Christmas Island - CX - CXR - Australia and Oceania

Last updated: April 12, 2024
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Christmas Island Factbook Data

Dependency status

non-self-governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities & Regional Development

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (territory of Australia)

Age structure

0-14 years: 12.79% (male 147/female 135)

15-64 years: 12.2% (male 202/female 67)

65 years and over: 5.44% (male 84/female 36) (2017 est.)

Geographic coordinates

10 30 S, 105 40 E

Sex ratio


Natural hazards

the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard

Area - comparative

about three-quarters the size of Washington, DC


Although Europeans sighted Christmas Island as early as 1615, it was only named in 1643 by English Captain William MYNORS for the day of its rediscovery. Another English ship sailed past the island in 1688 and found it to be uninhabited. Steep cliffs and dense jungle hampered attempts to explore the island over the next two centuries. The discovery of phosphate on the island in 1887 led to the UK annexing it the following year. In 1898, the Christmas Island Phosphate Company brought in 200 Chinese indentured servants to work the mines, along with Malays, Sikhs, and a small number of Europeans. The UK administered Christmas Island from Singapore.

Japan invaded the island in 1942, but islanders sabotaged Japanese mining operations, making the mines relatively unproductive. After World War II, Australia and New Zealand bought the Christmas Island Phosphate Company, and in 1958, the UK transferred sovereignty from Singapore to Australia in exchange for $20 million to compensate for the loss of future phosphate income. In 1980, Australia set up the Christmas Island National Park and expanded its boundaries throughout the 1980s until it covered more than 60% of the island’s territory. The phosphate mine was closed in 1987 because of environmental concerns, and Australia has rejected several efforts to reopen it.

In the 1980s, boats of asylum seekers started landing on Christmas Island, and the migrants claimed refugee status because they were on Australian territory. In 2001, Australia declared Christmas Island to be outside the Australian migration zone and built an immigration detention center on the island. Completed in 2008, the controversial detention center was closed in 2018 but then reopened in 2019. In 2020, the center served as a coronavirus quarantine facility for Australian citizens evacuated from China.

Environment - current issues

loss of rainforest; impact of phosphate mining

Exports - commodities

calcium phosphates, fertilizers, barometers, electrical transformers, sulfates (2021)

Administrative divisions

none (territory of Australia)

Agricultural products



revenues: NA

expenditures: NA


name: The Settlement (Flying Fish Cove)

geographic coordinates: 10 25 S, 105 43 E

time difference: UTC+7 (12 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: self-descriptive name for the main locus of population

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, iron structures, aircraft, crustaceans (2019)


tropical with a wet season (December to April) and dry season; heat and humidity moderated by trade winds


138.9 km


history: 1 October 1958 (Christmas Island Act 1958)

amendments: amended many times, last in 2020

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
1.311 (2017 est.)
1.3442 (2016 est.)
1.3442 (2015)
1.3291 (2014 est.)
1.1094 (2013 est.)

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia General David HURLEY (since 1 July 2019)

head of government: Administrator Ms. Farzian ZAINAL (since 11 May 2023)

cabinet: NA

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Australian prime minister; administrator appointed by the governor-general of Australia for a 2-year term and represents the monarch and Australia

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Flag description

territorial flag; divided diagonally from upper hoist to lower fly; the upper triangle is green with a yellow image of the Golden Bosun Bird superimposed; the lower triangle is blue with the Southern Cross constellation, representing Australia, superimposed; a centered yellow disk displays a green map of the island

note: the flag of Australia is used for official purposes


none (territory of Australia)


tourism, phosphate extraction (near depletion)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): under the terms of the Territorial Law Reform Act 1992, Western Australia provides court services as needed for the island, including the Supreme Court and subordinate courts (District Court, Magistrate Court, Family Court, Children's Court, and Coroners' Court)

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2018 est.)

other: 100% (2018 est.)

Legal system

legal system is under the authority of the governor general of Australia and Australian law

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Christmas Island Shire Council (9 seats; members directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: held every 2 years with half the members standing for election; last held in October 2023 (next to be held in October 2025)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - independent 9; composition as of January 2024 - men 9, women 1, percent of women 11.1%

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 12 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

International organization participation


National holiday

Australia Day (commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of Australian settlers), 26 January (1788)


noun: Christmas Islander(s)

adjective: Christmas Island

Natural resources

phosphate, beaches

Geography - note

located along major sea lanes of the Indian Ocean

Economic overview

high-income Australian territorial economy; development through government services and phosphate mining; operates Australia’s Immigration Detention Centre; increasing tourism and government investments; sustained environmental protections

Political parties and leaders


Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Flying Fish Cove


18 years of age

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: internet access on Christmas Island is provided by satellite; improvements through the Regional Connectivity Program to the macro and small cell mobile sites will provide new and improved mobile, voice and data connectivity for residents and visitors; the upgrade will also support local businesses and community facilities, enabling increased residential access to essential services such as telehealth and education (2022)

domestic: improvements to Christmas Island include an upgrade to the macro cell base stations and deploy a new macro cell base station at the airport (2022)

international: international code - 61 8; ASC submarine cable to Singapore and Australia; satellite earth station - 1 (Intelsat provides telephone and telex service) (2019)


steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to central plateau

Government type

non-self-governing overseas territory of Australia

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of Australia

Country name

conventional long form: Territory of Christmas Island

conventional short form: Christmas Island

etymology: named by English Captain William MYNORS for the day of its rediscovery, Christmas Day (25 December 1643); the island had been sighted by Europeans as early as 1615


Southeastern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia

Map references

Southeast Asia

Irrigated land


Diplomatic representation in the US

none (territory of Australia)

Internet country code


Broadcast media

1 community radio station; satellite broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations (2017)

National anthem

note: as a territory of Australia, "Advance Australia Fair" remains official as the national anthem, while "God Save the King" serves as the royal anthem (see Australia)
This is an audio of the National Anthem for Christmas Island. The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.

National symbol(s)

golden bosun bird


see Australia

Population distribution

majority of the population lives on the northern tip of the island

Ethnic groups

Chinese 70%, European 20%, Malay 10% (2001)

note: no indigenous population


Muslim 19.4%, Buddhist 18.3%, Roman Catholic 8.8%, Protestant 6.5% (includes Anglican 3.6%, Uniting Church 1.2%, other 1.7%), other Christian 3.3%, other 0.6%, none 15.3%, unspecified 27.7% (2016 est.)


English (official) 27.6%, Mandarin 17.2%, Malay 17.1%, Cantonese 3.9%, Min Nan 1.6%, Tagalog 1%, other 4.5%, unspecified 27.1% (2016 est.)

note: data represent language spoken at home

Disputes - international

none identified


highest point: Murray Hill 361 m

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

Current health expenditure


Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

Imports - partners

Australia 80%, United States 7%, Canada 5% (2019)

Exports - partners

Malaysia 36%, New Zealand 21%, Indonesia 20%, Australia 10% (2019)

Contraceptive prevalence rate


Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: NA

youth dependency ratio: NA

elderly dependency ratio: NA

potential support ratio: NA

Labor force


Total fertility rate



2,205 (2016 est.)

Internet users

total: 1,139 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 78.6% (2021 est.)


total: 135 sq km

land: 135 sq km

water: 0 sq km


total: 142 km

paved: 32 km

unpaved: 110 km (2011)


1 (2024)

Infant mortality rate

total: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Death rate


Birth rate


Children under the age of 5 years underweight


Life expectancy at birth

total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA


total: 18 km (2017)

standard gauge: 18 km (2017) 1.435-m (not in operation)

note: the 18-km Christmas Island Phosphate Company Railway between Flying Fish Cove and South Point was decommissioned in 1987; some tracks and scrap remain in place

Education expenditures


Population growth rate

1.11% (2014 est.)