Wake Island


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 refuelling 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.


All operations on the island were suspended and all personnel evacuated in August 2006 with the approach of super typhoon IOKE (category 5), which struck the island with sustained winds of 250 kph and a 6 m storm surge inflicting major damage. A US Air Force assessment and repair team returned to the island in September and restored limited function to the airfield and facilities. The future status of activities on the island will be determined upon completion of the survey and assessment.


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
no indigenous inhabitants

note: approximately 150 military personnel and civilian contractors maintain and operate the airfield and communications facilities (2009)

Country name: conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Wake Island

Dependency status: 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
Telephone system: general assessment: satellite communications; 2 DSN circuits off the Overseas Telephone System (OTS)

domestic: NA

international: NA

Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 0, shortwave 0 (Armed Forces Radio/Television Service (AFRTS) radio service provided by satellite (2005)
Airports: 1 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2012)

Defence is the responsibility of the US; the US Air Force is responsible for overall administration and operation of the island; the launch support facility is administered by the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA)


Economy – overview: Economic activity is limited to providing services to military personnel and contractors located on the island. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Electricity – production: NA kWh

Transnational Issues:

Claimed by Marshall Islands.