atoll, northwestern end of the Ralik chain, Republic of the Marshall Islands, in the western Pacific Ocean. Circular in shape (50 miles [80 km] in circumference), it comprises 40 islets around a lagoon 23 miles (37 km) in diameter. During World War II it was captured from the Japanese by U.S. forces (February 1944), and its fine anchorage was made into a naval base. Its inhabitants were evacuated to other atolls after it was designated, with Bikini atoll, a testing ground for atomic weapons. Tests were held in 1948, 1951, 1952, 1954, and 1956. In 1980, after the island's contaminated topsoil was removed, Enewetak was declared decontaminated, and its people were given an opportunity to return. Their first crops grown were found to be too badly contaminated, and, as at Bikini atoll, the people had to be removed again. Pop. (latest est.) 1,100
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