The Midway Islands (28° 12′ –17′ n and 177° 19′ –26′ w) consist of an atoll and two small islets, Eastern Island (177° 20′ w) and Sand Island (177° 22′ –24′ w), 2,100 km (1,300 mi) wnw of Honolulu. Total land and water area is 5 sq km (2 sq mi). As of 2002, 40 people made up the staff of the US Fish and Wildlife service on the atoll.
Discovered and claimed by the United States in 1859 and formally annexed in 1867, Midway became a submarine cable station early in the 20th century and an airlines station in 1935. Made a US naval base in 1941, Midway was attacked by the Japanese in December 1941 and January 1942. In one of the great battles of World War II, a Japanese naval attack on 3–6 June 1942 was repelled by US warplanes. Midway is a US unincorporated territory; there is a closed naval station, and the islands are important nesting places for seabirds. In 1993, administrative control of Midway was transferred from the US Department of the Navy to the US Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service.