Wake Island, atoll with three islets (Wake, Wilkes, and Peale), 3 sq mi (7.8 sq km), central Pacific, between Hawaii and Guam. It is a U.S. military base and scientific research center under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of the Interior and the U.S. Air Force. There is no indigenous population. Wake Island was discovered by the Spanish in 1568, visited by the British in 1796 and named after Capt. William Wake, and annexed by the United States in 1898. The island became (1935) a commercial air station on the route to Asia and later served as a U.S. military base. In Dec., 1941, Wake Island was seized by the Japanese. U.S. forces bombed the island from 1942 until Japan's surrender in 1945. The atoll is also claimed by the Marshall Islands. Since 2009 it has been part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pacific Islands Political Geography