Prior to 2000, Millennium Island was referred to as Caroline Island or Atoll. It was renamed to Millennium Island in 2000 as it has a unique feature - it is the first place on Earth that crosses the International Date Line each day. In 2000, it was the first to enter the new millenium, and at that time received its new name.
Millenium Island is a long and slender atoll that lies on the southernmost part of the Line Islands, which are located on the far eastern end of the Republic of Kiribati.
When referred to as Caroline Island or Atoll, it should not be confused with the Caroline Islands further west. The latter is an archipelago in the Federated States of Micronesia, and was a critical Japanese base in World War II.
Although it no longer supports human life, Millenium Island was once inhabited by native populations and Europeans. Evidence of their existence remains in wells, former home sites, assorted artifacts, and introduced flora that still inhabits the island. Past human activity is apparent on islets like the Windward Islet, which was cleared in 1920 and then replanted with coconut palms.
South Islet is another one of the islets on Millenium Island that was formerly home to a human population. It was also a popular stopping point for European expeditions. South Islet was an observation site for the 1883 eclipse expedition voyagers, and was once used for raising livestock.
Topography and Geology
Millenium Island contains 39 islets centered around a shallow lagoon. The islets are made of sand and limestone deposits. They formed over coral reefs that grew around an underwater volcanic peak. Some of the islets, which extend just several meters above sea level, may disappear when the water level rises. Their topography has been shaped by both natural elements and human activity, which explains the fragmented forests, non-native species, and rubble fields.
Environment and Wildlife
Millenium Island is teeming with diverse plant life, including shrubs, trees, and plants. The largest islets are home to groves of palm trees, and some of the largest islets have forests.
Millenium Island is also home to numerous animal species, including several types of tropical birds. The brown noddy, for instance, is a seabird that roosts primarily on Noddy Rock, which is one of Millenium Island's smallest islets. Coconut crabs and white terns have been found on South Islet, which is one of the largest islets on the atoll, and also one of its most picturesque. Bosun Bird Islet contains the largest population of red-tailed tropicbirds on the atoll. Aside from the birds, the only other life that Bosun Bird Islet supports are low-lying herbs.