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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Midway Islands

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MIDWAY ISLANDS, North Pacific Ocean, so named from being midway between Asia and America, are the northernmost islets of the Hawaiian group, extending about 1,800 miles north by west of Honolulu. The islands have come into prominence as the intermediate station of the American-Pacific cable to the Ladrone and Philippine islands via Honolulu. The group consists of a low coral atoll 18 miles in circumference, enclosing Sand Island, Eastern Island and two islets. Sand Island, the largest, is one and three-fourths miles long, three-fourths of a mile wide and has an average elevation of from 3 to 10 feet above sea-level, the highest point attaining 43 feet. Eastern Island is one and one-fourth miles long, one-half mile wide and from 6 to 12 feet high. Both islands are partly covered with coarse grass and bushes, the breeding ground of the tern or sea-swallow. Good water is obtained by sinking wells, while fish of many varieties, turtles, crabs and crawfish, etc., abound in the lagoon; sea-birds also are easily caught. The islands are inhabited only by the employees at the cable stations. From 1887-89 a shipwrecked crew lived here for 14 months until rescued, losing, however, several of their number from scurvy. A short distance west of the islands a submarine mountain rises 2,200 feet from the ocean bed to within 82 fathoms of the surface, and between the islands and Guam is an abyss of over 4,900 fathoms, one of the deepest in the world.