General issues: Australian territory 1958-Present
Country name on general issues: Christmas Island
Currency: 1 (Malayan) Dollar = 100 Cents 1958-1966, 1 (Australian Dollar) = 100 Cents 1966-Present
Population: 3 000 in 1958, 2 000 in 2011
Political history Christmas Island
Christmas Island is located in the Indian Ocean – for the exact location, please refer to the map of the Modern Asia.Christmas Island is geographically part of Asia. However, because it is an Australian Territory, it is discussed as part of Oceania. Christmas Island was uninhabited until the late 19th century. The first Europeans to sight the island were British seafarers from the British East India Company in the 17th century. The island was first explored – again by the British – in the 19th century. When large phosphate deposits were reported, the island was annexed by Britain in 1888. Administratively, Christmas Island was made part of the British colony of the Straits Settlements in 1900. Phosphate mining started in the 1890’s – the workforce being brought from China and Malaysia.
In WWII, Christmas Island was occupied by the Japanese between 1942 and 1945. Subsequently, the island was under British military administration until 1946, when Christmas Island – together with the Cocos Islands – was attached to the colony of Singapore. In the advent of the independence of Singapore, Christmas Island was detached from Singapore as a separate British colony in 1958. Later the same year, Christmas Island was transferred to Australia. Since then, Christmas Island has been an Australian territory, that, since 1996, has been administered jointly with the Cocos Islands as the Australian Indian Ocean Territories. The flora and fauna on Christmas Island are exclusive, due to its isolated location and its having been uninhabited until the late 19th century. Thus, the island has many endemic species. Two thirds of the island was proclaimed a National Park in 1980.
Economically, phosphate mining was the single economic activity on Christmas Island until a tourist resort was opened in the 1990’s. The population, today, is 70% Chinese, 20% European and 10% Malaysian.
Postal history Christmas Island
The first post office was opened on Christmas island in 1901, using the stamps of the Straits Settlements. From the period of Japanese occupation no civil mail is known. After WWII the issues of the British Military Administration in Malaya were used until 1948, when they were superseded by the issues of Singapore. Since the transfer to Australia, in 1958, stamps have been issued specifically for Christmas Island – with the brief exception the period after the change of currency to the Australian dollar, when stamps of Australia were used between 1966 and 1968.
Between 1958 and 1993, Christmas Island had an independent stamp issuing policy. Since 1993, the stamps for Christmas Island are issued by Australia Post – also valid for use in Australia and its other territories and vice versa.In the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Cocos Islands since 1993 and on Norfolk Island since 2016. Until 1993, the issues of Christmas Island are a blend of themes of national interest and themes aimed at the thematic collectors market. Since 1993, the stamps issued are primarily issues for Christmas and the Chinese New Year with an additional small number of issues with commemorative and topical themes.