Phoenix Islands

Travel Guide Oceania Micronesia Kiribati Phoenix Islands

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Introduction

The Phoenix Islands are a group of eight atolls and two submerged coral reefs, lying in the central Pacific Ocean east of the Gilbert Islands and west of the Line Islands. They are a part of the Republic of Kiribati. During the late 1930s they became the site of the last attempted colonial expansion of the British Empire through the Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area, established in 2008, is one of the world's largest protected areas, and home to some 120 species of coral and more than 500 species of fish.

The group is uninhabited except for a few families on Kanton. The United States unincorporated territories of Baker Island and Howland Island are often considered northerly outliers of the group, in the geographical sense. Howland and Baker are statistically grouped with the United States Minor Outlying Islands, however. The United States previously claimed all the Phoenix Islands under the Guano Islands Act. The Treaty of Tarawa released all American claims to the Phoenix Islands, excluding Baker and Howland.

At various times, the islands were considered part of the Gilbert group (once also known as "Kingsmill"). The name "Phoenix" for this group of islands seems to have been settled on in the 1840s, after an island of that name within the group. Phoenix Island was probably named after one of the many whaleships of that name plying these waters in the early 19th century.

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Geography

The Phoenix Islands are a group of eight islands, totalling 28 square kilometres in land area, located in the central Pacific, north of Samoa. The chain comprises a portion of Kiribati. The only island of any commercial or historical importance is Kanton (or Abariringa) Island. The other islands include Enderbury, Rawaki (formerly Phoenix), Manra (formerly Sydney), Birnie, McKean, Nikumaroro (formerly Gardner), and Orona (formerly Hull).

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Sights and Activities

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area is the world's largest Marine Protected Area. This isolated location has a vast array of undisturbed and pristine eco-systems. The coral reefs and bird populations are virtually untouched by man. The Phoenix Islands were awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2010. The area covers 410,500 square kilometres of the Central Pacific.

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Weather

The Phoenix Islands enjoy a pleasantly warm, but humid tropical climate. Daytime temperatures hoover around 30 °C year-round with little variation throughout the year. Nights are still pleasantly warm and generally above 20 °C. The wetter period lasts from December to May and concentrates more on the northern part of the island chain. Trade winds blow from March to October. The most pleasant time, weatherwise, is from May to September. Tropical storms can hit the islands during the wet season, but are rarely a reason not to visit the islands during this time, although the humidity and heath combined with the absence of tradewinds from December to March makes this a slightly less pleasant time to visit.

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Getting There and Around

The main island is this region is Kanton Island (Abariringa). While the island has the services of an airstrip and wharf this small number of people are government workers in caretaker mode.

The island is so isolated that it is seldom visited and this is limited to sailing yachts and charters. The government supply ship visits a number of times a year. Immigration is possible on the island for those arriving by sea.

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Eat/Drink

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This is version 2. Last edited at 7:27 on Jul 17, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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