[Country map of Howland Island]

Howland Island

(territory of the US)


Location: Oceania, island in the North Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia

Map references: Oceania

total area: 1.6 sq km
land area: 1.6 sq km
comparative area: about 2.7 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 6.4 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: equatorial; scant rainfall, constant wind, burning sun

Terrain: low-lying, nearly level, sandy, coral island surrounded by a narrow fringing reef; depressed central area

Natural resources: guano (deposits worked until late 1800s)

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 5%
other: 95%

Irrigated land: 0 sq km

current issues: no natural fresh water resources
natural hazards: the narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard
international agreements: NA

Note: almost totally covered with grasses, prostrate vines, and low-growing shrubs; small area of trees in the center; primarily a nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, and marine wildlife; feral cats


Population: uninhabited; note - American civilians evacuated in 1942 after Japanese air and naval attacks during World War II; occupied by US military during World War II, but abandoned after the war; public entry is by special-use permit only and generally restricted to scientists and educators


conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Howland Island

Digraph: HQ

Type: unincorporated territory of the US administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the US Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System

Capital: none; administered from Washington, DC


Overview: no economic activity


Ports: none; offshore anchorage only; note - there is one boat landing area along the middle of the west coast

Airports: airstrip constructed in 1937 for scheduled refueling stop on the round-the-world flight of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan - they left Lae, New Guinea, for Howland Island, but were never seen again; the airstrip is no longer serviceable

Note: Earhart Light is a day beacon near the middle of the west coast that was partially destroyed during World War II, but has since been rebuilt in memory of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US; visited annually by the US Coast Guard