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The atoll of Clipperton: the island of passion

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The island of Clipperton (Isla de la Pasión) is an atoll in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, belonging to France and administered by the French overseas ministry.

Clipperton is a very isolated small piece of land in the Pacific Ocean. The island is located 10 ° north of the equator, 1,280 km west of the coast of Mexico. The closest land is the Mexican island of Socorro, which is part of the Revillagigedo archipelago, which is located 945 km north. While the island of Nuku Hiva in the archipelago of the Marquesas Islands, the closest French land, is 4,000 km south-west.


The discovery of the island appears to have been made by the English buccaneer John Clipperton in 1704. But no evidence of its passage near the atoll has been preserved. The first documented landing on the island is that which took place on April 3, 1711 (Good Friday) when the French Mathieu Martin de Chassiron and Michel Dubocage landed there. In memory of this day, they call it “Island of the Passion”, in reference to the Passion of Christ.

In the past, the island had phosphate deposits, whose deposits were exploited between 1898 and 1917. The atoll has no permanent human population. In fact, today the island is uninhabited, and has little vegetation. While there are numerous sea birds and crabs. Clipperton was long disputed between France, the United States and Mexico. In 1931, an arbitration by Italy resolved the dispute in favor of France.

The island has the particularity of having fresh water in its lagoon. The water is sweet on the surface, but becomes salty and slightly acidic starting from 6 meters deep. A unique thing in the world. Generally, in fact, the water in the lagoons of the atolls is completely formed by salt water.

  • Area: 1,61 sqkm (7,2 sqkm with the inland waters of the lagoon).
  • Population: Uninhabited.
  • Languages: Official language is French.
  • Time: UTC -7 hours.

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