Caroline atoll

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Caroline atoll
Satellite image of the Caroline Atoll
Satellite image of the Caroline Atoll
Waters Pacific Ocean
archipelago Line Islands
Geographical location 9 ° 56 ′  S , 150 ° 13 ′  W Coordinates: 9 ° 56 ′  S , 150 ° 13 ′  W
Map of Caroline Atoll
Number of islands 39
Main island South Islet ( Rimapoto )
Land area 3.76 km²
Lagoon area 6.3 km²
total area 24 km²
Residents uninhabited
Template: Infobox Atoll / Maintenance / HoeheFehlt

The Caroline Atoll is an uninhabited coral atoll in the central Pacific Ocean that belongs to Kiribati . It consists of the three main islands of Nake Islet ( coordinates 9 ° 54 '27 "S, 150 ° 13' 10" W), Long Islet (9 ° 56 '07 "S, 150 ° 12' 44" W) and South Islet ( 10 ° 00 '00 "S, 150 ° 14' 39" W). Although the atoll is made up of several islands, it is often referred to as Caroline Island . The atoll is included in the group of the southern Line Islands .

Due to the celebrations for the Millennium in 2000, the atoll was renamed and now officially bears the name Millennium Island ( Millennium Island ). It is 1107 km south of the equator , and 849 km north and a little west of Papeete , Tahiti . It is around 230 km away from the nearest islands of Flint and Vostok in the west.

Other names in the past were Hirst Island , Clark Island and Independence Island .


The Caroline Atoll is a slightly sickle-shaped atoll with a total area of ​​24 km², which consists of a coral reef that surrounds a narrow lagoon . The atoll includes about 39 small islands ( motus ) of various sizes, the total area of ​​which is 3.76 km². In 1965, when the tide was low, only 15 separate islands were distinguished from one another by water arms, and based on bare, dry coral limestone it was concluded that there were 25 islands earlier. The extension in north-south direction is 13 km, in east-west direction 2.5 km. The lagoon measures 8.7 by 1.2 km, with an area of ​​6.3 km². In general, the islands are only 4.5 to 6 m high; the highest point is 6 m above sea ​​level .

A canal separates Long Islet in the foreground from Nake Islet in the background

The atoll is bordered by somewhat larger islands in the north and south. The elongated island in the north is called Nake Islet . In the south the atoll is bounded by South Islet . Other islets close the atoll in the west ( Bird Islet ), in the northeast ( Long Islet ) and in the east ( Pig Islet , Brothers Islet and Arundel Islet ).

Like all atolls, the islands of the Caroline Atoll are made up of sand deposits and limestone cliffs . These come from the coral reef, which extends approximately 1.6 km from the shore. The reef does not dry out at low tide. On the Caroline Atoll there are no natural anchorages or deep passages from outside into the mostly shallow lagoon. Landings are therefore only possible with smaller, shallow boats at a point with a small reef breakthrough northwest of South Islet. At high tide it is possible to reach a beach within the reef by boat , at low tide you have to wade about 400 m through knee-deep water.

Freshwater resources ( aquifer ) are found at Nake Islet and South Islet. For temporary use there are two taps on South Islet and one on Nake Islet, otherwise you can dig for water at the relevant points.

List of island chains and individual islands

Island chain / single island Area
Coordinates location Number of
Nake Islet 91.7 ! 490.0880565349.795000509 ° 54 ′ 43.0 ″  S , 150 ° 12 ′ 18.0 ″  W. North 1
Long Islet (Millennium Island) 76.0 ... Northeast 1 1)
Southern Nake Islets 16.2 ... northwest 7th
Central Leeward Islets 47.9 ... west 11
Southern Leeward Islets 11.2 ... southwest 5
Windward Islets 51.36 ... east 13
South Islet (Rimapoto) 104.4 ... south 1
Caroline Atoll 398.76 2) ! 490.0630565349.786667509 ° 56 ′ 13.0 ″  S , 150 ° 12 ′ 48.0 ″  W.   39
1) originally a chain of five islands that grew together
2) Area in 1988, current area only 376 ha

List of islands

island Land
Coordinates group
Nake Islet 91.7 9 ° 54 ′ 43 ″  S , 150 ° 12 ′ 18 ″  W. -
Long Islet (Millennium Island) 76 ... -
Pandanus Islet 7.4 ... South Nake Islets
Danger Islet 2.7 ... South Nake Islets
Booby Islet 0.8 ... South Nake Islets
Coral Islet 1.7 ... South Nake Islets
Lone Palm Islet 2 ... South Nake Islets
Motu Kota ("Red-footed Booby Islet") 0.6 ... South Nake Islets
Motu Mouakena ("Masked Booby Islet") 1 ... South Nake Islets
Motu Mannikiba ("Seabird Islet") 21.5 ... Central Leeward Islets
Blackfin Islet 2.6 ... Central Leeward Islets
Motu Matawa ("White Tern Islet") 1.7 ... Central Leeward Islets
Emerald Islet 8.3 ... Central Leeward Islets
Shark Islet 8th ... Central Leeward Islets
Scarlet Crab Islet 0.5 ... Central Leeward Islets
Motu Nautonga ("Sea Cucumber Islet") 0.3 ... Central Leeward Islets
Azure Islet 0.2 ... Central Leeward Islets
Reef Flat Islet 0.1 ... Central Leeward Islets
Bird Islet 4.1 ... Central Leeward Islets
Fishball Islet 0.6 ... Central Leeward Islets
Motu Raurau ("Blue-Gray Noddy Islet") 3.5 ... Southern Leeward Islets
Motu Eitei ("Frigatebird Islet") 1.4 ... Southern Leeward Islets
Pisonia Islet 2.4 ... Southern Leeward Islets
Motu Kimoa ("Rat Islet") 1.8 ... Southern Leeward Islets
Motu Ana-Ana ("Anne's Islet") 2.1 ... Southern Leeward Islets
Bosun Bird Islet 0.9 ... Windward Islets
Windward Islet 11.4 ... Windward Islets
Crescent Islet 3.1 ... Windward Islets
Motu Atibu ("Coral Rubble Islet") 1) (0.02) ... Windward Islets
North Pig Islet 5.4 ... Windward Islets
Pig Islet 7.2 ... Windward Islets
Skull Islet 0.02 ... Windward Islets
North Brothers Islet 1.7 ... Windward Islets
Brothers Islet 4.3 ... Windward Islets
Noddy Rock 0.02 ... Windward Islets
North Arundel Islet 0.9 ... Windward Islets
Arundel Islet 7.3 ... Windward Islets
Tridacna Islet 9.1 ... Windward Islets
South Islet (Rimapoto) 104.4 ... -
Caroline Atoll 398.76 2) 9 ° 56 ′ 13 ″  S , 150 ° 12 ′ 48 ″  W. Caroline Atoll
1) Sunk in a storm in February 1990
2) Area in 1988, current area only 376.0 ha


The Caroline Atoll has a tropical climate with fairly even temperatures. There are sudden showers , mostly at night. Most of the year there is a southeasterly wind , but there are also winds from the east and north.

Flora and fauna

Tridacna clams in the lagoon, with South Islet in the background

Since the Caroline Atoll is considered the most original place of the Line Islands, consideration was given to declaring the atoll a World Heritage Site .

Most of the islands are overgrown with numerous coconut trees. In addition, there are remains of low forests. The following are named: screw trees ( pandanus ), heliotropes ( heliotropium ), morinda . Here and there there are said to be larger Calophyllum plants. Pig Islet has one of the largest populations of Pisonia trees ( Pisonia grandis ) in the Pacific.

The atoll is an important breeding area for migratory and seabird species. In particular, sooty terns ( Onychoprion fuscatus ) occur (a colony dominates the eastern islands) and the banded frigate bird ( Fregata minor ). The atoll is home to one of the largest populations of the palm thief ( Birgus latro ). Other animals worth mentioning are the green turtle ( Chelonia mydas ) and giant clams ( Tridacna , Tridacnidae ). The only mammal to be found is a reddish-brown rat ( Rattus norvegicus , unclear). Various species of fish and other marine animals live both on the reef and within the lagoon .


On February 4, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan is said to have passed the atoll he called Isla de los Tiburones (Island of the Sharks) while crossing the Pacific . On February 21, 1606, Pedro Fernández de Quirós reached the atoll and found no inhabitants, only an old canoe .

Remnant of a Polynesian site on Nake Islet

William Robert Broughton , captain of HMS Providence , named the atoll "Caroline Island". On December 16, 1795, he mentioned its thin settlement by Polynesians . Evidence of early Polynesian settlement was later found on Nake Islet and South Islet in the form of tombs, cross axes and remains of ritual sites.

In 1821, Caroline was again headed for by the English whaling ship Supply and named Thornton Island after its captain . After that, the atoll was visited by different ships at longer intervals. A detailed report was written by Frederick Debell Bennett , who visited Caroline in 1835, in 1840. This report was reprinted in 1935 in Paradise of the Pacific magazine . Coconuts were grown between 1865 and 1872. On July 9, 1868, the British flag was hoisted and the atoll was incorporated into the Empire . At that time, 27 people lived on the South Island. Their livelihood was poultry , pig breeding and fishing . Even coconut oil was recovered and salted fish. From 1872 the island was leased for guano mining . At that time ships docked with a buoy outside the reef. Numerous wrecks bear witness to this time.

In 1883 an expedition of American astronomers traveled from Callao , Peru to the Caroline Atoll on board the ship USS Hartford to observe a total solar eclipse on May 6, 1883. An expedition of the French State Navy also observed the darkness. A map was made by the French and various animals and other objects were collected.

Gradually the population decreased. In 1926 there were only ten inhabitants, in 1936 there were only two Polynesian families. At the end of the 1930s, the island was abandoned and has been uninhabited since then. It now belongs to the Republic of Kiribati and is still occasionally visited by copra collectors . In the 1990s, the Kiribati government signed a contract with a French Polynesian company that expressed plans to develop the atoll and built a small homestead.

Renaming and Millennium Celebration

New date line with the Caroline Atoll (highlighted) as the easternmost location in Kiribati

In 1994, the Republic of Kiribati announced a change in the time zone for the Kiritimati administrative district (Line Islands), which began using a zone time of UTC + 14 from 1995 . As a result, the international date line within Kiribati moved more than 1000 kilometers further east. All of Kiribati came to the Asian or western side of the date line with a uniform date. Caroline now has the same time as Hawaii and Tahiti , but is one day ahead of them in terms of date. Due to the great general interest in celebrating the arrival of the new millennium with the beginning of the year 2000, the Caroline Atoll was renamed Millennium Island . Teburoro Tito , the President of Kiribati, initiated a celebration on the island. This was carried out together with native residents of Kiribati and broadcast worldwide via satellite. The criticism that the reorganization of the times of Kiribati for the purpose of the Millennium Celebration and not that of the territorially uniform date was rejected by the Kiribati government.

Web links

Commons : Caroline Atoll  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Roger B. Clapp and Fred C. Sibley: Notes on the vascular flora and terrestrial vertebrates of Caroline Atoll Southern Line Islands, Atoll Research Bulletin No. 145, February 16, 1971 (PDF; 14.0 MB)
  2. Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastian Elcano sailed around the world, 1519–1522
  3. Magellan's "Unfortunate Islands" , accessed on May 15, 2019
  4. ^ Caroline Island ,
  5. a b Associated Press: 2000 greeted with song, dance , Japan Times . January 1, 2000. 
  6. Associated Press: Millennium Island greets Y2K warmly , December 30, 1999. Archived from the original on February 13, 2005 Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved June 11, 2006. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / 
  7. Pictures of the Millennium Celebration with President Teburoro Tito ,
  8. ^ "I was thinking of unifying the country, and three years ago I wasn't thinking of the millennium. Later I realized I had accidentally made a good decision. "( Teburoro Tito ) Quoted from Nicholas D. Kristof : Tiny Island's Date-Line Jog in Race for Millennium. In: New York Times. March 23, 1997, accessed October 1, 2009 .