Wake Island is an atoll of three low coral islands, Peale, Wake, and Wilkes, built up on an underwater volcano in the North Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to the Northern Mariana Islands.
The central lagoon is former crater, while islands are part of the rim of the volcano.
Wake Island is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the US; administered from Washington, DC by the Department of the Interior. Activities in the atoll are currently conducted by the US Air Force.
It is suceptible to occasional typhoons.
The US annexed Wake Island in 1899 for a cable station.
An important air and naval base was constructed in 1940-41.
In December 1941, the island was captured by the Japanese and held until the end of World War II.
In subsequent years, Wake was developed as a stopover and refueling site for military and commercial aircraft transiting the Pacific.
Since 1974, the island's airstrip has been used by the US military, as well as for emergency landings for transpacific flights.
Operations on the island were suspended and all personnel evacuated in 2006 with the approach of super typhoon IOKE (category 5), but resultant damage was comparatively minor. A US Air Force repair team restored full capability to the airfield and facilities, which remains a vital strategic link in the Pacific region.
There are no indigenous inhabitants but approximately 150 military personnel and civilian contractors maintain and operate the airfield and communications facilities (2009)
Economic activity is limited to providing services to military personnel and contractors located on the island. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Wake Island is claimed by the Marshall Islands.
Location: Oceania, atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to the Northern Mariana Islands
Geographic Coordinates: 19 17 N, 166 39 E
Area: 6.5 sq km
Coastline: 19.3 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Natural Hazards: occasional typhoons.
Terrain: atoll of three low coral islands, Peale, Wake, and Wilkes, built up on an underwater volcano; central lagoon is former crater, islands are part of the rim. The highest point is unnamed location (6 m).
Legal System: US common law