Which Is The First Place To Experience New Year's Eve? – Worldatlas.com

Oceania’s small Pacific island nation of Kiribati celebrates New Year’s Eve before anyone else on Earth. It also experiences the first day of the new year on January 1 at 10 am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or 5 am EST (Eastern Standard Time). The Republic’s easternmost Line Islands ring in the new year first, followed by the central Phoenix Islands and the western Gilbert Islands, with an hour’s difference between each. 
Kiribati is a widely scattered island nation in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, covering 811 sq. km (313 sq mi) of land over 33 atolls and coral islands. Kiribati’s land surface is essentially just tips of undersea volcanoes, protruding for an average elevation of three meters and only a few feet above the water in some places. Most of the atolls are ring-shaped around lagoons and feature tropical scapes dominated by coconut palm trees and surrounded by extensive reefs. Kiribati is also the only island nation in the world that extends through all four hemispheres.
The chain straddles the edges of the Equator about halfway and borders the International Date Line (IDL) to the east. The International Date Line passes through the mid-Pacific Ocean at about 180 degrees longitude from north to south. The prime meridian line on the opposite side of the Earth is 0 degrees longitude, passing through Greenwich, England. The IDL is an important determinant because it splits two consecutive dates. 
Two locations relatively close to each other on the world map will have significant time differences if split by the IDL. A time zone shift in 1995 moved all of Kiribati’s three archipelagos to the west side of the IDL, setting an hour’s difference between each instead of one day. 
Kiritimati is the world’s largest coral atoll covering 384.4 square kilometers and accounting for 70% of the total land area of Kiribati. Kiritimati Atoll is part of the Northern Line Islands with the world’s farthest-forward time zone of UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) +14. It experiences New Year’s Eve before many others in Kiribati. Kiritimati is the Gilbertese spelling for Christmas, with the aptly-nicknamed “Christmas Island” also celebrating the birth of the Lord first. 
New Year’s Day is a public holiday in Kiribati with no school or work for the general population, and most businesses stay shut. A boisterous Christmas period leads up to New Year’s Eve with traditional singing and dancing throughout the holiday season. For Christmas, locals go to church, sing in the choir, gather at dinners with friends and family, and exchange gifts and merriment. They also like to get active during the holidays through sports with various competitions, games, and canoe racing, while others go camping in Taiwan Park and visit nearby islands.
Kiribati’s locals count down to the New Year across low-key beach parties, favorite bars, and some downtown squares. Guesthouses and expat bars hold the most-varied events, often with tourists in mind, as opposed to local bars, the local maneaba (meeting house), with more traditional celebrations. 
Christmas Island becomes a tourist destination during this time, with many wishing to celebrate New Year’s Eve first on Earth. Kiritimati is home to a tropical scape and climate, with temperatures ranging from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. Like locals, tourists also enjoy an eclectic choice of outdoor activities during the holidays, such as golf, scuba diving and snorkeling around the reefs, bird watching, and deep-sea fishing. 
During all other seasons, Kiribati is a destination for many tropical attractions. Kiritimati remains a famous atoll for the self-proclaimed title of Christmas Island (with another island existing under the official name). It is the largest in the Line group with a land area of 388 sq. km. embracing a similar-sized lagoon and ringed by coral reefs. There are also the Phoenix Islands, with the largest Protected Area on Earth of 408,250 square kilometers. 
Among other big festivals and celebrations, Kiribati’s biggest annual celebration takes place on July 12, Independence Day, in week-long festivities like parades, beauty pageants, and dancing that start prior to and climax on the official date in the capital of South Tarawa. There is also National Youth Day on August 10, when young adults have the floor to brainstorm solutions and voice innovative ideas regarding challenges the country faces in the imminent future.
It would be wrong not to mention the environmental crisis. Kiribati is among the world’s fastest sinking nations, with authorities alarmed about the sea-level rise. It will likely disappear within the next century and is already losing villages and facing coastal flooding, forcing people to relocate. The saline water floods also inundate the freshwater resources on the atolls, resulting in crop failure and a lack of water for basic needs, including drinking.
Although some think that the huge, coterminous “Land Down Under” gets the honor of experiencing New Year’s Eve first, while it is only 9 pm in Sydney, Australia, it is midnight (UTC+14) on New Year’s Day in Kiritimati, Kiribati. There are various cultural festivities before, during, and after the calendar turns page around the date. 
Sadly, Kiribati’s islands are sinking at unprecedented rates, and the whole nation is due to disappear under the rising sea by the end of the century. Thousands of islanders risk losing homes, parts of their vibrant culture, and, shamefully, the whole protected area and natural attraction of exploring the coral reefs.
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