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When the sun sets on the evening of December 31 this year, and the world awaits the arrival of the new year, a tiny island country on the extreme east will already have begun celebrations. Located just to the west of the International Date Line, the Republic of Kiribati is one of the first places on earth to see the first rays of the rising sun. Their time zone is 14 hours ahead of UTC - the farthest forward time zone in the world.

The Republic of Kiribati consist of 33 atolls and low coral islands in the central Pacific Ocean dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres of water. The nation comprises of three island groups - Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands, and Line Islands, the last of which are located as far as 30° east of the 180° longitude line. Geographically, Line Islands lie directly to the south of the U.S. islands of Hawaii, and should logically be in the same time zone. But this is not the case, because the International Date Line is not a straight line but zigzags around quite a bit and over the years has been shoved and shifted for various political and economic reasons.

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The Island of Kirimati, part of the Republic of Kiribati, is one of the few inhabited islands to experience the arrival of the new year before anybody else. Photo credit

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.


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