Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Welcome New Year

December 31, 2019 Updated: December 31, 2019
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The Line Islands of the Pacific Ocean were the first place in the world to mark the start of 2020, which was followed by Tonga, Samoa, and Kiribati-Christmas Island.

Then it was Auckland, New Zealand, that marked the end of 2019. In Australia, Sydney was given permission to carry out its fireworks display despite a total fire ban that was prompted by large deadly wildfires across the country. And other Australian cities, including Canberra, canceled their celebrations due to the risk.

The last place to welcome the New Year will be Baker Island and Howland Island, which are two unoccupied U.S. islands in the Pacific. The last occupied place to celebrate the new year will be American Samoa, which is also located in the Pacific.

But on Jan. 1 in Australia, More than a million people descended on a hazy Sydney Harbour and surrounding areas ahead of the ringing in of the new year.

New Zealand’s major cities greeted the new year with traditional fireworks. In Auckland, half a ton of fireworks burst from the Sky Tower above the city center, according to The Associated Press.

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The 9 p.m. family fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge on Sydney Harbour during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. (Dean Lewins/AAP Image via AP)

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. More than 81 people, mostly children, died from measles in the previous year.

“We have experienced extreme sadness and sorrow,” the Samoa Observer newspaper said. “Since the first measles death, the pain has only deepened. But amidst much hopelessness and tears, we have also seen the best of mankind in this country’s response.”

According to Reuters, some areas will see mass protests instead of celebrations.

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Crowds watch a fireworks display during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Brisbane, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. (Dan Peled/AAP Image via AP)

Hong Kong’s government canceled its popular New Year’s Eve fireworks display at its famed Victoria Harbour over security concerns as protesters staged more rallies against the Chinese Communist Party, Reuters reported.

“My new year wish is this movement can end soon but not because we lost the fight, because we win the fight,” said 40-year-old clerk Kong in the report.

Thousands in India are also planning to protest during the new year amid a new citizenship law, the report said.