Planning on ringing the New Year in with a bang? Fantastic! Depending on where you live, several million (perhaps billions) people may have rang that New Year in hours before you. Many of them could now be nursing a hangover. But, what part of the world celebrates New Year first?
The island of Kiritimati (sometimes called Christmas Island) is the first populated location on the planet to celebrate New Year. It celebrates it a full 14 hours ahead of the United Kingdom, and a whopping 19 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone in the United States.
Let’s tell you a little bit more about Kiritimati and some of the other places that celebrate the New Year shortly after.
What Part of the World Has The Earliest Time Zone In Order To Celebrate New Year First?
The UTC+14 time zone is the first time zone on the planet to ring in the New Year.
There are not that many places in this time zone. Most of what is in the region is completely uninhabited. The one exception to this is Kiritimati. This is the most eastern point from the UTC+0 (which starts in the UK). After that, the time zones change drastically.
Technically, Kiritimati isn’t the first island to ring in the New Year. That honor goes to Caroline Atoll. Although, since Caroline Atoll is uninhabited, there is nobody there to celebrate the New Year.
What Is Kiritimati?
Kiritimati is an atoll (essentially an island) that is part of the Republic of Kiribati. This is a nation formed of 33 different islands, with Kiritimati being the largest of them. In fact, Kiritimati is about 70% of all the landmass in the Republic of Kiribati but is home to just 5% (roughly) of the country’s population.
Kiritimati sits in the Pacific Ocean. It has a population of about 7,000. The vast majority of the population are Micronesians, and the island’s official language is Gilbertese. However, because the island used to be part of the British Empire, many of the population can also speak English.
Kiritimati is, mostly, uninhabitable. Shortly after World War II, the location was selected by the United Kingdom for nuclear weapon testing because it is so far out of the way. Even now, you will find that a rather sizable chunk of the population of Kiritimati will be from the UK (the military).
You may sometimes see Kiritimati referred to as ‘Christmas Island’ by English-speaking nations. In fact, Kiritimati is literally just a translation of ‘Christmas’.
Do Other Countries Exist in UTC+14?
The only populated place in UTC+14 is Kiritimati. Even then, Kiritimati did not join the time zone until 1994 (it didn’t exist before then), There were several reasons why the new time zone was created. However, the local government really thought that having Kiritimati as the first place to hit the New Year would be a tourist draw…and it is. Kiritimati gets a ton of tourists every single year, eager to be the first people in the world to ring in the New Year.
In theory, Kiritimati created the UTC+14 for itself. This is because the island was having difficulty doing business with certain areas (as nobody was at work when they were).
Both Tonga and select parts of Russia have been in UTC+14 at some point, although they no longer are. In fact, Tonga is an interesting case. This is because there was a brief period when they celebrated the New Year at the same time as Kiritimati. From 1999 to 2002 and 2016 to 2017, Tonga was operating on DST, which pushed its time zone up to UTC+14. It is unlikely that they will ever switch back to DST.
It is likely that Kiritimati will remain in the UTC+14 time zone for the foreseeable future and, thus, will be the very first populated place in the world to celebrate the New Year. After all, it has only just recently joined the time zone.
Which Countries Celebrate New Year Next?
Kiritimati has a good one hour before other populated places start to ring in the New Year.
The next places to hit midnight are Tonga and Samoa. Small parts of New Zealand will be celebrating the New Year at the same time.
An hour after this, the eastern part of Russia will celebrate New Year, as will parts of Fiji.
Once this is done, the more populated parts of the world will experience the New Year in rapid succession. Of course, by that time, the party-goers in Kiritimati will be long tucked up in their beds, hopefully waiting to get started on their New Year resolutions.
What Is The Last Place On Earth To Celebrate New Year?
To give you an idea of how crazy time zones can be, let’s talk about the last place on the planet to ring in the New Year; American Samoa.
American Samoa is in the UTC-11 time zone. It is just 760 miles from Kiritimati. A pretty quick journey, taking just 1.5 hours if you decided to fly there.
However, due to time zones, American Samoa celebrates New Year almost a full day after the people of Kiritimati have wrapped up their celebrations.
Technically, you could celebrate New Year in Kiritimati, hop on a plane for a little over an hour, wait a day, and then celebrate another New Year in American Samoa. We are sure that there are plenty of people that do this!
The island of Kiritimati is the first place on the planet to celebrate New Year’s Eve. This is because it sits in the most eastern time zone (UTC+14), a time zone that it essentially created for itself back in 1994.
Just a shop hop from Kiritimati is American Samoa. While it is just 750 miles away, it celebrates New Year almost an entire day after Kiritimati has done so.