This atoll is an unorganized incorporated territory of the United States. Above the sea level here rise some 50 islands, most of them connected and covered with dense vegetation, including Pisonia trees up to 30 m high.
The islands contains one of the largest remaining stands of Pisonia beach forest in the Pacific. Palmyra Atoll is an important breeding site for several species of birds, such as the rare Bristle-thighed Curlews (Numenius tahitensis). Six species of terrestrial crabs are bossing in the islands.
Especially beautiful and rich is the life under the water. Here have been found 175 species of coral. The lagoon is infested with aggressive sharks.
The island has served as a military base in the middle of the 20th century, but the protection of its unique natural values started already in the beginning of the 20th century. Now it is National Wildlife Refuge.
The island has got its own legends and some consider this to be a cursed place (The Curse of Palmyra). Weird events reportedly have taken place here since the day of the discovery of this island in 1798. Here reportedly is buried also a cargo with Inca gold. On the island was murdered a married couple in 1974.