United States Minor Outlying Islands

Un-incorporated territories of the USA

United States Minor Outlying Islands
United States Minor Outlying Islands
Local name:
United States Minor Outlying Islands
North Pacific and Caribbean
34 km²
the United States Minor Outlying Islands on the world map


The United States Minor Outlying Islands are a collection of island groups, reefs and atolls owned by the United States. They are not a geographically contiguous country, but are spread over 8 areas in the Pacific Ocean and another 3 in the Caribbean. In total, they include nearly 50 individual islands. The total size of all islands together is about 34 km², the pure land mass is about 30 km². Most of these islands are uninhabited. Only about 300 inhabitants were registered in total, most of them living on Wake Atoll. A large part of them also consists of changing research teams and rangers of the nature reserves.

The designation of "Minor Outlying Islands" is used only for statistical purposes and is otherwise rarely applied. In 1986, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) grouped these areas together. With the exception of Palmyra Atoll, all of these islands are unincorporated territories of the United States, each administering itself. Thus, there is no unified administration, yet the President of the United States is considered the head of state.

Division of the island groups

North Pacific:

Baker Island and Howland Island are uninhabited islands in the northern Pacific Ocean and part of the Phoenix Islands. Baker Island is about 1.5 km² in size, Howard Island with 1.6 km² only slightly larger.

Midway Atoll consists of 3 islands where about 40 people live permanently. Midway is geographically part of the Hawaiian Archipelago, but politically not part of the State of Hawaii.

Wake Island has no permanent residents. It is an atoll where only a US military base exists. Since the beginning of World War 2, the island has played an essential military role for the USA. Due to its location, Wake Island is considered one of the most remote islands in the world.

Jarvis Island is also known as Bunker Island and is located halfway between the Cook Islands and Hawaii. The island is not only uninhabited, but also undeveloped and devoid of vegetation. A simple sandy desert with no plants stretches over 4.5 square kilometers. Instead, the island is considered one of the largest breeding colonies for seabirds.

Johnston Atoll consists of 4 smaller islands and is also an uninhabited nature reserve. Previously, the atoll served for 70 years as a U.S. military base with an air and oil port for ship refueling.

Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll are located about 60 km apart and are part of the Line Islands. Except for a varying number of conservationists and researchers, both are uninhabited. The combined pure land area is only 3.9 km².


Navassa Island is located in the Greater Antilles between Cuba and Jamaica near Haiti. The island is claimed by both the U.S. and Haiti, as it lies on the Haitian island shelf. Navassa was annexed by the U.S. in 1857, but is now an uninhabited nature reserve.

Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank also lie in the Caribbean Sea and are the smallest areas of the Minor Outlying Islands, each with a land area of 0.02 km². The Bajo Nuevo Bank is also known as Petrel Island. Serranilla Bank consists of 3 individual islands and 2 rock formations that form an atoll that is almost submerged today. The coral reef covers a sea area of over 1200 km². All islands are uninhabited, the only structure is a lighthouse on Beacon Cay.

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