Located almost in the centre of the vast Pacific Ocean is the island nation of Kiribati (pronounced: Kirri-bass), which is one of the least populated countries in the world. This quiet nation has very little land mass as most of the country consists of small islands, islets and atolls which stretch out over the tropical Pacific waters.
Within Kiribati are many small island groups, one of which is the Phoenix Islands, а group of eight atolls and two submerged coral reefs, which lie east of the Gilbert Islands and west of the Line Islands. These islands and the surrounding areas are home to some 120 species of coral and more than 500 species of fish. This region is considered to be so special that the government оf Kiribati has formally declared the entire Phoenix group and the surrounding waters а protected area, making the total Phoenix Islands inclusion area 410,500 square kilometres and the world’s largest marine protected area.
Of that, total land occupies just 28 square kilometres, the rest being water. The only island of any commercial or historical importance as Kanton Island. Other islands in the group include Enderbury, Rawaki, Manra, Birnie, McKean, Nikumaroro, аnd Orona.
Kanton is mostly just bare coral, which may explain why it is home to a human population of less than 30. Apart from the coral it is covered with herbs, bunch grasses, low shrubs аnd а few trees. However, its lagoon is extraordinarily abundant and teems with 153 known species of marine life, including sharks, tuna, stingrays аnd eels.
Nikumaroro has been in the news due to the fact that many people believed that Amelia Earhart might have crash-landed her plane on the island during her fateful around-the-world attempt in 1937. This theory looks to have been proved when a search team that has long been investigating Earhart’s last, fateful flight, released a grainy image of an “anomaly” resting at a depth of about 600 feet in the waters off Nikumaroro Island.
A number of artefacts that were recovered by the investigators during 10 expeditions have suggested that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, made a forced landing on the island’s smooth, flat coral reef.
It seems that the islands were not always unoccupied as there is evidence to suggest that several of the islands were sites of prehistoric settlement. Archaeological sites have been discovered on Manra аnd Orona, which suggest two distinct groups of settlers, one from eastern Polynesia, аnd one from Micronesia. The hard life on these isolated islands undoubtedly led to extinction of or dereliction by the settled peoples, in much the same way that other islands in the area were abandoned.