Canton and Enderbury Islands
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The Canton and Enderbury Islands consist of the coral atolls of Canton (now Kanton) and Enderbury in the northeastern part of the Phoenix Islands, about 1,850 miles (3,000 km) south of Hawaii in the central Pacific Ocean. The islands were vital naval and air bases on the route between the Americas and the Philippines and Australia and were claimed by both the United Kingdom and the United States. From 1939 to 1979, they formed an Anglo–American condominium, with administration jointly exercised by the U.S. and the UK. This arrangement only covered Canton and Enderbury islands; the remaining Phoenix Islands, though still claimed by the U.S., remained under exclusive British control until 1979.
The United States and Great Britain relinquished control over the islands to the government of newly independent Kiribati under the Treaty of Tarawa in 1979, and the Canton and Enderbury Islands Condominium ceased to exist. Today the islands form part of the Phoenix Islands administrative group within the Republic of Kiribati (pronunciation: kiribas).
Canton Island is currently populated by 41 Kiribati citizens, relocated from the densely populated Gilbert Islands. Enderbury is uninhabited. In 2006, the government of Kiribati declared the islands, together with other Phoenix Islands, to be a marine protected area, to preserve the unique flora and fauna of the archipelago and its surrounding waters. It forms the largest such zone in the world.
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