US Islands That Aren’t In North America

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Posted: May 4, 2021
Category: USA Travel
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islands


islands

It’s true! The map of the US is all wrong! (Well, OK, not wrong but not all-inclusive. Technically, many basic maps fail to include territories and other islands recognized by the US Geological Survey. Nevertheless, with all the natural and man-made attractions they are home to, these interesting islands are worth a visit.  

The U.S. Virgin Islands

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This trio of islands consists of St Croix, St John, and St Thomas and is situated roughly 40 miles east of popular Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. St Thomas is reportedly a popular cruise ship stop and home to such historic buildings as the famous 17th-century Blackbeard’s Castle, which was once home to the legendary pirate. St. Croix is well-known for its peaceful atmosphere. It is also popular for its protected coral reefs which are perfect for those into scuba diving and snorkeling. 

The Northern Mariana Islands

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The historic Northern Mariana archipelago is located in the North Pacific Ocean. It includes 22 individual islands and islets. During WWII the US and Japanese forces fought over this territory.  

In 1947, these islands came under American ownership. The largest of these islands is Saipan. It is 44.6 square miles in total.  

Here you will discover pretty palm tree-lined beaches, impressive, mountainous landscapes, and fascinating historical sites. You will not find a lot of American tourists here due to the location of these islands but you will see a lot of Asian tourists,

American Samoa

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American Samoa is approximately halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. It offers a unique blend of raw rainforests, volcanic landscapes, and turquoise waters. In the late 1800s, the US set up a naval base in the Pago Pago Harbor, this awesome archipelago was officially made a US territory in 1900.

While there is an American influence here, the Samoan culture is preserved here and 90 percent of the indigenous population speak Samoan. This Polynesian paradise features five inhabited islands. They are Tutuila, Ta‘ū, Olosega, Ofu, Aunu’u. There are also two coral atolls.

Palmyra Atoll

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The ring-shaped archipelago known as Palmyra Atoll consists of approximately 50 currently uninhabited islets located in the Pacific Ocean. The combined size of these islets is nearly four square miles. If you decide to check out this archipelago, be sure to get the official approval of the USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you prefer some torrid tales tossed in with your tropical paradise, this is the place to be. Indeed, various sources confirm that several shocking unusual incidents have occurred here that some actually believe that Palmyra Atoll is cursed. 

Baker Island

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If you think good things come in small packages, this is the isle for you. Baker Island is less than one square mile in total. Nevertheless, this little, reef-fringed, uninhabited, atoll is incredible.

Located halfway between Hawaii and Australia, it is home to a surprising amount of wildlife. So much so, it is an official US National Wildlife Refuge This habitat is visited by at least a dozen species of shorebirds seabirds. Endangered sea turtles reside here too. In 2000 it was deigned part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument as well.

Howland Island

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Much like the previously-mentioned Baker Island, you won’t find a lot of tourists here on nearby Howland Island either. Still, if you are intrigued enough to want to see this place you need to get approval from the USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Of course, the reason why the two islands came under US ownership is not at all glamorous. In two words: “Seabird droppings.” During the 1840s, US farmers found out that seabird droppings was actually fantastic fertilizer.  

Thus, in 1857 the powers that be enacted the Guano Act. It remains in place to this day. The USA has the legal right to actually claim and “mine” any unclaimed islands for it.

Jarvis Island

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This island also came under the possession of the USA in 1856 thanks to the Guano Act. The next two decades garnered an estimated 8,000 tons of seabird droppings. Mining was discontinued sometime in 1878, and the isle was abandoned.  To this day, an abandoned town remains there. It is a rather haunting reminder of its forgotten history. 

Kingman Reef

Kingman Reef. Midway Atoll and Wake Atoll are the only other remaining landmasses in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument  Kingman Reef is home to some o the world’s oldest coral.  The gold coral colonies here are up to 5,000 years old.  This reef supports a lot of marine life including fish, blacktip sharks, and endangered giant clams.

Navassa Island

Little Navassa Island is situated between Jamaica and Haiti. It spans an area of only three square miles. Still, experts insist it is a natural ‘haven for endangered coral.”

A group of scientists presently on the Global Reef Expedition discovered that there is an unexpectedly “rich ecosystem” here that has somehow managed to stave off any damage from climate change, overfishing, and pollution that have apparently impacted other coral reefs in the area. This was yet another island legally claimed by the USA in 1857 under the earlier mentioned Guano Act.

Guam

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Last, but certainly not least on our list is Guam. Guam is approximately 5,800 miles west of San Francisco, California, in the North Pacific Ocean. While that is arguably remote, it certainly offers visitors everything needed for a vacation of beautiful beach bliss.

Here one will discover white-sand beaches, untainted coral reefs, and clear, azure water. Need some space on your island paradise? Guam is reportedly the biggest island in Micronesia. It has an area of 217 square miles.  

The population here is approximately 167,000 and consists of the indigenous Chamorro people, Some of the locals are also of European, Filipino, Mexican, and Spanish descent. This has resulted in an interesting mix of cultural influences and traditions.

Schedule your visit to coincide with the famous Festival of Pacific Arts, which is held every four years. People from all 27 Pacific Island countries and territories gather to officially celebrate Guam’s Chamorro heritage through art, dance, food, and music



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