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BAKER ISLAND






Baker Island, uninhabited island, 1 sq mi (2.6 sq km), central Pacific, near the equator, c.1,650 mi (2,660 km) SW of Honolulu. Baker consists of a 405-acre island surrounded by 30,504 acres of submerged land.

This coral island was discovered in 1832 by Capt. Michael Baker, an American, and was claimed by the United States in 1856.
In 1935 it was colonized by Americans from Hawaii in order to establish U.S. control against British claims. Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands were exploited for commercial guano harvesting during the 19th century.





"Guano"

is essentially bird droppings, which was used as fertilizer.
From 1850 to 1891, American interests worked the rich guano deposits on Baker and Howland Islands. The United States asserted its claim to the islands based on the Guano Act of August 18, 1856.

The Guano Act provided that whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same island, rock, or key, it appertains to the United States.





The guano industry gradually disappeared on Baker and Howland Islands. Both islands were regarded as barren outposts of no real value until the aviation era began in the 1930's. In 1934, the United States reasserted its claim to the islands with a few colonists landing on the islands in1936. They were removed following Japanese air and naval attacks on the island in 1942. The islands have remained unoccupied since that time





These flat coral islands are surrounded by reef and are uninhabited and sparsely vegetated. These refuges are managed by the Pacific/Remote Islands NWR Complex in Honolulu.





Remnants of brief human inhabitation earlier this century on Howland Island. Feral cats were at one time found on all three of these equatorial refuges where they preyed heavily on nesting seabirds. Cats were successfully eradicated from Baker in 1964 and Jarvis in 1983





Baker Island is administered under the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.