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Wake Island

  • Also Known As: Wake Atoll

  • Vicinity: 3707 km (2303 mi) W of Honolulu and 2407 km (2496 mi) NE of Guam
  • Type: Atoll
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Historic District

Wake Island became a symbol of hope for Americans when its defense force repulsed Japanese attacks shortly after Pearl Harbor. When Japanese forces captured Wake later, in December 1941, this removed a threat to their line of defense from Tokyo to the Marshall Islands. The Landmark includes World War II-related resources on Peale, Wilkes, and Wake Islands, the three islands in the coral atoll that comprise Wake. - National Historic Landmark, NPS

Access to Wake Atoll is strictly regulated by the US government and unauthorized visits are prohibited. - AsNotedIn

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Wake Island


Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1941/12/08 Imperial Japan invades Wake Island Battle of Wake Island
1941/12/23 Imperial Japan captures Wake Island Battle of Wake Island
1945/09/04 Imperial Japan surenders Wake Island to American forces

Geography »


Wake Atoll is composed of three low coral islands: Wake, Peale and Wilkes. The 'Vee' shaped Wake island is larger than the other two combined. The total area of the atoll is 6.5 square kilometers (2.5 square miles).The three coral islands that make up the atoll were built up from deposits on the rim of a submerged volcano and the central lagoon is the former crater. - AsNotedIn

Wake is the northernmost atoll in the Marshall Islands geological ridge and perhaps the oldest living atoll in the world. - US Fish and Wildlife Service

Physiographic Data
Highest Point: unnamed location: 6 m
Lowest Point: Pacific Ocean: 0 m
Area: 7 sq km

Information »


Atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to the Northern Mariana Islands - The World Factbook

Data »

Particulars for Wake Island:
Historic Use Air facility
Physiographic feature Atoll
Historic Use Battle site
Owner Federal
Sight Category Historic District
Criteria Historic Event
Area of Significance Military
Level of Significance National
Historic Event World War II

Demonym: American
Motto: None
Population: 40

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration:

Registry Name:
Registry Address:
Registry Number: 85002726
Resource Type:
Owner: Federal
Architect: unknown
Architectural Style: No style listed
Other Certification: Designated National Landmark
Nominator Name: National Historic Landmark
Level of Significance: National
Area of Significance: Military
Applicable Criteria: Event
Criteria Consideration: Significance of less than fifty years
Period of Significance: 1925-1949
Significant Year: 1941, 1945
Historic Function: Defense
Historic Sub-Function: Air facility, Battle site
Current Function: Defense
Current Sub-Function: Air facility

History »


Used by early Marshall Island navigators, and later by a cable station and Pan American Airways, the atoll has been primarily used by the U.S. military since before World War II. During the war, it was overtaken by Japanese soldiers from 1941-1945. - US Fish and Wildlife Service

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. 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, and the island remains a vital strategic link in the Pacific region. - The World Factbook

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