Midway: Why Barack Obama visited a tiny island in the Pacific

CNN  — 

It’s not every day that there are more people on board Air Force One than in the place it touches down, but Thursday was one of those occasions.

Barack Obama landed on the remote Pacific island of Midway less than a week after the US President created the world’s largest protected marine reserve in the area surrounding the tiny atoll.

It’s a big green feather in Obama’s cap as he seeks to cement his environmental legacy before he leaves office.

Obama has tried to portray himself as the eco-warrior-in-chief over the past eight years. He’s pushed the world to act on climate change – which he calls the greatest threat to future generations – and he’s using his powers as president to turn at-risk areas, like the waters around Midway, into national monuments.


Midway is a tiny ring of coral reef in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, more than 1,300 miles and three hours by plane from Honolulu, where Obama was born. It’s part of the Hawaiian archipelago, but it’s the only island that isn’t technically part of the state of Hawaii.

If the name “Midway” sounds familiar, it’s because the island is where the US scored its most famous naval victory, defeating Japan at the Battle of Midway in 1942.

The battle transformed the Second World War in the Pacific, but today Midway is on the front lines of a different conflict – the fight to save the world’s oceans.