Ascension əsĕn´chən [key], island (1998 pop. 712), 34 sq mi (88 sq km), in the S Atlantic, NW of Saint Helena and belonging to the British St. Helena overseas territory. Georgetown is the main settlement and port. Ascension is volcanic and rocky with little vegetation except on the western side of Green Mt. (2,817 ft/859 m), where mixed plantings beginning in the mid-1800s have established a cloud forest. It supports considerable livestock (rabbits, wild goats, and partridges), much of which was brought in by the nonindigenous population. Sea turtles and terns breed there annually. The United States maintains missile, satellite tracking, and space research stations on the island. Discovered by the Portuguese João da Nova in 1501, Ascension was taken by the British in 1815 and used as a naval station. In 1922 it was made a dependency of St. Helena. The island served as a refueling base for British aircraft and ships during the Falkland Islands conflict between Britain and Argentina in 1982.
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