Christmas Island

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The Territory of Christmas Island is a territory of Australia located in the Indian Ocean, north-west of Australia and south of Indonesia. It should not be confused with the Pacific island of Kiritimati, which is also called Christmas Island.

During 2001, Christmas Island received a large number of refugees coming by boat, most of them from the Middle East. One of these boats resulted in a diplomatic standoff between Australia, Norway and Indonesia, which resulted in the asylum seekers being instead transported to the small country of Nauru for processing. See MS Tampa for more information. Another boatload of illegal immigrants was taken from Christmas Island to Papua New Guinea for processing, after many of the adult refugees threw their children into the water, apparently in protest of being turned away.

John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, has passed legislation through the Australian Parliament which excludes Chrismas Island from Australia's Immigration Zone, meaning that refugees arriving at Chrismas Island can not automatically apply for refugee status, allowing the Australian navy to turn back boatloads of illegal immigrants.

The capital is The Settlement.

From the CIA World Factbook 2000. Not Wikified.