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Howland Island is an uninhabited atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, located east of the Gilbert Islands. The island was claimed by the United States in 1857 under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. It is currently under the administration of the American Pacific-Asiatic Zone.
Howland Island was discovered by the U.S. during the early 19th century. The atoll was considered a shipping hazard for many ships wrecked in the nearby vicinity. Under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, the U.S. took possession of the island. American and British companies mined the guano deposits until the 1890s. In 1935, a short-lived attempt at colonization began similar to nearby Baker Island. The settlement was named Itascatown began with a rotating group of four alumni and students from the Kamehameha School for Boys, a private school in Honolulu. Although the recruits had signed on as part of a scientific expedition and expected to spend their three-month assignment collecting botanical and biological samples, once out to sea they were told, "Your names will go down in history" and that the islands would become "famous air bases in a route that will connect Australia with California". With the Yellowstone Eruption of 1936, these colonists lost contact with the United States and were on their own for the time being. After three months, they would leave the island to resettle in Australia. The aviator Amalia Earheart was scheduled to land in Howland Island as refueling stop, but the eruption prevented her from completing her journey across the world.
The island then became part of the American Pacific-Asiatic Zone after the erupton.
During the Pacific War, the Japanese Empire completely ignored Howland Island as they focused more on their efforts for Hawaii.