Photos of Clipperton Island



This isolated atoll was named for John CLIPPERTON, an English pirate who was rumored to have made it his hideout early in the 18th century. Annexed by France in 1855 and claimed by the US, it was seized by Mexico in 1897. Arbitration eventually awarded the island to France in 1931, which took possession in 1935.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Middle America, atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, 1,120 km southwest of Mexico

Geographic coordinates

10 17 N, 109 13 W

Map references

Political Map of the World


total: 6 sq km

land: 6 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 247

Area - comparative

about 12 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km


11.1 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; humid, average temperature 20-32 degrees Celsius, wet season (May to October)


coral atoll


lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: Rocher Clipperton 29 m

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 0% (2018 est.)

other: 100% (2018 est.)

Natural hazards

subject to tropical storms and hurricanes from May to October

Environment - current issues

no natural resources, guano deposits depleted; the ring-shaped atoll encloses a stagnant fresh-water lagoon

Geography - note

the atoll reef is approximately 12 km (7.5 mi) in circumference; an attempt to colonize the atoll in the early 20th century ended in disaster and was abandoned in 1917

People and Society




Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Clipperton Island

local long form: none

local short form: Ile Clipperton

former: sometimes referred to as Ile de la Passion or Atoll Clipperton

etymology: named after an 18th-century English pirate who supposedly used the island as a base

Dependency status

possession of France; administered directly by the Minister of Overseas France

Legal system

the laws of France apply

Flag description

the flag of France is used


Economic overview

Although 115 species of fish have been identified in the territorial waters of Clipperton Island, tuna fishing is the only economically viable species.


Ports and terminals

none; offshore anchorage only

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues