A Map of Midway Islands

Midway Islands

Background: The US took formal possession of the islands in 1867. The laying of the trans-Pacific cable, which passed through the islands, brought the first residents in 1903. Between 1935 and 1947, Midway was used as a refueling stop for trans-Pacific flights. The US naval victory over a Japanese fleet off Midway in 1942 was one of the turning points of World War II. The islands continued to serve as a naval station until closed in 1993. Today the islands are a national wildlife refuge. From 1996 to 2001 the refuge was open to the public. It is now temporarily closed.
Location: Oceania, atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, about one-third of the way from Honolulu to Tokyo Area: Total: 6.2 sq km. Note: includes Eastern Island, Sand Island, and Spit Island. Area - comparative: About nine times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC. Coastline: 15 km. Maritime claims: Exclusive economic zone: 200 NM, territorial sea: 12 NM.
Climate and Terrain: Climate: Subtropical, but moderated by prevailing easterly winds. Terrain: Low, nearly level. Elevation extremes: Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m, highest point: unnamed location 13 m. Natural resources: Wildlife, terrestrial and aquatic. Land use: Arable land: 0%. Geography - note: A coral atoll managed as a national wildlife refuge and open to the public for wildlife-related recreation in the form of wildlife observation and photography, sport fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving; the refuge is temporarily closed for reorganization at present.

People: Population: No indigenous inhabitants; approximately 40 people make up the staff of US Fish and Wildlife Service and their services cooperator living at the atoll.
Government: Dependency status: Unincorporated territory of the US The jurisdiction and control of the atoll was transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge system.
Economy overview: The economy is based on providing support services for the national wildlife refuge activities located on the islands. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Statistics: Ports and harbors: Sand Island Airports - with paved runways: 2.

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