Line Islands

Line Islands

Line Islands or Equatorial Islands, coral group, 43 sq mi (111 sq km), central and S Pacific. Once valuable for their guano deposits, the islands now have coconut groves, airfields, and meteorological stations. Of the 11 islands in the group, 8 comprise part of the Republic of Kiribati: Teraina, Tabuaeran, Kiritimati (formerly Washington, Fanning, and Christmas Islands), Malden, Starbuck, Caroline, Vostok, and Flint. Kingman Reef, Palmyra, and Jarvis Island are dependencies of the United States. The islands were uninhabited when discovered by American sailors in 1798, although a few show evidence of ancient Polynesian culture. The British government once conducted hydrogen bomb tests on Malden.

The Line Islands, or Equatorial Islands, are a group of eleven atolls and low coral islands in the central Pacific Ocean south of the Hawaiian Islands, eight of which belong to Kiribati, while three are United States territories grouped with the United States Minor Outlying Islands. Those that are part of the Republic of Kiribati are in the world's furthest forward time zone, UTC+14. The time of day is the same as in Hawaii, but the date is one day ahead. The time is 25 hours ahead of some other islands in Oceania.

All the islands in this group are or were claimed by the United States except Filippo Reef.

The group is geographically divided in three subgroups, Northern, Central, and Southern Line Islands. The Central Line Islands are sometimes grouped with the Southern Line Islands. The table is listing the islands from north to south.

Atoll/Island/Reef Island Area
Coordinates Status
Northern Line Islands (Fanning's Group)
Kingman Reef 0.03 60 U.S. unincorporated territory
Palmyra Atoll 6.56 15 U.S. incorporated territory
Teraina (Washington Island) 14.2 2* Kiribati Island Council
Tabuaeran (Fanning Island) 33.7 110 Kiribati Island Council
Kiritimati (Christmas Island) c.322 c.320 Kiribati Island Council
Central Line Islands
Jarvis Island 4.45 - U.S. unincorporated territory
Malden Island 39.3 13* part of Kiribati
Filippo Reef - 1.5 outside EEZ
Starbuck Island 21 25 part of Kiribati
Southern Line Islands
Caroline Island 3.76 2.5 part of Kiribati
Vostok Island 0.24 - part of Kiribati
Flint Island 3 - part of Kiribati
'''Line Islands 514,74 538

* The lagoon areas marked with an asterisk are contained within the island areas of the previous column because they are, unlike in the case of a typical atoll, inland waters completely sealed off from the sea.

Only three islands are inhabited, with a total population of 8,809 (census of 2005), of which 5,115 are on Kiritimati, 2,539 on Tabuaeran, and 1,155 on Teraina. The total population of these three atolls in 1900 was about 300.

Kiritimati is the largest atoll in the world in terms of land area. The islands were annexed by Britain in 1888 with a view to laying the Pacific cable with Tabuaeran (then Fanning Island) as a relay station. That cable functioned between 1902 and 1963 except for a short period in 1914.

Copra and "Petfish" are the main export products (with seaweed).

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