Wake Island: Wake Island is a coral atoll consisting of three islets Wake, Wilkes and Peale. The atoll, situated on a submerged volcanolies in the Pacific on the direct route from Hawaii to Hong Kongabout 3,200 km west of Hawaii and 2,060 km east of Guam. The group is 7.2 km long and 2.4 km wide, and covers less than 8 sq. km (3 sq. miles). Wake Island may have been sighted by a Spanish expedition in 1568, but, following its formal discovery by a British vessel (commanded by Capt. William Wake, for whom the island isnamed) in 1796, its exact location was lost and not re-established until 1841 by a US naval expedition. The US Government took formal possession in 1899. In 1935 Wake Island was placed under the control of the US Department of the Navy, and in the same year a commercial seaplane base was established to service trans-Pacific passenger flights. The island was occupied by Japanese forces during the Second World War. Administrative responsibility passed to the US Department of the Interior in 1962, but the territory is actually administered by the US Air Force. In 1972 the responsibility for civil administration was delegated to the General Counsel of the Air Force, the agent being the Military Commander of Wake Island. In 1983 the population was 1,600, and in 1988 was estimated to be almost 2,000. These numbers have declined in recent years. In 1990 legislation before the US Congress proposed the inclusion of Wake Island within the boundaries of the territory of Guam. However, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, some 500 km to the south of Wake, then decided to exert its claim to the atoll, known as Enenkio to the Micronesians. President Amata Kabua of the Marshall declared that Wake Island was a site of great importance to the traditional chiefly rituals of his islands and that the Marshall Islands, having achieved a measure of independence from the USA, could now claim the territory. The group is administered by the US Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force (Pacific/East Asia Division), The Pentagon, Washington, DC 20380; tel. (202)694-8010.