Country of the World Pacific Islands Miscellaneous

About the various Pacific Islands, their location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Line Islands, between Hawaii and Tahiti, consist of three inhabited islands (Washington, Fanning, and Christmas) and several uninhabited islands. Fanning was settled by the British principally as a telegraph relay station between Canada and the Fijis.

The Phoenix islands are about midway between Hawaii and New Zealand. The U.S. and Britain both claim sovereignty over Canton and Enderbury islands, though the two governments have agreed to administer them jointly pending renegotiations scheduled for 1989.


Easter Island, 2,400 mi. west of Chile, so named by the Dutch navigator Jaakob Roggeveen when he reached the island on Easter Sunday, 1722. Long a mystery to anthropologists because of the variety of its residents (some very dark-complexioned, others fair), the presence of mysterious statues and hieroglyphics, and the absence of trees, Easter Island has been suspected of being the tip of a sunken continent.


The Bonin and Volcano islands are south of Tokyo. The Volcano Islands include Iwo Jima, where some 40,000 Japanese and American soldiers fell during W.W. II. Today the only shots heard are those from stray live ammunition occasionally broiled to combustion by the sun. Although the U.S. returned the island to Japan in 1968, Americans still retain landing rights and free access to two war memorials here.


Control of the Tokelau Islands, 300 mi. north of Samoa, was transferred from Great Britian to New Zealand in 1926. Because neither natural resources nor tourism is sufficient to support the 1,600 residents, most plan to accept the parent government's offer to resettle in New Zealand. Tokelau is administered from Wellington as an overseas territory.

Niue also an overseas territory of New Zealand, nevertheless is autonomous in all domestic matters. Situated about 250 mi. south of Samoa, it is home to 4,400.


The more than 2,300 Pacific islands administered by the U.S. include the 2,141 atolls and islands known as the Trust Territory of the Pacific, or Micronesia, Guam, the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, Midway, Wake, Johnston, Palmyra, Kingman Reef, Howland, Baker, Jarvis, Canton, and Enderbury, the latter two jointly administered with Great Britain. Midway, site of what has been called the key naval encounter of W.W. II, now is but a pitstop for the U.S. Pacific Fleet and a convenient meeting place for American presidents and Asian leaders. Wake Island, until recently a conduit for GIs bound for the battlegrounds of South Vietnam, still serves as a refueling stop for some jets flying between Honolulu and Asia.

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