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Navassa Island
Flag of Navassa Island (local).svg      US-FishAndWildlifeService-Logo.svg
Map of Navassa Island
Owned by United States
Claimed under Guano Islands Act
Island Type Coral, limestone
Discovered 1504
Claimed for
United States
October 1857
Discovered by Christopher Columbus
Area 2 sq mi (5.2 km2)
Population Uninhabited. Hundreds of laborers lived here while it was being mined
Transportation Offshore anchorage only; steep cliffs make boat landing impossible
Major Settlements Lulu Town
Uses Mined for guano between 1865-1898; now a wildlife preserve
Additional Claims Haiti
FIPS territory code bq

Navassa Island (French: La Navase, 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]

Contents

Geography and topography

Navassa Island is about two 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.

Navassa Island is south of Cuba, east of Jamaica, and west of Haiti. This map originates with the US government and shows the US claim on the island
Navassa Island - NASA NLT Landsat 7 (visible color) satellite image

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 to 15 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. 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.

History

In 1504, Christopher Columbus, stranded on Jamaica, sent some crew members by canoe to Hispaniola for help. They ran into the island on the way, but it had no water. They called it Navaza (from "nava-" meaning plain, or field), and it was avoided by mariners for the next 350 years.

Despite an earlier claim by Haiti, Navassa Island was claimed for the United States in 1857 by Peter Duncan, an American sea captain, the third island to be claimed under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, because of the island's guano deposits. These deposits were actively mined from 1865 to 1898. Haiti protested the annexation, but the U.S. rejected the Haitian claim and since October 1857 has claimed the island as an unincorporated territory (according to the Insular Cases).

Navassa Island.

Guano phosphate was a superior organic fertilizer that became a mainstay of American agriculture in the mid-19th century. Duncan transferred his discoverer's rights to his employer, an American guano trader in Jamaica, who sold them to the newly-formed Navassa Phosphate Company of Baltimore. After an interruption for the U.S. Civil War, the Company built larger mining facilities on Navassa with barrack housing for 140 black contract laborers from Maryland, houses for white supervisors, a blacksmith shop, warehouses, and a church. Mining began in 1865. The workers dug out the guano by dynamite and pick-axe and hauled it in rail cars to the landing point at Lulu Bay, where it was sacked and lowered onto boats for transfer to the Company barque, the S.S. Romance. The living quarters at Lulu Bay were called Lulu Town, as appears on old maps. Railway tracks eventually extended inland.

Hauling guano by muscle-power in the fierce tropical heat, combined with general disgruntlement with conditions on the island eventually provoked a rebellion in 1889, in which five supervisors died. A U.S. warship returned eighteen of the workers to Baltimore for three separate trials on murder charges. A black fraternal society, the Order of Galilean Fisherman, raised money to defend the miners in federal court, and the defense built its case on the contention that the men acted in self-defense or in the heat of passion, and that the United States did not have jurisdiction over the island. The cases, including Jones v. United States, 137 U.S. 202 (1890) went to the U.S. Supreme Court in October 1890, which ruled the Guano Act constitutional, and three of the miners were scheduled for execution in the spring of 1891. A grass-roots petition drive by black churches around the country, also signed by white jurors from the three trials, reached President Benjamin Harrison, who commuted the sentences to imprisonment.

Guano mining resumed on Navassa at a much reduced level. The Spanish-American War of 1898 forced the Phosphate Company to evacuate the island and file for bankruptcy, and the new owners abandoned the island after 1901.

Navassa Island Light. The light keeper's quarters appear in the background.
Ruins of Navassa Light keeper's quarters.

Navassa became significant again with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Shipping between the American eastern seaboard and the Canal goes through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. Navassa, a hazard to navigation, needed a lighthouse. The U.S. Lighthouse Service built Navassa Island Light, a 162 foot (46 m) tower on the island in 1917, 395 feet (120 m) above sea level. A keeper and two assistants were assigned to live there until the United States Lighthouse Service installed an automatic beacon in 1929. After absorbing the Lighthouse Service in 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard serviced the light twice each year. The U.S. Navy set up an observation post for the duration of World War II. The island has been uninhabited since then.

A scientific expedition from Harvard University studied the land and marine life of the island in 1930. After World War II amateur radio operators occasionally visited to operate from the territory, which is accorded "entity" (country) status by the American Radio Relay League. The callsign prefix is KP1. Fishermen, mainly from Haiti, fish the waters around Navassa.

Aerial photo showing the steep rocky coast that rings the island.

From 1903 to 1917, Navassa was a dependency of the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and from 1917 to 1996 it was under United States Coast Guard administration. Since January 16, 1996, it has been administered by U.S. Department of the Interior.

On August 29, 1996, the United States Coast Guard dismantled the light on Navassa. An inter-agency task force headed by the U.S. Department of State transferred oversight of the island to the U.S. Department of the Interior. By Secretary's Order No. 3205 of January 16, 1997, the Interior Department assumed control of the island and placed the island under its Office of Insular Affairs. For statistical purposes, Navassa was grouped with the now-obsolete term United States Miscellaneous Caribbean Islands and is now grouped with other islands claimed by the U.S. under the Guano Islands Act islands as the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

A 1998 scientific expedition led by the Center for Marine Conservation in Washington D.C. described Navassa as "a unique preserve of Caribbean biodiversity." The island's land and offshore ecosystems have survived the twentieth century virtually untouched. The island will be studied by annual scientific expeditions for the next decade at least.

By Secretary's Order No. 3210 of December 3, 1999, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service assumed administrative responsibility for Navassa, which became a National Wildlife Refuge Overlay, also known as Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Office of Insular Affairs retains authority for the island's political affairs and judicial authority is exercised directly by the nearest U.S. Circuit Court. Access to Navassa is hazardous and visitors need permission from the Fish and Wildlife Office in Boquerón, Puerto Rico in order to enter its territorial waters or land. Since this change of status, amateur radio operators have repeatedly been denied entry. Attempts to ease this situation are ongoing.

See also

References

  1. ^ Government of Haiti: Geography of Haiti (with French to English translation)
  2. ^ Serge Bellegarde (October 1998). [haitiforever.com/windowsonhaiti/navassa.shtml "Navassa Island: Haiti and the U.S. – A Matter of History and Geography"]. windowsonhaiti.com. haitiforever.com/windowsonhaiti/navassa.shtml. Retrieved 2008-02-06.  
  3. ^ Navassa National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife
  4. ^ Navassa Island:Terrestrial biota

Fabio Spadi (2001). "Navassa: Legal Nightmares in a Biological Heaven". IBRU Boundary & Security Bulletin. http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/publications/showpubs/?id=195.  

External links


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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : Caribbean : Navassa Island
Flag
Image:us-flag.png
Quick Facts
Area 5.2 sq km
Population uninhabited
Time Zone UTC -5

Navassa Island is an uninhabited island in the Caribbean that is administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior of the United States of America as a National Wildlife Refuge. The island is also claimed by Haiti. It lies about one-fourth of the way from Haiti to Jamaica.

Map of Navassa Island
Map of Navassa Island

Strategically located at 18 deg 25' N, 75 deg 02' W, 160 km south of the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the island has a land area of 5.2 sq km consisting is mostly exposed coral and limestone rock. It has a flat to undulating raised plateau with an unnamed location on southwest side, at 77 m high being the highest point. It is ringed by vertical white cliffs that are typically 9 to 15 m high and has a 8 km coastline. The island has marine, tropical climate and has enough grassland to support goat herds as well as dense stands of fig-like trees and scattered cactus.

History

This uninhabited island was claimed by the U.S. in 1857 for its guano, and mining took place between 1865 and 1898. A 46-meter-tall lighthouse was built in 1917, on the southern side of the island. The Coast Guard ceased operations and maintenance of Navassa Island Light in September 1996. After the lighthouse was shut down administration of Navassa Island transferred from the Coast Guard to the Department of the Interior. A 1998 scientific expedition to the island described it as a unique preserve of Caribbean biodiversity; the following year it became a National Wildlife Refuge.

The island is considered an unincorporated territory of the US that is administered from Washington, DC, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. There has also been a private claim advanced against the island.

Get in

Access to Navassa is hazardous and visitors need permission from the Fish and Wildlife Office before entering the territory.

By plane

There is no airstrip on the island.

By boat

There are no harbors and an offshore anchorage is the only option.

Buy

There is no economic activity on Navassa Island.

Sleep

Although the island is uninhabited, transient Haitian fishermen and others have been known to camp on the island.

Stay safe

The laws of the U.S. apply.

Stay healthy

Don't drink the water!

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Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

<tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Claimed under</th><td>Guano Islands Act
Navassa Island <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center">The flag of the United States The unofficial flag of Navassa Island</td></tr> <tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center">Map of Navassa Island</td></tr>
Owned by United States
</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Island Type</th><td>Coral, limestone</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Discovered</th><td>1504</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Claimed for
United States</th><td>October 1857</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Discovered by</th><td>Christopher Columbus</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Area</th><td>5.2 square kilometers</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Population</th><td>Uninhabited. Hundreds of laborers lived here while it was being mined</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Transportation</th><td>Offshore anchorage only; steep cliffs make boat landing impossible</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Major Settlements</th><td>Lulu Town</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Uses</th><td>Mined for guano between 1865-1898; now a wildlife preserve</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">Additional Claims</th><td>Haiti</td></tr> <tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">FIPS territory code</th><td>bq</td></tr><tr><th style="white-space: nowrap">ccTLD</th><td>.um</td></tr>

Navassa Island (French: La Navase, 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.[1]

Contents

Geography and Topography

Navassa Island is about two square miles (5.2 km²). It is found at a strategic location 160 km (90 nautical miles) 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 77 m at an unnamed peak 100 m south of the lighthouse, Navassa Island Light. This location is 400 m from the southwestern coast or 600 m east of Lulu Bay. The island's latitude and longitude is 18°24′10″N, 75°0′45″WCoordinates: 18°24′10″N, 75°0′45″W

.
Navassa Island is south of Cuba, east of Jamaica, and west of Haiti. This map originates with the US government and shows the US claim on the island
Navassa Island - NASA NLT Landsat 7 (visible color) satellite image

The terrain of Navassa Island consists mostly of exposed coral and limestone, the island being ringed by vertical white cliffs nine to 15 meters high, but with enough grassland to support goat herds. There are also dense stands of fig-like trees and scattered cactus on the island. 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 the same historical similarities as 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. 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.

History

In 1504, Christopher Columbus, stranded on Jamaica, sent some crew members by canoe to Hispaniola for help. They ran into the island on the way, but it had no water. They called it Navaza (from "nava-" meaning plain, or field), and it was avoided by mariners for the next 350 years.

Despite an earlier claim by Haiti, Navassa Island was claimed for the United States in 1857 by Peter Duncan, an American sea captain, the third island to be claimed under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, because of the island's guano deposits. These deposits were actively mined from 1865 to 1898. Haiti protested the annexation, but the U.S. rejected the Haitian claim and since October 1857 has claimed the island as an unincorporated territory (according to the Insular Cases.)

Guano phosphate was a superior organic fertilizer that became a mainstay of American agriculture in the mid-19th century. Duncan transferred his discoverer's rights to his employer, an American guano trader in Jamaica, who sold them to the just-formed Navassa Phosphate Company of Baltimore. After an interruption for the U.S. Civil War, the Company built larger mining facilities on Navassa with barrack housing for 140 black contract laborers from Maryland, houses for white supervisors, a blacksmith shop, warehouses, and a church. Mining began in 1865. The workers dug out the guano by dynamite and pick-axe and hauled it in rail cars to the landing point at Lulu Bay, where it was sacked and lowered onto boats for transfer to the Company barque, the S.S. Romance. The living quarters at Lulu Bay were called Lulu Town, as appears on old maps. Railway tracks eventually extended inland.

Navassa Island.

Hauling guano by muscle-power in the fierce tropical heat, combined with general disgruntlement with conditions on the island eventually provoked a rebellion on the island in 1889. Five supervisors died in the fighting. A U.S. warship returned eighteen of the workers to Baltimore for three separate trials on murder charges. A black fraternal society, the Order of Galilean Fisherman, raised money to defend the miners in federal court, and the defense rested its case on the contention that the men acted in self-defense or in the heat of passion and that in any case the United States did not have proper jurisdiction over the island. The cases, including Jones v. United States, 137 U.S. 202 (1890)

went to the U.S. Supreme Court in October 1890, which ruled the Guano Act constitutional, and three of the miners were scheduled for execution in the spring of 1891. A grass-roots petition drive by black churches around the country, also signed by white jurors from the three trials, reached President Benjamin Harrison, however, who commuted the sentences to imprisonment.

Guano mining resumed on Navassa but at a much reduced level. The Spanish-American War of 1898 forced the Phosphate Company to evacuate the island and file for bankruptcy, and the new owners abandoned the place to the booby birds after 1901.

Navassa Island Light. The light keeper's quarters appear in the background.
Ruins of Navassa Light keepers quarters.

Navassa became significant again with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Shipping between the American eastern seaboard and the Canal goes through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. Navassa, which had always been a hazard to navigation, needed a lighthouse. The U.S. Lighthouse Service built Navassa Island Light, a 162 foot (46 m) tower on the island in 1917, 395 feet (120 m) above sea level. A keeper and two assistants were assigned to live there until the United States Lighthouse Service installed an automatic beacon in 1929. After absorbing the Lighthouse Service in 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard serviced the light twice each year. The U.S. Navy set up an observation post for the duration of World War II. The island has not been inhabited since then.

A scientific expedition from Harvard University studied the land and marine life of the island in 1930. Since World War II, amateur radio operators have landed frequently to operate from the territory, which is accorded "country" status by the American Radio Relay League. Fishermen, mainly from Haiti, fish the waters around Navassa.

From 1903 to 1917, Navassa was a dependency of the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and from 1917 to 1996 it was under United States Coast Guard administration. Since 16 January 1996, it has been administered by U.S. Department of the Interior. On August 29, 1996, the United States Coast Guard dismantled the light on Navassa. An inter-agency task force headed by the U.S. Department of State transferred the island to the U.S. Department of the Interior. By Secretary's Order No. 3205 of January 16, 1997, the Interior Department assumed control of the island and placed the island under its Office of Insular Affairs. For statistical purposes, Navassa was grouped with the now-obsolete term United States Miscellaneous Caribbean Islands and is now grouped with other islands claimed under the Guano Islands Act islands as the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

A 1998 scientific expedition led by the Center for Marine Conservation in Washington D.C. described Navassa as "a unique preserve of Caribbean biodiversity." The island's land and offshore ecosystems have survived the twentieth century virtually untouched. The island will be studied by annual scientific expeditions for the next decade at least.

Aerial photo showing the steep rocky coast that rings the island.

By Secretary's Order No. 3210 of December 3, 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assumed administrative responsibility for Navassa, which became a National Wildlife Refuge Overlay, also known as Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Office of Insular Affairs retains authority for the island's political affairs and judicial authority is exercised directly by the nearest U.S. Circuit Court. Access to Navassa is hazardous and visitors need permission from the Fish and Wildlife Office in Boqueron, Puerto Rico in order to enter its territorial waters or land. Since this change of status, amateur radio operators have repeatedly been denied entry. Since, under the callsign KP1, this is a particularly rare "entity," attempts are being made to have Congress allow entry. It is understood that, should permission be received, the island's ecological integrity would be carefully respected.

See also

Sources and External links

US-Haiti Territorial Dispute

  • Fabio Spadi, Navassa: Legal Nightmares in a Biological Heaven, IBRU Boundary & Security Bulletin, 2001 [2]


This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Navassa Island. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

This article uses material from the "Navassa Island" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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