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Line Islands

The Line Islands, formerly the America Islands, are a group of islands in the central Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii, between the equator and 6°N, and about 160°W. They belong to the United States and the Republic of Kiribati.

They include Kiritimati, Tabuaeran[?], Palmyra Island[?], and their attendant islets. They are so named because they were frequented for their guano by traders from the United States. Christmas Island is probably the largest atoll in the Pacific (it is about 90 miles in circuit), and was discovered by Captain Cook in 1777. The islands were annexed by Great 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 when German naval forces landed at Fanning to cut the cable.

The total population of the islands in 1900 was about 300. Currently there are about 5,300 people on Kiritimati, 1,800 on Tabuaeran, and 2,000 on Teraina (formerly Washington Island) for a total of 9,100 on the Kiribatese portion. Malden, Starbuck Island[?], Flint Island[?], Vostok Island[?] and Caroline Island[?], which form the Southern Line Islands, are all uninhabited.

The American Islands in this group, Jarvis Island, Palmyra Island[?], and Kingman Reef are all uninhabited.

Guano and mother-of-pearl[?] shells are the principal articles of export.


Fanning Island Shoreline



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