The World Factbook (1990)/Wake Island

Wake Island (territory of the US)

See regional map X


Total area: 6.5 km²; land area: 6.5 km²

Comparative area: about 11 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 19.3 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: claimed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Climate: tropical

Terrain: atoll of three coral islands built up on an underwater volcano; central lagoon is former crater, islands are part of the rim; average elevation less than four meters

Natural resources: none

Land use: 0% arable land; 0% permanent crops; 0% meadows and pastures; 0% forest and woodland; 100% other

Environment: subject to occasional typhoons

Note: strategic location 3,700 km west of Honolulu in the North Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands; emergency landing location for transpacific flights


Population: 195 (January 1990); no indigenous inhabitants; temporary population consists of 11 US Air Force personnel, 27 US civilians, and 151 Thai contractors

Note: population peaked about 1970 with over 1,600 persons during the Vietnam conflict


Long-form name: none

Type: unincorporated territory of the US administered by the US Air Force (under an agreement with the US Department of Interior) since 24 June 1972

Flag: the US flag is used


Overview: Economic activity is limited to providing services to US military personnel and contractors located on the island. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.


Ports: none; because of the reefs, there are only two offshore anchorages for large ships

Airports: 1 with permanent-surface runways 2,987 m

Telecommunications: underwater cables to Guam and through Midway to Honolulu; AFRTS radio and television service provided by satellite; stations—1 AM, no FM, no TV

Note: formerly an important commercial aviation base, now used only by US military and some commercial cargo planes

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US