Malden Island

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Coordinates: 4°1′S 154°56′W / 4.017°S 154.933°W / -4.017; -154.933 Malden Island, sometimes called Independence Island in the nineteenth century, is a low, arid, uninhabited island in the central Pacific Ocean, about 39 km2 (15 sq mi) in area. It is one of the Line Islands belonging to the Republic of Kiribati.

The island is chiefly notable for its "mysterious" prehistoric ruins, its once-extensive deposits of phosphatic guano (exploited by Australian interests from c. 1860-1927), its former use as the site of the first British H-bomb tests (Operation Grapple, 1957), and its current importance as a protected area for breeding seabirds.



Malden Island is located 242 nautical miles (278 mi; 448 km) south of the equator, 1,530 nautical miles (1,761 mi; 2,834 km) south of Honolulu, Hawaii, and more than 4,000 nautical miles (7,000 km) west of the coast of South America. The nearest land is uninhabited Starbuck Island, 110 nautical miles (127 mi; 204 km) to the southwest. The closest inhabited place is Tongareva (Penrhyn Island), 243 nautical miles (280 mi; 450 km) to the southwest. The nearest airport is on Kiritimati (Christmas Island), 365 nautical miles (420 mi; 676 km) to the northwest. Other nearby islands (all uninhabited) include Jarvis Island, 373 nautical miles (429 mi; 691 km) to the northwest, Vostok Island, 385 nautical miles (443 mi; 713 km) to the south-southeast, and Caroline (Millennium) Island, 460 nautical miles (529 mi; 852 km) to the southeast.

The island has roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle, with 8 km (5 mi) on a side, aligned with the southwest side running northwest to southeast. The west and south corners are slightly truncated, shortening the north, east and southwest coasts to about 7 km (4 mi), and adding shorter west and south coasts about 1 to 2 km (12–1 mi) in length. A large, mostly shallow, irregularly shaped lagoon, containing a number of small islets, fills the east central part of the island. The lagoon is entirely enclosed by land, but only by relatively narrow strips along its north and east sides. It is connected to the sea by underground channels, and is quite salty. Most of the land area of the island lies to the south and west of the lagoon. The total area of the island is about 39.3 square kilometres (15 sq mi).

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