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Palmyra has been called the most beautiful island in the Pacific. Palmyra is one of three U.S. Possessions in the Line Islands archipelago, it is about one-half of the way from Hawaii to American Samoa, 960 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu and 352 miles north of the equator. The island’s coordinates are 5 degrees, 52 minutes North, 162 degrees, 6 minutes West.

It was first discovered in 1798 by the American, Edmond Fanning, (who also discovered Fanning Island). In 1817 the Spanish pirate vessel Esperanza was wrecked on the reef, her cargo of gold stolen from Inca temples in Peru may still be buried on the island.

Palmyra is an uninhabited, privately owned atoll. It is about a mile and a half long by half a mile wide. It was once used as a refueling station for submarines during World War II.

The United States government geographical survey describes it as:

"Lying six degrees above the equator, (Palmyra consists of) about fifty islets covered with dense vegetation, coconut trees, and balsa-like trees up to 30 meters tall....the west lagoon is entered by a channel which will only accommodate vessels drawing 4 meters or less of water; much of the road, the landing strip and many causeways built during (World War II) are unserviceable and overgrown."

Some of the atoll's islets are offlimits, they have been designated as seabird and coconut crab reserves.