Island history

Even though 63 per cent of Christmas Island's 135 square kilometres is protected as a National Park most people only know Christmas Island as a place for people seeking asylum. Few people know it as a place of natural beauty, where a unique ecosystem of plants and animals has developed over millions of years.

Today Christmas Island has a laid back atmosphere that has come from many cultures blending together harmoniously. Since its discovery the island has had an interesting history.

The first written record of the existence of the Island was made in 1615. Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary passed the Island and named it on Christmas day 25 December 1643.

The discovery of phosphate in 1888 led to an imported workforce of Chinese, Malays and Sikhs who often endured appalling conditions. You will hear many residents on the island still speak their cultural language of Bahasa melayu, many of the Chinese dialects, Cocos Malay, English and quite a few more.

Christmas Island has belonged to Britain, the New Colony of Singapore and Australia. Britain transferred sovereignty of the island to Australia in 1958, becoming an Australian Territory.