Kiritimati Atlas Projects

Kiritimati (Christmas Island) is part of the Northern Line Islands in the Republic of Kiribati, a low-lying atoll struggling to deal with urbanization, development, and climate change. The physical structure of the atoll provides the population of Kiritimati with limited access to fresh water and increases the risk of water contamination, which exacerbates the island’s natural vulnerability to drought.  Subsistence fishing, in conjunction with significant population growth, is stressing fisheries and increasing reliance on imported food, which could have negative impacts for both the people and the environment.  The inherent isolation of the island suggests that Kiritimati does not have the potential to independently sustain itself.

Despite a lack of resources, the people of Kiritimati were incredibly generous to us.  At a local school, SEA students were treated to dancing and a feast, where local grilled fish and fruits were topped with Oreo cookies, and each of us was crowned with a garland of flowers.  Kiritimati will be long remembered for an impressive population of sea birds (currently threatened by rats and cats), fresh coconuts, shallow hyper-saline pools that glow pink, and an extraordinarily beautiful beach.