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Bible Encyclopedias
Islands of Pacific Ocean

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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"ISLANDS OF. PACIFIC OCEAN - For the oceanic islands of the Pacific see generally 20.436*, and also the separate articles on the principal groups and islands there referred to. Supplementary information is given below, and also under Guam, Hawaii, etc.

The so-called Four-Power Treaty was signed Dec. 13 1921, with prospects of early ratification, by France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States, the contracting parties agreeing as between themselves to respect their rights in relation to their insular possessions and insular dominions in the region of the Pacific Ocean."

A map, showing the mandate claims and sovereignties proposed! and zones of restricted fortification, will be found in the article Washington Conference.

America Islands. - Christmas I. was leased by a company from the British Government and planted with coco-nuts in 1904-5, but the working lapsed during the World War, and in Oct. 1919 Lord Jellicoe on H.M.S. "New Zealand" found three men who had been confined there for 18 months, ignorant of the cessation of war. The Pacific "all red" cable station on Fanning I. was wrecked by a German landing party from the "Nurnberg" Sept. 7 1914, but communication was restored by the operator. Fanning and Washington Is. belong to a coco-nut company and had in 1920 populations of a few whites and about 120 and loo native labourers respectively. These islands are administered under the Gilbert and Ellice Is. Colony, of which Ocean I. is the administrative centre.

1 Auckland Islands

2 Caroline and Pelew Islands

3 Cook Islands

4 Easter Island

5 Marianas

6 Marquesas Islands

7 Marshall Islands

8 Nauru

9 New Caledonia

10 New Hebrides

11 Niue

12 Norfolk Island

13 Phoenix Islands

14 Samoa

15 Society Islands

16 Solomon Islands

17 Tonga

18 Tubuai Islands

19 Wallis and Horne Islands

Auckland Islands

A depot of provisions and clothes has been established here by New Zealand for shipwrecked sailors.

Caroline and Pelew Islands

Japan is mandatory for these formerly German islands,' having occupied them in Sept. - Oct. 1914. The administration of Yap, which has a pop. of about 8,000 and a cable and wireless station, was at first in dispute between Japan and the United States; but in Dec. 1921 these countries reached an agreement (a formal convention to be drawn up later for signature) whereby the United States secured the same opportunities as Japan or any other nation in all that relates to cable and wireless service on the island. The pop. of the group was in 1919 about 40,000.

Cook Islands

These islands, which belong to New Zealand, had a pop. of 8,764 in 1916, including 197 whites and half-castes. Eight Government schools were maintained in 1919. Revenue (year 1918-9) £13,847; expenditure £12,344, but this latter figure excludes certain salaries, etc., and about £7,500 has been contributed annually by New Zealand toward the expenditure. In 1919 exports were valued at £142,925 and imports at £127,729. Copra (to United States) and other fruit (to New Zealand) were chief exports.

Easter Island

Pop. (1915) about 250, all native except an English manager. The island was visited by Mr. and Mrs. Scoresby Routledge in 1914-5 for the investigation of the ancient remains. These and other recent investigators have shown that the islanders, formerly considered to be of Polynesian race, possess an admixture of Melanesian (negroid) characteristics, and their culture reveals the same influence, notably in the bird-cult with its carved figures, partly human and partly of bird form, and in the practice of distending the ear-lobes. A close association with the bird-cult of Easter I. is found in the Solomon Is., far distant in the western Pacific. It is 1 Statistics of the separate are not available. Exports including New Guinea, were at £450,000.

Xxxii.--I ex-German possessions in the Pacific for them all, excepting Samoa but valued in 1913 at £ 595, 000; imports entrance, and a part of Anchorage Islet on the reef is held by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. The island is leased to a coco-nut company, but producing little owing to destruction by hurricane, and the pearl fishery has deteriorated. At Manihiki I. (pop. in 1916, 775) the pearl beds were closed when almost worked out, and at Penrhyn I. (pop. in 1916, 312) production fell off.


The former German islands (excepting Guam [see ], which belongs to the U.S.A.) were occupied by the Japanese in 1914, and were given to them under mandate in 1918.

Marquesas Islands

The Polynesian pop. has continued to diminish, and was estimated in 1920 to be less than 3,500. The French administration (established at Hivaoa) was stated to neglect the commercial ` development of the islands, though in 1913 a German trading company was established there.

Marshall Islands

These islands, formerly German, were acquired by Japan under mandate in 1918. From 1888 to 1906 they were administered by the Jaluit Trading Co., of Hamburg, under agreement with and subsidized by the German Government. The Government itself subsequently administered them down to 1914.

A recent estimate indicates a decreasing pop. numbering 9,200.


This island, in o° 33' S. lat., 166° 55' E. long., was administered along with the Marshall Is. by the Germans, but the phosphate deposits for which it is important were worked by a British company under agreement with the Jaluit company. The island surrendered to a vessel of the Australian navy in Sept. 1914 and came under British mandate in 1918. Pop. (1916), 1,284 natives, 449 Caroline islanders, 278 Chinese, 90 whites. The white settlement is at Yangor, where the phosphate company had its stores and drying plant. The deposits on the high ground (78 to 88% phosphates) are transported by light railways worked by steam, gravity, or electricity, and are shipped by surf-boats from two wharves. Under the Nauru I. agreement, 1919, between the British, Australian and New Zealand Governments, it was enacted that the Australian Government should appoint an administrator for a term of five years, that each of the three Governments should appoint a member of a board of commissioners, that the phosphate company should he bought out by the three Governments and the deposits and their workings should be vested in the board, and that the expenses of the administration, so far as not otherwise met, should be paid out of the sale of the phosphates. The island also yields copra. A wireless station was established by the Germans in 1913.

New Caledonia

Pop. (census of 1911), 50,608, including 28,075 natives, 19,319 whites, and 3,214 Asiatic immigrants. Noumea contained 8,961 inhabitants, including 5,207 free whites, 1,245 convicts, 1 ,999 natives and other coloured people, and 396 troops. Among other centres of population, Thio on the E. coast is the chief nickelmining centre, and Paagoumene on the W. coast the chief chromemining centre. Exports from New Caledonia and dependencies were valued in 1913 at £633,536 (copra, £67,932); imports at £708,- 316. The guano workings of Walpole 1., 150 m. E. by S. of Noumea, have been recently developed by a company.

New Hebrides

The pop. has been recently estimated at 65,000 natives and 800 Europeans. Exports in 1919 were valued at £364,000 (copra, £134,300; cocoa, £79,000); imports at £166,847. The AngloFrench condominium is not generally regarded as successful. According to a report of 1918, the confusion between the operations of this tribunal, the French and British courts, and the joint naval commission for native litigation, gave rise to complaints.

French settlers are said to hold the best land as a rule, though in the Banks and Torr Is. British interests are the stronger; trade has been fostered mainly by French interests. The volcano of Ambrym Is. was in eruption on and after Dec. 6 1913, and caused damage.


Pop. (1919), 3,664, including 20 whites and 160 half-castes. Exports (about six-sevenths copra) were valued in 1919 at £35,977, and imports at £21,783. The New Zealand Government contributes about £3,000 a year to the administration. A hurricane in 1915 severely damaged the coco-nut plantations, but 15,000 nuts were planted in the course of peace celebrations.

Norfolk Island

Pop. (Dec. 1918), 815. The executive council now consists of six elected members and six members appointed by the administrator. It was reported in 1919 that the Melanesian Mission established here in 1867 was contemplating the removal of its headquarters. Exports were valued in 1919 at £5,238 (lemons, passion-fruit pulp, fish and whale products); imports at £13,398.

Paumotu or Tuamotu Archipelago (the latter is the proper form, and is used throughout this part of the Pacific). - Pop. (1911), 4,581. Makatea (pop. 866) has become the most important island, owing to the working of phosphates, and is administered separately. It is an elevated coral island, unlike the other coral islands, which are atolls. From these, copra and pearl-shell are the chief exports. The dependent Gambier Is. yield the same commodities, but poorly, and their inhabitants are decreasing in numbers and physique.

Phoenix Islands

The ma j ority have been leased to the Samoan Shipping and Trading Co., for coco-nut planting.

Rotumah (to Fiji). - Pop. (1918), 2,263.


The former German islands of western Samoa were occupied by a New Zealand expeditionary force on Aug. 30 1914. Although it was stated that there was some feeling in the islands against permanent administration by New Zealand, a mandate for them was given to that Dominion in 1919. The native pop. in 1918 was 30,636 after the epidemic of influenza in that year, which caused over 8,000 deaths. There were also 1,660 white men and half-castes, and 1,166 labourers imported under indenture. The shortage of labour is particularly acute. The Deutsche Handelsand PlantagenGesellschaft (German trading and plantation company), which held 8,820 ac. under the German Government, went into liquidation in 1916, and its holdings and other German plantations were taken over by the Government of New Zealand. Exports in 1919 were valued at £53 2 ,5 00, over four-fifths of the total value being in copra, which went chiefly to the United States. In 1918 exports were valued at £306,640; imports (mainly from the United States and New Zealand) at £319,521. Revenue for one year 1919-20 was estimated at £80,215, and expenditure was expected to balance this. Apia has a wireless station. The pop. of the American Samoan islands was estimated in 1920 at 7,550. Copra is practically the only export. There is a high-powered wireless station at Tutuila.

Society Islands

The pop. of the whole of the French establishments in Oceania in 1911 (including the Society, Tubuai, Tuamotu and Marquesas groups) was 31,477, including 2,656 French, 484 British, 237 Americans and 975 Chinese: there appears to have been a large influx of the last since that date. A later estimate ascribes 1 1,000 inhabitants to Tahiti alone, but 4,000 lives were lost in this and adjacent islands in the influenza epidemic of 1918. Papeete, the capital (pop. in 1911, 4,099), was bombarded by German cruisers on Sept. 22 1914. Exports were valued in 1917 at 11,997, 4 61 francs (chiefly copra, pearl-shell, and vanilla), and imports at 7,806,294 francs. Papeete has a wireless station.

Solomon Islands

The native pop. has been recently estimated at 150,000, the whites at 800, and there are a few Chinese. For the year 1918-9 revenue amounted to £29,476; expenditure to £30,205; exports were valued at £170,125; imports at £188,408. The natives are for the most part wild and backward, and the labour question is serious. For the (formerly) German Solomon Is. see NEW Guinea.


Pop. (1919), 22,689 natives, 350 Europeans. The influenza epidemic of 1918 is said to have caused 1,000 deaths. The native government, under the king, consists of 32 nobles and the same number of elected members. The land is vested in the sovereign, but all his subjects hold some of it, and there is no pauperism or public debt. British officials assist the administration. The revenue in 1918 amounted to £58,340, and expenditure to £35,865. The value of exports in 1918 was £169,758, nearly the whole consisting of copra. Imports in 1918 were valued at £177.152. The copra is chiefly exported to America; imports are received mainly from Australia and New Zealand.

Tubuai Islands

Pop. (191 1) : Ravaivai, 432; Tubuai, 543 Rurutu, 911; Rimitara, 415; Rapa, 183. Rapa, possessing a fine natural harbour in Ahurei Bay, has been spoken of as a possible trans-oceanic port of call, for which purpose it was used in 1867-9. The island is volcanic, and the bay represents the old crater. The natives are noted sailors and are in demand for the crews of vessels.

Wallis and Horne Islands

These, formerly a French protectorate, have been declared a colony. When this annexation was proclaimed in 1913, opposition to the proclamation was fomented by Roman Catholic missionaries in Fotuna (Horne Is.), and even in Uvea (Wallis), where the native chiefs had asked for the annexation, a retention of native law was stipulated, and native law could be only gradually replaced by French law. (0. J. R. H.)

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Islands of Pacific Ocean'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​i/islands-of-pacific-ocean.html. 1910.
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