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Central America :: Navassa Island Print
Page last updated on August 25, 2020
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  • Introduction :: Navassa Island
  • Background field listing
    This uninhabited island was claimed by the US in 1857 for its guano. Mining took place between 1865 and 1898. The lighthouse, built in 1917, was shut down in 1996 and administration of Navassa Island transferred from the US Coast Guard to the Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs. A 1998 scientific expedition to the island described it as a "unique preserve of Caribbean biodiversity." The following year it became a National Wildlife Refuge and annual scientific expeditions have continued.
  • Geography :: Navassa Island
  • Location field listing
    Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, 30 nm west of Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    18 25 N, 75 02 W
    Map references field listing
    Central America and the Caribbean
    Area field listing
    total: 5.4 sq km
    land: 5.4 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 249
    Area - comparative field listing
    about nine times the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    0 km
    Coastline field listing
    8 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    Climate field listing
    marine, tropical
    Terrain field listing
    raised flat to undulating coral and limestone plateau; ringed by vertical white cliffs (9 to 15 m high)
    Elevation field listing
    lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
    highest point: 200 m NNW of lighthouse 85 m
    Natural resources field listing
    guano (mining discontinued in 1898)
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 0% (2011 est.)
    forest: 0% (2011 est.)
    other: 100% (2011 est.)
    Natural hazards field listing
    Environment - current issues field listing
    some coral bleaching
    Geography - note field listing
    strategic location 160 km south of the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; mostly exposed rock with numerous solution holes (limestone sinkholes) but with enough grassland to support goat herds; dense stands of fig trees, scattered cactus
  • People and Society :: Navassa Island
  • Population field listing
    uninhabited; transient Haitian fishermen and others camp on the island
    Education expenditures field listing
  • Government :: Navassa Island
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Navassa Island
    etymology: the flat island was named "Navaza" by some of Christopher COLUMBUS' sailors in 1504; the name derives from the Spanish term "nava" meaning "flat land, plain, or field"
    Dependency status field listing
    unorganized, unincorporated territory of the US; administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior from the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Boqueron, Puerto Rico; in September 1996, the Coast Guard ceased operations and maintenance of the Navassa Island Light, a 46-meter-tall lighthouse on the southern side of the island; Haiti has claimed the island since the 19th century
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    none (territory of the US)
    Flag description field listing
    the flag of the US is used
  • Economy :: Navassa Island
  • Economy - overview field listing
    Subsistence fishing and commercial trawling occur within refuge waters.
  • Military and Security :: Navassa Island
  • Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of the US
  • Transportation :: Navassa Island
  • Ports and terminals field listing
    none; offshore anchorage only
  • Transnational Issues :: Navassa Island
  • Disputes - international field listing

    claimed by Haiti, source of subsistence fishing