In 1777, Captain James Cook discovered an island. He decided to call it Christmas Island because they found it on Christmas Eve and celebrated Christmas there. Captain Cook tells how several of his men went ashore and became lost. He couldn’t understand why the men did not look for the masts of the ship as the flat, small island would not have blocked the view.
Christmas Island went through a period of peace before the United States and Britain tried to claim it. They used the island for a stopping place and a nuclear testing site. Now a small population lives on the island, part of the independent Kiribati of the Pacific Islands.