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Two Carolines: Island and Islands

Millennium Island, Kiribati
From NASA: Caroline Island

The Pacific
The Pacific Ocean houses Caroline Island, an uninhabited atoll.  It is also home to the Caroline Islands, which are series of islands below the Philippines.

Shared Names, But Not Really
The Caroline Islands were named after Spain's King Charles II - the last Hapsburg ruler of Spain and whose death sparked the War of Spanish Succession.  Caroline Island is named after the daughter of Sir Philip Stephens, Lord Commissioner of the British Admiralty.  (The great British explorer James Cook named New Zealand's Stephens Island after him.)

New Millennium, New Name
Caroline Island has other names and although Caroline is still seen on many maps, the Kiribati government officially changed the island's name to Millennium Island in 1997.  The government changed the island's name to correspond with a new position on the map.  Of course the island didn't move, but instead the government moved the International Date Line 2,000 miles east in order for all of Kiribati to be on the same time zone.  This also meant Kiribati would be first nation to see the sunrise at the beginning of the new millennium and all other years.


Changing Hands 
While Caroline Island has remained relatively untouched, the Caroline Islands have an extensive history of changing hands. Many of the islands were inhabited by the time of European exploration. The Portuguese were the first to spot and stay on some of the islands, but the Spanish were the first to actually claim and colonize the islands.  Due to the lack of development and the murder of a priest, Spain abandoned the islands; allowing Britain and Germany to claim parts of the territory.  After an agreement that granted Spain most of the territory, Spain sold some of the islands to Germany the Spanish-American War. Germany in turn lost the islands to Japan during WWI.  Japan's defeat in WWII led to the islands being turned over to the United States.  Finally, in the late 1900's most of the islands were granted independence, becoming the Federated States of Micronesia (1986) and Palau (1994).

Thanks for reading!

For more on islands, check out our article on the South Sandwich Islands and learn why there are no North Sandwich Islands.

You can also read our article on the new U.S. policy in Cuba.


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