Line Islands or Equatorial Islands, coral group, 43 sq mi (111 sq km), central and S Pacific. Once valuable for their guano deposits, the islands now have coconut groves, airfields, and meteorological stations. Of the 11 islands in the group, 8 comprise part of the Republic of Kiribati : Teraina , Tabuaeran , Kiritimati (formerly Washington, Fanning, and Christmas Islands), Malden, Starbuck, Caroline, Vostok, and Flint. Kingman Reef , Palmyra , and Jarvis Island are dependencies of the United States. The islands were uninhabited when discovered by American sailors in 1798, although a few show evidence of ancient Polynesian culture. The British government once conducted hydrogen bomb tests on Malden.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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