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Navassa Island (Central America and Caribbean)

Introduction ::Navassa Island


This uninhabited island was claimed by the US in 1857 for its guano. Mining took place between 1865 and 1898. The lighthouse, built in 1917, was shut down in 1996 and administration of Navassa Island transferred from the Coast Guard to the Department of the Interior. A 1998 scientific expedition to the island described it as a unique preserve of Caribbean biodiversity; the following year it became a National Wildlife Refuge and annual scientific expeditions have continued.

Geography ::Navassa Island


Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, 35 miles west of Tiburon
Peninsula of Haiti

Geographic coordinates:
18 25 N, 75 02 W

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 5.4 sq km country comparison to the world: 245 land: 5.4 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:

about nine times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries:

0 km


8 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


marine, tropical


raised coral and limestone plateau, flat to undulating; ringed by vertical white cliffs (9 to 15 m high)

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: unnamed elevation on southwest side 77 m

Natural resources:


Land use:

arable land: 0%

permanent crops: 0%

other: 100% (2005)

Natural hazards:


Environment - current issues:

Geography - note:

strategic location 160 km south of the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; mostly exposed rock with numerous solution holes but with enough grassland to support goat herds; dense stands of fig trees, scattered cactus

People ::Navassa Island



note: transient Haitian fishermen and others camp on the island

Government ::Navassa Island

Country name:

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Navassa Island

Dependency status:

unorganized, unincorporated territory of the US; administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior from the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Boqueron, Puerto Rico; in September 1996 the Coast Guard ceased operations and maintenance of Navassa Island Light a 46-meter-tall lighthouse on the southern side of the island; there has also been a private claim advanced against the island

Legal system:

the laws of the US where applicable apply

Diplomatic representation from the US:

none (territory of the US)

Flag description:

the flag of the US is used

Economy ::Navassa Island

Economy - overview:

Subsistence fishing and commercial trawling occur within refuge waters.

Communications ::Navassa Island

Broadcast media:

no television or radio broadcast stations (2009)

Transportation ::Navassa Island

Ports and terminals:

none; offshore anchorage only

Military ::Navassa Island

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues ::Navassa Island

Disputes - international:

claimed by Haiti, source of subsistence fishing


Hellenica World