Midway Islands

Midway Islands
coral atoll & two islets at the end of the Hawaiian chain: administered by the U.S. Navy: 2 sq mi (5.2 sq km)

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Midway Islands

Introduction Midway Islands -
Background: The US took formal possession of the islands in 1867. The laying of the trans-Pacific cable, which passed through the islands, brought the first residents in 1903. Between 1935 and 1947, Midway was used as a refueling stop for trans-Pacific flights. The US naval victory over a Japanese fleet off Midway in 1942 was one of the turning points of World War II. The islands continued to serve as a naval station until closed in 1993. Today the islands are a national wildlife refuge. From 1996 to 2001 the refuge was open to the public. It is now temporarily closed. Geography Midway Islands
Location: Oceania, atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, about one-third of the way from Honolulu to Tokyo
Geographic coordinates: 28 13 N, 177 22 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 6.2 sq km note: includes Eastern Island, Sand Island, and Spit Island water: 0 sq km land: 6.2 sq km
Area - comparative: about nine times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 15 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: subtropical, but moderated by prevailing easterly winds
Terrain: low, nearly level
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: unnamed location 13 m
Natural resources: wildlife, terrestrial and aquatic
Land use: arable land: 0% permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: NA Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: a coral atoll managed as a national wildlife refuge and open to the public for wildlife-related recreation in the form of wildlife observation and photography, sport fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving; the refuge is temporarily closed for reorganization at present (2002) People Midway Islands -
Population: no indigenous inhabitants; approximately 40 people make up the staff of US Fish and Wildlife Service and their services cooperator living at the atoll (April 2002 est.)
Population growth rate: NA Government Midway Islands -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Midway Islands
Dependency status: unincorporated territory of the US; formerly administered from Washington, DC, by the US Navy, under Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific Division; this facility has been operationally closed since 10 September 1993; on 31 October 1996, through a presidential executive order, the jurisdiction and control of the atoll was transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge system
Legal system: the laws of the US, where applicable, apply
Flag description: the flag of the US is used Economy Midway Islands
Economy - overview: The economy is based on providing support services for the national wildlife refuge activities located on the islands. All food and manufactured goods must be imported. Transportation Midway Islands - Highways: total: NA km paved: NA km unpaved: NA km
Waterways: none
Pipelines: 7.8 km
Ports and harbors: Sand Island Airports: 3 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001) Military Midway Islands -
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US Transnational Issues Midway Islands - Disputes - international: none

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▪ United States territory, Pacific Ocean
      unincorporated territory of the United States in the central Pacific Ocean, 1,300 miles (2,100 km) northwest of Honolulu. The islands, near the western end of the Hawaiian archipelago, comprise a coral atoll with a circumference of 15 miles (24 km), enclosing two main islands, Eastern (Green) and Sand. Its total land area is 2.4 square miles (6.2 square km). The climate is subtropical, with cool and wet winters and warm and dry summers.

      Reported and claimed for the United States in 1859 by Captain N.C. Brooks, the atoll was first called Middlebrooks and then Brooks; the name Midway dates from the islands' formal annexation by the United States in 1867. In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt placed the islands under the control of the U.S. Navy (United States Navy, The). Also in 1903 the atoll became a link in the Hawaii-Guam segment of the first transpacific submarine cable, and a cable station was established on Sand Island. Transpacific aviation gave Midway new importance in 1935, when it was made a regular stop on the route from San Francisco to Manila. In 1940 the U.S. Navy began work on an air and submarine base there.

      During World War II the atoll became an important strategic objective for the Japanese. The Battle of Midway (Midway, Battle of)—fought northeast of the islands on June 3–6, 1942, and characterized mainly by the actions of carrier-based planes—marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific. After the war, Midway's importance as a commercial air base diminished rapidly, and regular stops there were eliminated in 1947. However, it remained a vital naval facility during both the Korean and Vietnam wars and was also a strategic outpost during the Cold War. The U.S. Navy began reducing its facilities on the islands in 1978, and all remaining military operations were shut down in 1993.

      In 1996 the islands were proclaimed Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge; formal transfer of jurisdiction took place in 1997. Indigenous plants include bunchgrass and beach morning glory, but much of the islands' vegetation is introduced, including such invasive species as ironwood (Casuarina equisetifolia). The abundant birdlife includes numerous nesting seabirds (e.g., albatross, shearwaters, and terns) and such introduced species as canaries and mynahs.

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Universalium. 2010.

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