Clipperton Island (Île de la Passion) is an uninhabited coral atoll in the eastern Pacific Ocean, north of the Equator, some 1280 km (795 mi) southwest of Acapulco on the Mexican coast. The island is named for John Clipperton, an English pirate and privateer who was the first to map the island in the early 1700s. France annexed Clipperton in 1858, adding it to its French Polynesia colony, but the French did not occupy the island. In 1892, a U.S. company claimed the island under the Guano Islands Act and mined phosphate from guano (bird droppings) for five years. In 1897, when the Americans left, Mexico asserted sovereignty and located a small colony on the island. The Mexican settlers were marooned after 1914, when political upheavals in Mexico caused supply ships to stop coming to the island. A passing U.S. warship picked up a handful of survivors in 1917.
In 1930, the sovereignty dispute was referred to King Victor Emmanuel of Italy as arbitrator, and in 1931 he ruled in favor of France. In 1935, France reactivated the lighthouse and established a small military outpost on the atoll, although it did not attempt a permanent settlement. The outpost was withdrawn in 1938 with the approach of World War II. The U.S. Navy occupied the atoll in 1944-45. Since 1980 France has maintained an automatic weather station on the island.
In 2007, the administration of Clipperton was transferred from the government of French Polynesia to the French overseas territories ministry (Ministère de l'Outre-Mer) in Paris. The island is now a restricted wildlife preserve.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
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Posted December 12, 2007. Checked and revised November 27, 2012. Lighthouses: 0. Site copyright 2012 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.