Pacific Islands: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the various Pacific Islands, information, history size, location, population, people, culture, and government.

Pacific Islands, Miscellaneous

Under British control:

Line Islands, straddling the equator about 1,400 mi. from Hawaii. These islands are uninhabited except for Christmas Island. Between 1958 and 1962 the U.S. and Britain detonated a number of nuclear bombs at Christmas Island.

Phoenix Islands, a series of tiny uninhabited coral atolls about 2,000 mi. south of Honolulu. Two of them, Canton and Enderbury are jointly administered by the U.S. and Britain.

Under Chilean control:

Easter Island, located 2,300 mi. off the coast of Chile, is the easternmost island in Polynesia. It is the site of the famous "Moai" statues.

Under Japanese control:

Bonin (includes Chichi-shima), Volcano (includes Iwo Jima), and Marcus islands. Settled by American sailors in the 19th century but colonized by the Japanese in 1875, the Bonins are inhabited by Westernized families with names like Savory and Washington, and by Japanese families. Occupied by the U.S. at the end of W.W. II, the islands were returned to Japan in 1968. They are administered by the Prefecture of Tokyo.

Under New Zealand control:

Tokelau Islands, located northeast of the Samoas. There are about 1,600 people living in 4 main island groups.

Niue Island, located just east of Tonga. There are about 5,500 inhabitants.

Under U.S. control:

The U.S. is colonial landlord of over 2,300 islands in the Pacific, excluding Hawaii. These islands form a series of stepping-stones that span the entire Pacific to within 400 mi. of Indonesia and the Philippines. The major islands are Guam, Micronesia (officially known as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands), and American Samoa. There are also a number of other islands including:

Midway Islands, actually a western extension of Hawaii, are inhabited only by the U.S. Navy and gooney birds.

Wake Island, located 2,000 mi. west of Hawaii, is actually part of Micronesia but is now run by the Air Force. Until recently a major refueling stop for trans-Pacific flights, the island is now being used for a series of missile tests.

Johnston Island, located about 800 mi. from Honolulu, is an Air-Force-controlled depot for nerve gas and hydrogen bombs. It was formerly an H-bomb launching site and retains a capability for rapidly restarting atmospheric nuclear tests.

Canton and Enderbury islands in the Phoenix Island group are jointly administered with the British. Canton is a missile-tracking base for the Air Force.

Howland, Jarvis, and Baker islands, uninhabited since W.W. II, are located south of Honolulu.

Palmyra and Kingman Reef are the northernmost islands in the British-controlled Line Islands group. They are uninhabited even by the U.S. military.

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