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Aguiguan
Aguijan ISS017-E-20419 (cropped).JPG
Satellite view, with Naftan Rock visible to the southwest
Mariana Islands - Aguijan.PNG
Geography
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 14°51′13″N 145°33′34″E / 14.85361°N 145.55944°E / 14.85361; 145.55944
Archipelago Northern Mariana Islands
Area 7.01 km2 (2.71 sq mi)
Length 4.7 km (2.92 mi)
Width 1.8 km (1.12 mi)
Highest elevation 157 m (515 ft)
Administration
United States
Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands
Demographics
Population - uninhabited - (2010)

Aguiguan (also Aguigan and Aguihan, based on the Spanish rendition of the native name, Aguijan, which is still used) is a small bean-shaped coralline island in the Northern Mariana Islands chain in the Pacific Ocean. It is situated 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) south-west of Tinian, from which it is separated by the Tinian Channel. Aguiguan and neighboring Tinian Island together form Tinian Municipality, one of the four main political divisions that comprise the Northern Marianas.

History

AguiganFromTinian
Aguigan, viewed from the southern end of Tinian

It is likely that first sighting by Europeans occurred during the Spanish expedition of Ferdinand Magellan, or by its continuation by Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa being charted as Santo Ángel. It was visited by the Spanish missionary Diego Luis de San Vitores in 1669.

Aguiguan was administered as part of the Spanish Mariana Islands from the 16th century to 1899, when the Northern Marianas were sold by Spain to the German Empire. Under Germany, it administered as part of German New Guinea. During World War I, Aguiguan came under the control of the Empire of Japan and was administered as part of the South Seas Mandate. During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army maintained a garrison on Aguigan. This garrison is noteworthy because of its surrender to Allied forces September 4, 1945, two days after the surrender of Japan on the USS Missouri (BB-63). The surrender is unique because it was the only surrender hosted by a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, USCG 83525. US Navy Admiral Marshall R. Greer received the surrender of the Japanese Second Lieutenant Kinichi Yamada.

Following World War II, Aguiguan came under the control of the United States and was administered as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Since 1978, the island has been part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Geography

Txu-pclmaps-oclc-22834566 k-13b (Tinian Channel crop)
Aguiguan is separated from Tinian by Tinian Channel (1988 map)

Aguiguan is only 7.09 square kilometers (2.74 sq mi) in size, with a length of 4.7 km (2.9 mi) and a width of 1.8 km (1.1 mi). It is nicknamed “Goat Island” due to the large number of feral goats present there. Much of the native vegetation on Aguigan has been destroyed by goats.

Aguiguan is uninhabited and is seldom visited because it is surrounded by sheer steep cliffs. However, a 2002 survey of the island did find a handful of native species there, including the Mariana fruit bat, the Polynesian sheath-tailed bat and the Micronesian megapode Megapodius laperouse.

Naftan Rock

Map Saipan Tinian islands closer
Map including Naftan Rock

Approximately 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) off the south-west shore of Aguiguan is Naftan Rock, 18 meters (59 ft) in elevation.

Important Bird Area

Aguigan and Naftan Rock have been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because they support populations of Micronesian megapodes, white-throated ground doves, Mariana fruit doves, Mariana swiftlets, Micronesian myzomelas, rufous fantails, Aguiguan reed warblers, golden and Saipan white-eyes, and Micronesian starlings. Aguigan also supports seabird breeding colonies, with 120 pairs of brown boobies and 450 pairs of brown noddies reported, while Naftan Rock is home to several thousand seabirds.

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