1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/America Islands
AMERICA ISLANDS, a name given to Christmas, Fanning, Palmyra and attendant islets, belonging to Great Britain, in the Central Pacific Ocean, between the equator and 6º N., and about 160º W. They are so named because frequented for their guano by traders from the United States. Christmas Island is probably the largest atoll in the Pacific (it is about 90 m. in circuit), and was discovered by Captain Cook in 1777. The islands were annexed by Great Britain in 1888 in view of the laying of the Pacific cable, of which Fanning Island is a station. Guano and mother-of-pearl shells are the principal articles of export; the population of the islands is about 300.