Navassa Island is a small island in the Caribbean Sea that’s recognized as an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, who administrates the island through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the 1800s, the island served as a mine for guano phosphate, a popular fertilizer at the time, but today it doesn’t have any inhabitants. Instead, it’s now a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge, and it occasionally hosts transient fishermen from Haiti and other surrounding areas. The island is surrounded by a coral reef and tall cliffs, which make it impossible for boats to approach.
Despite the administration by the United States, the sovereignty of Navassa Island is currently disputed by Haiti, which contests that the island is part of their country. Since 1801, their constitution has claimed Navassa Island as their territory.
With this small island’s lack of inhabitants and the controversy surrounding its sovereignty, it’s surprising that Navassa has a flag of its own, but it does. While the flag is unofficial, it was flown on one occasion in 2001.
The flag was designed by Harry Wheeler in Hawaii in the early 2000s. It’s divided in half horizontally, with a white bottom half and a dark blue bottom half, representing the ocean. In the center, a green island with a large lighthouse floats on the sea. This is a depiction of Navassa Island and its lighthouse, which appears much larger than it actually is when compared to the scale of the island on the flag. It has a 3:5 ratio. This design has received more than its fair share of criticism, but it’s unlikely that a redesign is imminent.
The only official use of the flag was at the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii on December 7, 2001. Along with several other unofficial flags of U.S. minor islands and territories that were created specifically for the occasion, Navassa’s Island was flown under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services seal in memorial of the sixtieth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The service was a tribute to the American soldiers and families who made sacrifices for their country during World War II, and nearly all of the United States’ territories were represented.