The Territory of Christmas Island is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean, composed of one island. It has a population of 2,072 residents who live in a number of "settlement areas" on the northern tip of the island: Flying Fish Cove (also known as Kampong), Silver City, Poon Saan, and Drumsite. The majority of the population are Chinese Australian of Malaysian Chinese descent. It was named "Christmas Island" because it was discovered on Christmas Day (25 December 1643).
The island's geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of endemism among its flora and fauna, which is of interest to scientists and naturalists. Sixty-three percent of its 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi) is an Australian national park. There exist large areas of primary monsoonal forest.
Phosphate, deposited originally as guano, has been mined on the island for many years.
First visit by Europeans
Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary, an English East India Company vessel, named the island when he sailed past it on Christmas Day, in 1643. The island was included on English and Dutch navigation charts as early as the beginning of the 17th century, but it was not until 1666 that a map published by Dutch cartographer Pieter Goos included the island. Goos labelled the island "Mony", the meaning of which is unclear. English navigator William Dampier, aboard the English ship Cygnet, made the earliest recorded visit to the sea around the island in March 1688. He found it uninhabited. Dampier gave an account of the visit which can be found in his Voyages. Dampier was trying to reach Cocos from New Holland. His ship was pulled off course in an easterly direction, arriving at Christmas Island twenty-eight days later. Dampier landed at the Dales (on the west coast). Two of his crewmen became the first Europeans to set foot on Christmas Island.
Daniel Beeckman made the next recorded visit, chronicled in his 1718 book, A Voyage to and from the Island of Borneo, in the East-Indies.