Wake up

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Wake up
Aerial view of wake
Aerial view of wake
Waters Pacific Ocean
Geographical location 19 ° 18 ′  N , 166 ° 38 ′  E Coordinates: 19 ° 18 ′  N , 166 ° 38 ′  E
Map of Wake
Number of islands 3
Main island Wake Island
Land area 7.37 km²
Lagoon area 9.7 km²
total area 22 km²
Residents 150
Satellite image from Wake
Satellite image from Wake
Template: Infobox Atoll / Maintenance / HoeheFehlt

Wake [ ˈweɪk ] ( Marshallese Ānen Kio , translated "Island of the Kio Flower") is an atoll in the western Pacific Ocean , between Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands , north of the Marshall Islands . It is an outer territory of the United States and a so-called "non-incorporated territory," which means that it is not an integral part of the United States . For statistical purposes it is assigned to the United States Minor Outlying Islands . Wake has been part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument since 2009 .


Wake consists of three coral islands with a total of 7.37 km² of land, which have formed over an undersea volcano and enclose the shallow lagoon with an area of ​​about 9.7 km² in an approximately V-shape. The main island of Wake Island is in the southeast of the atoll, Peale Island in the north and Wilkes Island in the west. The total area of ​​the atoll including the reef rim is approximately 22 km².

Wake Island map.png
island Hectares
Wake Islet 553.22
Wilkes Islet 79.90
Peale Islet 103.94
Wake atoll 737.06
Lagoon (water) 970
Reef wreath 500


There are no indigenous people on Wake . On October 4, 1568 it was discovered by the Spaniard Álvaro de Mendaña y Neira and named Isla de San Francisco . In 1796 the British schooner Prince William Henry visited the atoll; it was then named after its captain, William Wake; Another early sighting is that of 1812 by the crew of the American ship Halcyon .

On March 5, 1866, the Bremer Bark Libelle ran into the eastern reef of the atoll on its journey from San Francisco to Hong Kong . In addition to a valuable cargo (including coins, precious stones and 1000 bottles of mercury), there were also some passengers on board the ship. The crew and all passengers were initially able to get to safety on the atoll. Due to the lack of water, however, they were forced to leave the island with two lifeboats for Guam after three weeks . The larger boat under the command of the helmsman Rudolf Kausch, in which all passengers were also, reached the destination after 12 days, while the second boat with captain Anton Tobias and eight crew members is missing. Parts of the ship's cargo could later be recovered. The wreck of the dragonfly was visible and recorded on nautical charts for many years.

On January 17, 1899, the crew of the American gunboat USS Bennington took possession of the atoll for the United States by direct order of the then US President William McKinley in order to set up a telegraph station there. From 1935, the airline Pan American Airways used the atoll as a stopover for its flight connections to Asia . For this purpose a hotel with 48 rooms was built and a landing pad for flying boats was set up in the lagoon.

Wake in World War II

Hoisting of the US flag on September 4, 1945 after the Japanese surrender

In January 1941 , the US Navy built a military base on the atoll during World War II . At the time of the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base on December 7, 1941, the US base was only partially ready for defense. A submarine base and an air base were still under construction, the garrison, which had been in existence since August 19, 1941, consisted of 452 marines with 12 × 76 mm anti-aircraft guns and a coastal battery.

Wake was one of the first targets of the Japanese island offensive after the opening of the Pacific War. The island became the site of the Battle of Wake: On December 11, 1941, Japan attacked the island, but the garrison repulsed the attack. Two Japanese destroyers were sunk.

The second Japanese attack on December 23, 1941 was successful. The US combat group under Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher with the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga turned back when the Japanese Navy attacked Wake again with a superior invasion fleet. During the night, troops went ashore in the blind spot of the coastal battery and overpowered the American defenders, most of whom were civilian contractors for the Morrison-Knudsen Company , a US construction company. Although the Americans attacked the atoll from the sea and from the air, the Japanese were able to hold it until the end of the war in 1945. On September 4, 1945, the Japanese garrison surrendered; the handover was officially completed in a short ceremony.

During the Cold War the base was used by the US Air Force , which still administrates the atoll today.


All military personnel have since been withdrawn, but 75 civilians are still working on wake today. The airfield is still used by the US military, as well as by some cargo planes and for emergency landings on transpacific flights . Every year around 700 landings take place. Some WWII facilities and wrecks remained on the island. Plans to dump nuclear waste were abandoned in 1998 after international protests.

Together with six other American islands in the Pacific, the waters of the Wake Atoll have formed the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument since January 6, 2009 .

The government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands contests the legality of the annexation of the Wake Atoll by the United States and in turn claims the atoll, called Ānen Kio in Marshallese . In April 2016, documents were submitted to the United Nations to support this claim.

The extinct bird species wake rail


Since 1974, military missile reentry tests and missile defense experiments have been conducted from Wake Island at 19 ° 17 '  N , 166 ° 36'  E.

The wake rail (Gallirallus wakensis) , which is endemic to the island , existed until around 1945, when it has been considered extinct.

In August 2006, the category 5 hurricane Ioke hit the atoll, severely damaging buildings and infrastructure. All personnel were previously withdrawn from the island. In September 2006, the US military returned to repair the damage.

The map Wake Island , which depicts the island relatively precisely, is one of the most popular maps of the tactical shooter Battlefield 1942 . Also, the card was printed in other offshoots of the series, including Battlefield 2 , Battlefield 2142 , Battlefield 1943 , Battlefield Heroes , Battlefield Online , Battlefield 3 and Battlefield V .

See also


  • Edwin Horace Bryan : American Polynesia and the Hawaiian Chain . 2nd revised edition. Tongg Publishing Company, Honolulu, Hawaii 1942 (English).

Web links

Commons : Wake  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Wake  - geographical and historical maps

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Edwin Horace Bryan : Notes on the geography and natural history of Wake Island . In: Atoll Research Bulletin . No. 66 . Smithsonian Institution , 1959, ISSN  0077-5630 , doi : 10.5479 / si.00775630.66.1 (English, online [PDF; 990 kB ]).
  2. Wake Island (Atoll) ( Memento from September 25, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) in the island encyclopedia oceandots.com , accessed on June 10, 2017 (English).
  3. Bernd Drechsler, Thomas Begerow, Peter-Michael Pawlik: The death before eyes. The unfortunate journey of the Bremen barque LIBELLE between 1864 and 1866 . Hauschild Verlag, Bremen 2007, ISBN 978-3-89757-333-8 .
  4. ^ Dirk Spennemann: The wreck of the Libelle and other early European Visitors to Wake Island, Central Pacific. In: Digital Micronesia. An Electronic Library and Archive. Retrieved October 21, 2018 .
  5. ^ About the Refuge. In: Wake Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. United States Fish and Wildlife Service , accessed June 10, 2017 .
  6. Wake Island. In: World Statesmen.org. Retrieved June 10, 2017 (English).
  7. ^ Giff Johnson: Marshall Islands pushes claim for Wake Island. In: Mariana's Business Journal. May 16, 2016, accessed June 10, 2017.
  8. Karen Earnshaw: Enen Kio (aka Wake Island) - Island of the kio flower. In: Marshall Islands Guide. December 17, 2016, accessed June 10, 2017.