With a time zone of GMT +14 hours, Christmas Island (also known as Kiritimati Island) is the largest island of the Republic of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Northern Line Islands. With a population of 5,000, it is the first inhabited place on earth to ring in the New Year. A realignment of time zones in 1995 moved all islands in Kiribati west of the International Date Line so that they would be separated by 1 hour instead of 1 day. When the New Year arrived in Kiritimati, it was only 5 AM EST (GMT - 5) earlier today (December 31st).
Christmas Island was named by British explorer Captain James Cook when he reached the island's coast on Christmas Eve, 1777.
Kiritmati and the other islands of Kirbati lie 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, consists of 32 coral atolls (ring-shaped islands with central lagoons) and 1 ocean island. Christmas Island is the largest. Gilbert Islands have the largest population. Temperatures range from 24° Celsius to 30° Celsius. The majority of the population of about 100,000 speaks Gilbertese.
Groups visiting Christmas Island can enjoy golf, scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing and bird watching.
International flights arrive at Cassidy International Airport. Accommodation is available in 24 rooms and 20 attractive, thatched beach bungalows at Captain Cook Hotel. Unique features include shower stalls heated by solar energy. The hotel has a conference room.