Missing image
Kwajalein Atoll - NASA NLT Landsat 7 (Visible Color) Satellite Image
Kwajalein Atoll is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) in the Ralik Chain, 2,100 nautical miles (3900 km) southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii, at Template:Coor dm. Kwajalein is one the world's largest coral atolls (not by land area, which is comparatively small, but by total area including the lagoon), comprising 97 islets with an aggregate land area of 6.33 km, and surrounds one of the largest lagoons in the world, measuring 839.30 km in size.
Missing image
Kwajalein Atoll (Jacob, Arnold, etc. are World War II code names for islands)

Since 1944, when the U.S. captured the atoll from the Japanese in the Battle of Kwajalein, it has been used for military purposes, while escaping the tragic fate of nearby Bikini Atoll. Eleven of the 97 islands comprising Kwajalein Atoll are now leased by the United States from the RMI government to accommodate the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, or RTS (formerly known as Kwajalein Missile Range, KMR). RTS includes radar installations, optics, telemetry, and communications equipment which are used for ballistic missile and missile interceptor testing and space operations support.

Infantry inspect a hole in the devasted Kwajalein Atoll
Infantry inspect a hole in the devasted Kwajalein Atoll

Kwajalein Island is the southernmost, and the largest, of the islands in the Kwajalein atoll. The northernmost, and second largest, island is Roi-Namur. These are the two main islands used by the U.S. staff and their families are accommodated in trailers or hard housing. Unaccompanied personnel live in apartment style housing. The population of Kwajalein island is approximately 2,500, all of whom are U.S. staff. The primary mode of personal transportation is the bicycle and housing is free for all personnel.

The military history of Kwajalein has made tourism almost non-existent and has kept the environment in pristine condition. Kwajalein lagoon offers excellent wreck diving of mostly Japanese ships, a few planes and a very large German heavy cruiser, the Prinz Eugen. Spear fishing and deep sea fishing are also exceptional. 80 degree water temperature and 100 foot visibility are common when scuba diving on the ocean side of the atoll.

A neighboring island Ebeye has the largest population in the atoll, with approximately 12,000 native residents living on 80 acres (320,000 m²) of land. Ebeye is one of the most densely populated places in the world.

Roi-Namur used to be 3 separate islands: Roi, Namur and Enidrikdrik. After WWII, while the US had control of the atoll, they mostly paved over Enidrikdrik and renamed the resulting island Roi-Namur.

Since 1961 several tests of anti-ballistic missiles were performed on Kwajalein. Therefore there are launchpads on Illeginni Island ( Template:Coor d), Roi-Namur Island ( Template:Coor d) and Kwajalein Drop Zone, Pacific Ocean ( Template:Coor d).


Other islands in the Kwajalein atoll

  • Ebeye is not part of the Reagan Test Site, it is a Marshallese island-city with hotels, restaurants and an active commercial port.
  • Meck is a launch site for anti-ballistic missiles.
  • Roi-Namur has several radar installations. Japanese bunkers and buildings from World War II are still in good condition.
  • Bigej (Marshllese "Pikeej") is uninhabited and has no buildings on it but many people from Kwajalein island in the south of the atoll come up to visit it. It is covered with lush tropical palm trees and jungle.
  • Legan (Marshallese "Ambo") is uninhabited but does have a few buildings on the southern part of the island. Most of the island is thick jungle like most islands in the Marshall Islands. Unlike most islands though, Legan has a very small lake in the middle.
  • Little Bustard (Marshallese "Drebubbu") is the first island north of Kwajalein on the East reef.
  • Nell (Marshallese "Nell") is a popular destination for Kwajalein boat owners who like to drink beer and sleep in the jungle.

Passes near Kwajalein island

  • SAR Pass (Search And Rescue Pass) is closest to Kwajalein on the West reef. This pass is manmade and was created in the 1970's, it is very narrow and shallow compared to the other natural passes in the lagoon and is only used by small boats. It is often misprounounced "Zar Pass."
  • South Pass is also on the West reef, north of SAR Pass. It is very wide.
  • Bijej Pass is the first pass on the East reef North of Kwajalein & Ebeye. The shallow reef on the South side makes a fun but hazardous surfing destination.

See also

External links

work on Kwajalein

Kwajalein community

Local government



ja:クェゼリン環礁 fi:Kwajalein


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