Photo used under Creative Commons from Ben Tullis

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Ascension Island

006-40765.jpg

Image courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA ISS006-E-40765 26 March 2003 17:16 UTC

Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around 1,600 kilometres (994 mi) from the coast of Africa, and 2,250 kilometres (1,398 mi) from the coast of South America which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa.

It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, of which the main island, Saint Helena, is 1,287 kilometres (800 mi) to the southeast, and the territory also includes the "remotest populated archipelago" on earth, the sparsely populated Tristan da Cunha archipelago some thirty degrees farther south–about half the way to the Antarctic Circle.


The Island is named after the day of its recorded discovery, Ascension Day, and is located at 7°56′S 14°22′W, about as far south of the equator as tropical Venezuela is to its north.

Historically, it has played a role as an important safe haven and coaling station to mariners and for commercial airliners during the days of international air travel by flying boats and during World War II was an important naval and air station, especially providing antisubmarine warfare bases in the Battle of the Atlantic and throughout the war. Ascension Island was garrisoned by the British Admiralty from 22 October 1815 to 1922.


The island is the location of Wideawake Airfield, which is a joint facility of the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force, a European Space Agency rocket tracking station, and the BBC World Service Atlantic Relay Station. The island was used extensively by the British military during the Falklands War. Ascension Island hosts one of five ground antennas that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigational system.


Ascension Island, as a part of the wider overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, does not yet have its own flag or coat of arms. The Union Flag and Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom are used instead.

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