Kanton (kăntŏnˈ, kănˈtŏn) [key], coral atoll, 3.5 sq mi (9 sq km), central Pacific, largest of the Phoenix Islands, which comprise part of Kiribati, c.2,000 mi (3,220 km) SE of Honolulu, Hawaii. Annexed by the British at the end of the 19th cent., the island was also claimed by American guano companies. In 1937 the British built a radio station on Kanton, but in 1938 the United States formally claimed the island and placed it under the Dept. of the Interior. British and American colonists were brought to Kanton in 1938 but were evacuated during World War II. In 1939 both Great Britain and the United States agreed on joint control of Kanton and nearby Enderbury Island. In 1979, Kanton (then Canton), along with the remainder of the Phoenix Islands, became independent as part of the Republic of Kiribati. Kanton is also known as Abariringa.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.