Kingman Reef

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The US annexed the reef in 1922. Its sheltered lagoon served as a way station for flying boats on Hawaii-to-American Samoa flights during the late 1930s. There are no terrestrial plants on the reef, which is frequently awash, but it does support abundant and diverse marine fauna and flora. In 2001, the waters surrounding the reef out to 12 nm were designated a US National Wildlife Refuge.



Oceania, reef in the North Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and American Samoa

Geographic coordinates

6 24 N, 162 22 W

Map references



total: 1 sq km
land: 1 sq km
water: 0 sq km
country comparison to the world: 257

Area - comparative

about 1.7 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


3 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12nm
exclusive economic zone: 200nm


tropical; moderated by prevailing winds


low and nearly level

Natural resources

terrestrial and aquatic wildlife

Natural hazards

wet or awash most of the time, maximum elevation of about 1 meter makes Kingman Reef a maritime hazard

Environment - current issues

illegal foreign fishing; marine debris washing up on reef can entangle and kill wildlife

Geography - note

barren coral atoll with deep interior lagoon; closed to the public

People and Society




Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Kingman Reef
etymology: although discovered in 1798, the reef is named after Captain W. E. KINGMAN who described it in 1853

Dependency status

unincorporated territory of the US; administered from Washington, DC, by the US Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior
note: on 1 September 2000, the Department of the Interior accepted restoration of its administrative jurisdiction over Kingman Reef from the Department of the Navy; Executive Order 3223 signed 18 January 2001 established Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge to be administered by the Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service; this refuge is managed to protect the terrestrial and aquatic wildlife of Kingman Reef out to the 12 nm territorial sea limit

Legal system

the laws of the US apply where applicable 

Flag description

the flag of the US is used

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US


Ports and terminals

none; offshore anchorage only

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Flag of Kingman Reef

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