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Kwajalein atoll

The meaning of «kwajalein atoll»

Kwajalein Atoll (/ˈkwɑːdʒəlɪn/; Marshallese: Kuwajleen [kʷuwɑzʲ(ɛ)lʲɛːnʲ])[1] is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The southernmost and largest island in the atoll is named Kwajalein Island, which its majority English-speaking residents (about 1,000 mostly U.S. civilian personnel) often called by the shortened name, Kwaj /kwɑːdʒ/. The total land area of the atoll amounts to just over 6 square miles (16 km2). It lies in the Ralik Chain, 2,100 nautical miles (3,900 km; 2,400 mi) southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii.

The US Navy has hosted a naval base on Kwajalein Island, the southernmost part of the atoll, since World War II. It was the final resting place of the German cruiser Prinz Eugen after it survived the Operation Crossroads nuclear test in 1946. In the late 1950s, the US Army took over the base as part of their Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile efforts, and since then the atoll has been widely used for missile tests of all sorts. Today it is part of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, with various radars, tracking cameras, missile launchers and many support systems spread across many islands.

Kwajalein is one of the world's largest coral atolls as measured by area of enclosed water. Comprising 97 islands and islets, it has a land area of 16.4 km² (6.33 mi²) and surrounds one of the largest lagoons in the world, with an area of 2174 km² (839 mi²).[2][3] The average height above sea level for all the islands is about 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in).

The atoll was formed from volcanoes on the seabed from 165–76 mya. When the lava buildup became large enough, the land rose from beneath the sea. It cannot be determined how far above sea level the original land rose. The coral started growing about 56 mya.[4]

Islands often have alternate names: The first is the Marshallese name, the second was assigned somewhat arbitrarily by the U.S. Navy prior to their attack on the atoll during World War II. The original name was considered too difficult for English speakers to properly differentiate among the islands. The latter has often been retained by English speakers. The exception to this is Kwajalein itself, which is close to the native name; the received spelling is from German, however.

The atoll is 2,100 miles (3,400 km) from Honolulu, 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from Australia, and 2,100 miles (3,400 km) from Japan.[5]:vii Kwajalein Island is about 500 miles (800 km) north of the equator.

Kwajalein Island is the southernmost and largest of the islands in the atoll. The area is about 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2).[6] It is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long and averages about 800 yards (730 m) wide.[7] To enlarge the island, the Americans placed fill at both the northwestern part of the island above the pier (within the atoll, by 1953), the northern part extending towards Ebeye, and the southwestern parts of the island (by 1970). The northern extension was used for housing, the remainder for industrial purposes.

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