Pacific Ocean atoll in the Republic of Kiribati
North Pacific Ocean, part of the Line Islands
Total Area
388.39 km², the largest atoll by land area worldwide
7,380 (2020 census)
Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island, is a Pacific Ocean atoll in the northern Line Islands that is part of the Republic of Kiribati. It is one of the world's largest atolls in terms of land area, consisting of about 312 square km (120 square miles) of land and a 328 square km (127 square mile) lagoon. The atoll is about 150 km (93 miles) in perimeter, while the lagoon shoreline extends for over 48 km (30 miles). Kiritimati comprises over 70% of the total land area of Kiribati.

Key Facts about Kiritimati

  • It lies 232 km (144 miles) north of the equator, 2,160 km (1,340 miles) south of Honolulu, and 5,360 km (3,330 miles) from San Francisco.
  • Kiritimati is in the world's farthest forward time zone, UTC+14, and is one of the first inhabited places on Earth to experience New Year's Day.
  • The island's population has increased in recent years, from about 2,000 in 1989 to about 6,456 in 2015, with the main villages being Banana, Tabwakea, London, and Poland.
  • The entire island is a Wildlife Sanctuary, with access to five particularly sensitive areas being restricted.
  • Nuclear tests were conducted on and around Kiritimati by the United Kingdom in the late 1950s and by the United States in 1962, exposing residents and servicemen to radiation.

Tourism and Activities

Kiritimati is a popular international tourism destination, known for world-class saltwater fly fishing, birdwatching, diving, surfing, and lagoon tours. It offers both fly fishing on the flats and offshore blue water game fishing opportunities. Other popular activities include mantis shrimp hunting, exploring Operation Grapple relics (from the nuclear tests), cultural and community tours, island sightseeing tours, and lagoon cruises for whale and manta ray watching.
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