Happy New Year to Samoa and Christmas Island in Kiribati – the first places in the world to enter 2020.
As it hit 10am in the UK, those in the South Pacific officially welcomed in the new decade. Kiritimati – or Christmas Island – and Samoa both lie immediately west of the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and have started the ball rolling for New Year’s revellers across the globe.
The Pacific island nation of Kiribati contains 3,200 coral atolls strewn across more than three million square miles, straddling the equator.
As the new year begins, Kiribati finds itself on the front line of the battle against climate change, facing drought and rising sea levels.
In 2020, a project funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Green Climate Fund and Kiribati’s government brings hope of providing safe and climate-secure drinking water to the main island of Tarawa, which is home to most of the nation’s 110,000 people.
In Samoa, New Year’s Eve was more somber than usual. While fireworks erupted at midnight from Mount Vaea, overlooking the capital, Apia, the end of the year was a time of sadness and remembrance.