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Swains Island

coral atoll, American Samoa, southwestern Pacific Ocean, 280 miles (450 km) north of Tutuila. The atoll is 15-25 feet (5-8 metres) above sea level; it is circular in shape, with 8 miles (13 km) of shoreline, and encloses a freshwater lagoon. Probably first known to Europeans in the 19th century, the atoll was named for a whaling captain. It is not physiographically a part of the Samoan archipelago and was originally considered one of the Tokelau Islands. The American trader Eli Jennings, who had a Samoan wife, claimed the island in 1856, and it has remained the property of the family ever since. From 1916 to 1925 Swains was a part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. It became part of American Samoa in 1925. Copra is the chief product. Area approximately 1 square mile (2.6 square km). Pop. (2000) 37.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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