Tabuaeran, also known as Fanning Island or Fanning Atoll (both Gilbertese and English names are recognised) is one of the Line Islands of the central Pacific Ocean, and part of Kiribati. It is an atoll located at Coordinates: . The land area is 33.73 km2, and the population in 2010 was 1,960. The maximum elevation is about 3 m (10 ft) above high tide.
At some 900 miles distant, Tabuaeran is one of the closest landfalls to the Hawaiian Islands, and the atoll was possibly used as a stopover by the Polynesians who first settled Hawaiʻi. Artifacts have been discovered that indicate possible early settlements by people from Polynesia—probably the Cook Islands or Tonga.
Historically the first recorded mariner to sight Tahanea atoll was American captain Edmund Fanning of the American ship Betsy on June 11, 1798, and was named for him. At the time, the atoll was uninhabited, and like all of the Line Islands, has no truly native population. After Fanning, it was visited by whalers of several nationalities.
Prior to 1855, Captain Henry English and 150 laborers from Manihiki settled, and began producing coconut oil for export. He put the island under British protection, when it was visited by W.H. Morshead in HMS Dido on October 16, 1855.
Fanning was formally annexed to Great Britain by Captain William Wiseman of HMS Caroline on March 15, 1888. A deep opening was blasted, thereafter called the English Channel, on the west side of the atoll. Tabuaeran hosted a cable station on the Trans-Pacific Cable between Canada and Australia, a part of the All Red Line, beginning in 1902. Fanning Island Post Office opened on 29 November 1902. In September 1914 (World War I), the Cable Station was shelled by a German cruiser, the Nürnberg, and was slightly damaged. A landing force went ashore to complete the destruction. In 1939 the atoll was incorporated into the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, and later, in (1979), gained independence, becoming part of the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced kee-ree-bahs).
Tabuaeran features in John Updike's short story "The Blessed Man of Boston, My Grandmother's Thimble, and Fanning Island."
Tabuaeran had a population of 2,539 at the 2005 Census, principally Gilbertese settlers brought from Kiribati by Fanning Island Plantations, Ltd., to work in the copra industry (copra is the meat of the coconut). The capital is Napari (Paelau) in the northwest. The former capital is Napia (English Harbour) on the western side, south of a passage into the lagoon. Other villages are Tereitaki, in the northwest, Aontena, a resettlement area just south of Napia, and Manuku, a resettlement area in the south. At the 2010 Census the population had reduced to 1,960.
|4||Paelau (Napia, English Harbour)||250|
The island's major exports are copra and hand crafts (including cowrie shell, shark tooth knives, and Kiribati stamps). A supply ship from Australia calls two or three times a year, as does the Sailing Vessel Kwai
Tabuaeran was a weekly port of call for Norwegian Cruise Line, who had ships based in Honolulu. Due to federal regulations requiring foreign-flagged ships to call in a foreign port, the ships cruised to Tabuaeran. It was also more cost effective for the cruise line to visit a foreign country than to pay port charges as a consequence of the U.S. Passenger Services Act. In 2007, the Norwegian Wind left Norwegian's fleet, and they introduced 3 cruise ships specifically to cruise in Hawaiʻi. These three ships were all US-flagged ships, and thus were not required to visit foreign ports. The Pride of Hawaiʻi and Pride of America sailed 7-day sailings, and the Pride of Aloha took over the 10 and 11 day sailings which included Tabuaeran. In the fall of 2007, Norwegian announced that the Pride of Hawaiʻi would be reflagged and renamed the Norwegian Jade and sail in Europe.  Due to this change, Norwegian announced that the Pride of Aloha and the Pride of America would both sail 7-day cruises in Hawaiʻi, and eliminate cruises to Tabuaeran. In the late spring of '09, NCL decided to only have the Pride of America in Hawaii, and the Pride of Aloha was relocated. Fanning has been suffering since this decision by NCL. Starting in January 2010, the Holland America Cruise-ship Rotterdam, September 2011 Westerdam, April 2011 Volendam and January and February 2012 Seaborne Cruiseline sailings have been scheduling visits to Fanning and that is beginning to allow the island to regain some income and help from a visiting cruise-ship. Helpful organizations with concerns for the local schools, churches and healthcare needs are Pacific CARE Missions and Pacific Island Aid.
- Map of Tabuaeran
- Fanning Island on Jane Resture's Oceania Home Page A strong resource including geography, history, photos, and links.
- Ancient Polynesian remains
- Atoll Institute, proposed Field Station
- Edmund Fanning in Explorers of the Pacific by Buck (eText)