82 °F / 28 °C
Kanton Island (aka Canton Island, and Abariringa Island) is the largest of Kiribati's Phoenix Islands (South Pacific Ocean). The atoll is also the group's northernmost and the only inhabited island (population around 30).
- The island is located roughly halfway between Fiji and Hawaii (USA) and consists of a narrow land (total area 40 km2 / 15,4 ml2) enclosing a lagoon. Its closest neighbor is the Enderbury Island - at approx 63 km (39 ml) to the south. The Kiribati's capital city - South Tarawa (on the Tarawa Atoll) is at approx 1765 km (1097 ml) to the west.
- In 2006, Phoenix Islands were officially declared Protected Area. In 2008, the park was expanded to a protected marine reserve (the world's largest) with a total area (land and ocean) of 164,200 ml2 / 425,300 km2) consisting of 8 coral atolls (including Canton).
- Kanton Atoll was discovered by the Europeans during a Spanish expedition in 1595. The earliest reported visits to the island were in August 1824 - by two British whaling ships. Then the atoll was named "Mary Ballcout's Island" - after the ship owner's wife.
- The atoll's current name was given in 1854, when the British whaling ship "Canton" ran aground there on March 4. The crew successfully escaped the sinking ship and after a 49-day sea voyage reached Tinian Island (Marianas).
- The pork chop shaped Kanton Atoll has length of 14,5 km (9 ml), width between 50–600 m (160–1970 ft) and highest elevation point (Pyramid Point, in the southeast part) 7 m (23 ft). The lagoon can be entered from the west side only. The lagoon is filled with over 150 different species of fish, including sharks, stingrays, tuna, eels.
- The atoll is served by the Canton Island Airport (located in the northwestern part).
- The lack of a freshwater source is a major issue. Rainwater is collected in cisterns, but rainfall is sparse.
- The airline Pan Am (Pan American Airways) arrived on Kanton Island on May 18, 1939. The company built here facilities for its planned New Zealand service, commenced in July 1940 with a Boeing 314 Clipper (long-range flying boat, produced between 1938-1941). The service was ended in December 1941 as the USA entered WW2 (1939-1945).
- During WW2, the US Navy built an airstrip (length 6230 ft / 1,9 km) ) which is now the Canton Island Airport. The atoll became a stopover for flights from USA to Australia and New Zealand and a staging point for attacks on the Japan-owned Gilbert Islands. In February 1942, SS President Taylor (cargo ship carrying American troops) was grounded here and abandoned. During the war, Kanton Island had approx 1200 troops, but was never attacked.
- The atoll is occasionally visited by marine vessels, including USCG ships, fishing boats and cruise ships.