Attu Island

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Quick Facts
  • Location: 52 ° 54' 9" N, 172 ° 54' 34" E
  • Region: Aleutians West (CA)
  • Length: 195360 mi / 314401.44 km
  • Part of: Near Islands

Details

About
the westernmost of Near Islands, the farthest W of Aleutian Islands. 37 miles long. 344.7 square miles in size.

Attu Island is the largest and farthest west Island in the Near Islands Archipelago, even farther west than the Hawaiian Islands. At roughly 20 by 35 miles (32 by 56 kilometers), the island lies roughly 1,100 miles (1,700 kilometers) from mainland Alaska, 1,500 air miles southwest of Anchorage, 500 miles east of the Russian mainland, and 750 miles east of the Kurile Islands, between the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Attu Island was the scene of the Battle of Attu, the only Land battle of World War II along the Pacific Ocean. The Battle field is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

The name Attu is a transliteration of the Aleut name of the island (Atan). It was called Saint Theodore by the explorer Aleksei Chirikov in 1742.

The only inhabited place on the island, Attu Station, is the western most occupied settlement in Alaska.The Aleut village of Attu stood at the head of Chichagof Harbor and was destroyed during the battle and no trace remains. Archeological sites of earlier Aleut settlements are also found there.

As of 1982, the only significant trees on the island were those planted by American soldiers at a chapel constructed after the 1943 battle when the Japanese occupation was over.

The weather on Attu is typical Aleutian weather: cloudy, rainy, and foggy. High winds occur occasionally. Five or six days a week are likely to be rainy, and there are only about eight or ten clear days a year. The rest of the time, even if rain is not falling, fog of varying density is the rule rather than the exception. There are 39-49 inches (990-1,200 mm) of annual rainfall & other precipitation, with the heaviest rains in the autumn and early winter. Attu is in a maritime climate zone.

History
Attu, although possibly seen by one or both of the 1741 expedition ships from a great distance, was officially discovered and called "Saint Theodore" by Captain A. I. Chirikov in the spring of 1742 (Bancroft, 1886, p. 93). The first landing on the island appears to have been in 1745 by a party of promyshlenniki led by Mikhail Nevodchikov. The Aleut name of the island was early transcribed by the Russians as "Ostrov Attu"; spelled "Atakou" by Captain Cook (1785, v. 2, p. 502), Royal Navy (RN).

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