Kiritimati (UTC+14), part of Kiribati, is the first location in the world to welcome the New Year. Kiritimati or Christmas Island is a Pacific Ocean raised coral atoll in the northern Line Islands, and part of the Republic of Kiribati.
The island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world: about 322 square kilometres (124 sq mi); its lagoon is about the same size. The atoll is about 150 km (93 mi) in perimeter, while the lagoon shoreline extends for over 48 km (30 mi). Christmas Island comprises over 70% of the total land area of Kiribati, a country encompassing 33 Pacific atolls and islands.
Kiritimati Island (Christmas) is well known for its world class bone fishing. It also has excellent birdwatching and surfing opportunities. It lies 232 km (144 mi) north of the Equator, 6,700 km (4,200 mi) from Sydney, and 5,360 km (3,330 mi) from San Francisco. Christmas Island is in the world's farthest forward time zone, UTC+14, and Christmas Island is the first inhabited place on Earth to experience the New Year each year (see also Caroline Atoll, Kiribati). Despite being 1,530 miles (2,460 km) east of the 180 meridian, a 1995 realignment of the International Dateline by the Republic of Kiribati "moved" Christmas Island to west of the dateline.
At Western discovery, Christmas Island was uninhabited. As on other Line Islands there might have been a small or temporary native population, most probably Polynesian traders and settlers, who would have found the island a useful replenishing station on the long voyages from the Society Islands to Hawaii, perhaps as early as AD 400. This trade route was apparently used with some regularity by about AD 1000. From 1200 onwards Polynesian long-distance voyages became less frequent, and had there been human settlement on Christmas Island, it would have been abandoned in the early-mid second millennium AD. Two possible village sites and some stone structures of these early visitors have been located. Today, most inhabitants are Micronesians, and Gilbertese is the only language of any significance. English is generally understood, but little used outside the tourism sector.