms include air-conditioning, tea/coffee making facilities, refrigerator and TV, basic furniture and linen provided.
Visa requirements Visa should be obtained from the Australian embassy. In my case, the visa was obtained from the Australian embassy in Jakarta in one day. No fee is requested.Beaches

Christmas Island's rugged coastline provides a few accessible beaches. Flying Fish Cove has a sandy beach which is perfect for families and snorkelers. Other beaches such as Dolly, Ethel, Lily and Greta area are accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicle only. Winifred and Ethel Beach have good snorkeling in calm water.Golf

Christmas Island has a 6-hole golf course situated on the top of cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. Christmas Island is developing tourism at a low scale and various activities are offered by individuals and organisations.

 

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