The Territory of Christmas Island is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It is 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, 360 km (220 mi) south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, 975 km (606 mi) ENE of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and 2,748 km (1,708 mi) west of the Territorian city of Darwin.
The past five weeks have seen a mass break-out and riot at Christmas Island, Australia's high security offshore processing facility for asylum seekers, and now another violent protest at the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney thought to involve men from Kurdish Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
Kamar Ismail was driving to the shops Wednesday morning, Dec. 15, when he saw a small group of people gathered near the edge of a cliff, not far from his home on Christmas Island, an Australian atoll 1,600 miles (2,600 km) northwest of Perth. It was just 7 a.m., and upon seeing the crowd, he knew that something was wrong. As he approached, he looked down and saw a small boat being thrashed about in the waves.
All boat people seeking asylum in Australia are first brought here to Christmas Island, just 220 miles south of Indonesia but nearly 1,000 miles from the Australian mainland, and most are now held at enormous cost within the center’s electrified, 13-foot-high razor-wire fences.
But even as boats arrive every few days, advocates for refugees and even the government’s own human rights commission are urging the government to close the place down and sort the asylum-seekers on the mainland.
As of now people seeking asylum on Christmas Island will have to wait to be transferred to mainland Australia, after typhoid fever was detected on the island.
The Immigration Department has confirmed that two crew members on separate asylum boats have been diagnosed with typhoid, The Australian reports. A spokeswoman says they were immediately isolated and one of the men has since been transferred to a hospital on the mainland. The department says it is working with local and state health authorities to ensure the disease does not spread to Christmas Island residents. There are just under 1,500 asylum seekers on the island.
Christmas Island deserves a prominent place in the news. It has unique biodiversity and has often been described as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean. This uniqueness extends into the marine environment, where Australia’s most pristine coral reefs teem with an amazing array of animals.
Christmas Island was named on Christmas Day 1643 by Captain William Mynors, the Master of a passing ship. The first landing was recorded by William Dampier in 1688. For the next two centuries little interest was shown in the Island due to its rugged coastline.
Following the discovery of phosphate deposits the Island was annexed by Britain in 1888.
Cars vanish under a pile of struggling crabs as 130 million crustaceans crawl through the sleepy streets of this tiny Indian Ocean island on their way to the sea to spawn.
The monsoon has arrived in Christmas Island, home to 1,400 people, triggering the dreaded crab migration.
For two weeks, millions of crabs move as one in the long, wet summer afternoons, blanketing the roads and making their clumsy way across 33,840 acres of land from their rain-forest habitat to the ocean.
It was occupied by the Japanese army from March 1942 until August 1945. In 1947 the Straits Settlements ceased to exist, and Singapore, together with Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island, became the Colony of Singapore. From 1 January to 30 September 1958, Christmas Island was a British Crown colony. Subsequently, it became an Australian territory, administered initially by the minister for external territories.
Geographically located in southeastern Asia, 115 miles north of the equator Christmas is an island in the heart of the Indian Ocean, covering a total area of 135 sq km. Also known as Kiribati, Christmas Island is the largest atoll in the Pacific. It is a summit of a submarine mountain, rising to a central plateau dominated by rainforest. Almost two-thirds of the island has been declared a national park, sheltering a limited and highly distinctive native fauna. Christmas Island enjoys a tropical monsoonal climate with temperatures hovering between 21°C and 32°C.
Christmas Island is a remote territory owned by Australia, but situated closer to Indonesia’s Java. Known as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean – due to its endemic flora and fauna – the island is generally more popular with scientists and naturalists than it is with tourists.
Despite only receiving attention for detention centre activity or the annual migration of sixty million red land crabs, Christmas Island is a great place to relax and holiday.