Navassa Island

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Navassa Island (French: La Navasse, Haitian Kreyòl: Lanavaz or Lavash) is a small, uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea, and is an unorganized unincorporated territory of the United States, which administers it through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The island is also claimed by Haiti, which claims to have had sovereignty over Navassa since 1801.[1][2]


Geography and topography

Navassa Island is about 2 square miles (5.2 km2). It is found at a strategic location 90 nautical miles (100 mi; 170 km) south of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, about one-quarter of the way from Haiti to Jamaica in the Jamaica Channel. It reaches an elevation of 250 feet (76 m) at Dunning Hill 110 yards (100 m) south of the lighthouse, Navassa Island Light. This location is 440 yards (400 m) from the southwestern coast or 655 yards (600 m) east of Lulu Bay. The island's latitude and longitude is 18°24′10″N 75°0′45″W / 18.40278°N 75.0125°W / 18.40278; -75.0125Coordinates: 18°24′10″N 75°0′45″W / 18.40278°N 75.0125°W / 18.40278; -75.0125.

The terrain of Navassa Island consists mostly of exposed coral and limestone, the island being ringed by vertical white cliffs 30 to 50 feet (9.1 to 15.2 m) high, but with enough grassland to support goat herds. The island is covered in a forest of just four tree species: short-leaf fig (Ficus populnea var. brevifolia), pigeon plum (Coccoloba diversifolia), mastic (Sideroxylon foetidissimum) and poisonwood (Metopium brownei).[3][4] Its topography and ecology is similar to that of Mona Island, a small limestone island located in the Mona Passage, between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. It shares historical similarities with Mona Island since both are U.S. territories, were once centers of guano mining, and presently are nature reserves. Transient Haitian fishermen and others camp on the island but the island is otherwise uninhabited.[5] It has no ports or harbors, only offshore anchorages, and its only natural resource is guano; economic activity consists of subsistence fishing and commercial trawling activities.[6]

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