Johnston (Cornwallis) Island is situated at latitude 16° 44′ north and longitude 169° 32′ west, about 760 miles southwest of Honolulu. It has been owned by the United States since 1858, when it was claimed under the guano act. Johnston Island is about 3000 feet long and 600 feet wide, and is made of sand and coral that reaches 44 feet above sea level in one place. Together with little Sand Island, it is located in a shallow lagoon about 8 miles long that is surrounded by an irregular coral reef. Johnston Island has very little rainfall, and the vegetation is limited to bunch grass and a few low herbs. Potable ground water is lacking. The island was uninhabited until it was developed as a base for seaplanes and landplanes by the military, which controls all installations and facilities.
Wake Island is an atoll at latitude 19° 16′ north, longitude 166° 37′ east, about 2300 statute miles west of Honolulu, and has been owned by the United States since 1899. The atoll consists of three islets, Wake, Wilkes, and Peale, which enclose a lagoon on three sides. Birds are abundant and include a dozen species of sea birds, several migratory birds, and a flightless rail (Rallus wakensis). Fish are plentiful in the shallow water, and rats and crabs on the land. Wake was never permanently inhabited by man until 1935, when it was developed by Pan American Airways, which built an inn, shop, power house, radio, and living quarters for ground employees on Peale Island to serve the company planes on their transpacific flights. Wake Island was later developed as a strategic air base. Captured by the Japanese in December, 1941, after a two weeks' battle, it was not reoccupied by the United States until the end of the war. The Interior Department is now the governing agency on Wake. Both the military services and the civil-operated planes use the facilities for aircraft.
Marcus Island (latitude 24° 34′ north, longitude 154° east), renamed Minamitori Shima by the Japanese, is located about 1000 miles southeast of Tokyo and about 1000 miles northwest of Wake. The island is a raised coral atoll with a maximum elevation of about 75 feet. It is of triangular shape, about 1 ½ miles north to south and 1 ¼ miles east and west, and has an area of about 740 acres. A coral reef surrounds the island, whose surface is flat and originally was covered with woods. Marcus is isolated in the north Pacific and hence has high value as an air base, weather station and strategic outpost. Seized by Japan in 1899 for a cable base, it is now occupied by the United States.