Australia - Oceania :: Howland Island
  • Introduction :: Howland Island
  • Background:
    Discovered by the US early in the 19th century, the island was officially claimed by the US in 1857. Both US and British companies mined for guano until about 1890. Earhart Light, a day beacon near the middle of the west coast, was partially destroyed during World War II, but subsequently rebuilt; it is named in memory of the famed aviatrix Amelia EARHART. The island is administered by the US Department of the Interior as a National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Geography :: Howland Island
  • Location:
    Oceania, island in the North Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and Australia
    Geographic coordinates:
    0 48 N, 176 38 W
    Map references:
    total: 2 sq km
    land: 1.6 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 256
    Area - comparative:
    about three times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC
    Land boundaries:
    0 km
    6.4 km
    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    equatorial; scant rainfall, constant wind, burning sun
    low-lying, nearly level, sandy, coral island surrounded by a narrow fringing reef; depressed central area
    Natural resources:
    guano (deposits worked until late 1800s), terrestrial and aquatic wildlife
    Natural hazards:
    the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard
    Environment - current issues:
    no natural fresh water resources
    Geography - note:
    almost totally covered with grasses, prostrate vines, and low-growing shrubs; small area of trees in the center; primarily a nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, and marine wildlife
  • People and Society :: Howland Island
  • Population:

    note: American civilians evacuated in 1942 after Japanese air and naval attacks during World War II; occupied by US military during World War II but abandoned after the war; public entry is by special-use permit from US Fish and Wildlife Service only and generally restricted to scientists and educators; visited annually by US Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Government :: Howland Island
  • Country name:
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Howland Island
    etymology: named after the lookout on a whaling vessel who spotted the island in 1842
    Dependency status:
    unincorporated territory of the US; administered from Washington, DC, by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System
    Flag description:
    the flag of the US is used
  • Transportation :: Howland Island
  • Ports and terminals:
    none; offshore anchorage only; note - there is one small boat landing area along the middle of the west coast
    Transportation - note:
    Earhart Light, a day beacon near the middle of the west coast, was partially destroyed during World War II but rebuilt during the 1960s; today it is crumbling and in poor repair; named in memory of famed aviatrix Amelia EARHART
  • Military and Security :: Howland Island
  • Military - note:
    defense is the responsibility of the US; visited annually by the US Coast Guard (2019)
  • Transnational Issues :: Howland Island
  • Disputes - international: