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Fanning Island

coral formation of the Northern Line Islands, part of Kiribati, in the west-central Pacific Ocean. Discovered in 1798 by an American trader and explorer, Edmund Fanning, the atoll is composed of several islets that surround a lagoon 32 miles (51 km) in circumference. It was annexed in 1888 by Britain as the site for a transpacific cable-relay station, which was in service until a new cable was installed in 1963. For the first half of the 20th century, the atoll was owned by a copra-processing company; it is still heavily planted with coconuts. The island served as a district headquarters of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony from 1916 to 1952, when they were moved to Christmas (now Kiritimati) Atoll. The name was changed from Fanning to Tabuaeran Atoll when it became part of independent Kiribati in 1979. Copra and seaweed are produced for export. The atoll has become a port of call for yachts and cruise ships sailing from Hawaii. Total land area 13 square miles (34 square km). Pop. (2005 prelim.) 2,539.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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