Howland Island, uninhabited island (.73 sq mi/1.89 sq km), central Pacific near the equator, c.1,620 mi (2610 km) SW of Honolulu. The island was discovered by American traders and was claimed by the United States in 1856, along with Jarvis Island and Baker Island. The three islands were worked for guano deposits by British and American companies during the 19th cent. The guano industry declined, and the islands were forgotten until they became a stop on the air route to Australia. American colonists were brought from Hawaii in 1935 in order to establish U.S. control against British claims, but the colony was disbanded at the outbreak of World War II. While en route to Howland Island in 1937 the aviator Amelia Earhart was lost in the Pacific. Howland Island is under the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
More on Howland Island from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pacific Islands Political Geography