(EMPIRE and OCEANIA to 1900 – continued)

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EMPIRE and OCEANIA (5 of 5)

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Samoa and the Mariana and Caroline Islands, to 1900

In 1884 Germany established a colony in northeastern New Guinea, putting the colony under the administration of a chartered company – the same year that Britain proclaimed as its protectorate the southern coast of New Guinea (Papua) and adjacent islands.

In 1885, Germany expanded into the Marshall Islands, Germany mediating with Pope Leo XIII and giving compensation (4.5 million dollars) to Spain, which had a claim to those islands. In the Marshalls, Germany annexed 353 small islands (about 400 square kilometers) in the Batak and Ralik groups, offering various chieftains protection. Germany's government left the administration of the islands to trading companies, which were involved in the major export of coconut oil and copra (dried coconut kernels) from the islands – a business they shared there with Australians.

The Germans, British and Americans had been competing for trade and power in Samoa, while Samoan chieftains had been fighting each other. In 1899, the British and American navies backed a chieftain, Tanu, against a rival, Mataafan, who was supported by the Germans. British and American warships shelled the major town of Apia on the island of Upolu, but the British, American and Tanu forces were unable to take control of the interior of the island, and an agreement was made, Germany winning control over what became Western Samoa and the US taking control at Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango) in what became American Samoa. In this settlement, Britain received recognition as having power over Tonga, and, adding to its possessions in the southern Solomon Islands, it received German possessions in the northern Solomon Islands.

In 1899, the Germans purchased islands in the northern Ladrone (Mariana) islands and the Caroline Islands from Spain – except for Guam, which the United States had captured from Spain the year before.


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