|Capital||Flying Fish Cove|
|Currency||Australian dollar (AUD)|
|edit on Wikidata|
Named in 1643 for the day of its discovery, the island was annexed and settlement was begun by the UK in 1888. Phosphate mining began in the 1890s. The island was initially administered as part of the Straits Settlements, and subsequently as part of the colony of Singapore. Sovereignty was subsequently transferred to Australia in 1958. Almost two-thirds of the island has been declared a national park.
The Australian Government in 2001 agreed to support the creation of a commercial space-launching site on the island, which now looks unlikely to proceed after funding was withdrawn.
Christmas Island rises to a central plateau of stands of rainforest. Its 80km coastline is an almost continuous sea cliff up to 20 metres high, with a few shallow bays of small sand and coral shingle beaches. The largest of these forms the island's only port, Flying Fish Cove, which is also called "The Settlement". Other settled areas, all in the north east, are Poon Saan, Silver City, Drumsite and Kampong.
Steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to central plateau. Rain forest covers the majority of the island, with small areas of the island under rehabilitation from mining. Sandy to Rocky beaches scattered along the coastline of the island separated by steep limestone cliffs.
Cocos Islands is the closest land to Christmas Island and there are weekly connecting flights which take about 1 hour.