E. Telegraph: Tonga moves its clocks forward for Y2K

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Friday 20 August 1999

Tonga clocks on for the great Millennium race By Barbie Dutter in Sydney THE race to be the first nation to enter the new Millennium intensified yesterday when Tonga announced an audacious scheme to put its clocks forward.

The island kingdom said it would introduce an hour of daylight-saving time between November and February, putting it 14 hours ahead of GMT and bolstering its claim to be the first inhabited land to welcome the 21st century. The announcement had long been expected in the light of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV's efforts to put Tonga at the forefront of the world's Millennium celebrations.

But it is unlikely to receive widespread recognition and will be unpopular among other Pacific islands hoping to boost their economies with Millennium tourism. Among the other front runners is the Republic of Kiribati, formerly known as the Gilbert Islands - a 2,000-mile archipelago cut in half by the International Date Line.

In 1995, Kiribati curved its section of the date line eastwards, so that all parts of the country would share the same date. This placed Kiribati's easternmost island, Caroline, 14 hours ahead of GMT - potentially enough to see the Millennium in first. The uninhabited atoll has been renamed Millennium Island with an ambitious programme of New Year celebrations.

Meanwhile Fiji argues that the date line has no legal standing and claims the 180 degree meridian line, which passes through it at three points, is the "real" date line. Pitt Island, one of the Chatham Islands east of New Zealand with a population of 58, is the current favourite in the race. It is gearing up for an invasion of visitors and media despite having no tourist beds.

The conflicting claims are made no clearer by the Royal Greenwich Observatory, which says time zones do not need the sanction of any outside authority. A spokesman said: "There seems to be no legal reason why any country cannot declare itself to be in whatever time zone it likes."

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), August 22, 1999


Old Git,

Very interesting posting. Still, I don't think I want to be on Tonga for the rollover. :-) Isn't this the place that Jim Lord said his server was located? Wonder if he plans to be there for the early months of Y2000. But hey, I keep hearing about all these utilities that have rolled their clocks into Y2000 already, so maybe I'm in the rollover right now, electric wise. :-(

-- Gordon (gpconnolly@aol.com), August 23, 1999.

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