The Caroline Islands (or the Carolines) are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end. Historically, this area was also called Nuevas Filipinas or New Philippines as they were part of the Spanish East Indies and governed from Manila in the Philippines.
Most of the islands comprise low, flat coral atolls, but some rise high above sea level.
The native inhabitants speak a variety of Micronesian languages including Pohnpeian, Chuukese, Carolinian, and Kosraean, as well as the Western Malayo-Polynesian languages Palauan and Chamorro, and the unclassified language Yapese (possibly one of the Admiralty Islands languages). Other significant populations include Filipinos and Japanese.
The natives live mainly on horticulture and fishing, also supplementing their diet with many different varieties of bananas and taro, either of the "swamp" or "purple" varieties. On some islands housing continues to be built with local materials including coconut thatch. The language spoken in commerce is English, but there are several indigenous languages. They traditionally believe in a Supreme Being (Yalafar) and in a bad spirit (Can), yet they have hardly any religious rites. Due to extensive missionary work, Christianity is the primary religion practiced in this region of Micronesia.
Micronesian Navigator Mau Piailug was from the Carolinian island of Satawal. He learned the traditional navigation techniques of the Weriyeng school. These techniques had been preserved while similar techniques had been forgotten elsewhere partly due to the remoteness of the Carolinian Islands. In the 1970s Mau shared his knowledge with the Polynesian Voyaging Society which led to a revival of traditional Polynesian navigation and a new anthropological understanding of the history of Polynesian and Micronesian peoples.
Different islands and island groups in the Carolines passed down unique and variant oral legends recounting the origins and early histories of their peoples. On Pohnpei, for example, pre-colonial history is divided into three eras: Mwehin Kawa or Mwehin Aramas (Period of Building, or Period of Peopling, before c. 1100); Mwehin Sau Deleur (Period of the Lord of Deleur, c. 1100 to c. 1628);[note 1] and Mwehin Nahnmwarki (Period of the Nahnmwarki, c. 1628 to c. 1885). Pohnpeian legend recounts that the Saudeleur rulers, the first to bring government to Pohnpei, were of foreign origin. The Saudeleur centralized form of absolute rule is characterized in Pohnpeian legend as becoming increasingly oppressive over several generations. Arbitrary and onerous demands, as well as a reputation for offending Pohnpeian deities, sowed resentment among Pohnpeians. The Saudeleur Dynasty ended with the invasion of Isokelekel, another semi-mythical foreigner, who replaced the Saudeleur rule with the more decentralized nahnmwarki system in existence today.
In mid-1525 a storm carried the Portuguese navigators Diogo da Rocha and Gomes de Sequeira eastward from the Moluccas (via Celebes); they reached several islands of the Carolines and stayed there until January 20, 1526. The Spanish explorers Toribio Alonso de Salazar and Diego de Saavedra arrived on August 22, 1526, sighting the Island of San Bartolomé or Taongui. On 1 January 1528 the discoverer Álvaro de Saavedra took possession of the Ulithi Islands on behalf of the King of Spain. Spanish explorers visited the archipelago in 1542 (Matelotes Islands), 1543, and 1545. In 1565 Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the first Governor-General of the Philippines (in office 1565–1572), passed through.
The islands, known to contemporary Spaniards as Islas de las Hermanas, Hombres Pintados and Los Jardines, dropped out of European consciousness until 1686, when Francisco de Lezcano came to Yap and called the islands Las Carolinas, in honor of King Carlos II of Spain (reigned 1665–1700). The name was extended to include the Palau Islands and the archipelagos which were named the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands by British explorers who visited them a century later, between 1788 and 1799.
The colonization of the Caroline Islands had, as in most of the Spanish colonies, a marked religious character. A royal decree of October 19, 1707 granted authorization for the sending of missionaries in several expeditions to the islands. One such expedition (1731) was made by Father Juan Antonio Cantova, who was killed. As a result, Spain ceased relations with the Caroline Islands until 1787. Relations resumed later, but with a distinctly commercial character.
In 1852 the Spanish colonel Coello suggested to the Spanish government that the effective occupation of the Caroline Islands provided trade advantages between the Philippines and Australia, New Guinea and the Americas, but Spain ignored his suggestions until 1885. In that year, the Spanish representative Butron and the kings of Koror and Artingal signed an act which recognized the sovereignty of the king of Spain on the Carolines. Having secured the territory, Spain attempted to establish custom duties in the region in 1875, but Germany and the United Kingdom protested because Spain's previous abandonment of the islands had allowed the arrival of German and British missions there. A conflict arose, leading to the submission of these facts for arbitration by Pope Leo XIII, who recognized Spanish rights on the islands west of the 164th meridian east; he assigned to Germany the Marshall Islands and the right to maintain a naval station in one of the Caroline Islands, a right that Germany never exercised.
After the Spanish–American War of 1898, Spain sold the Carolines and the Northern Marianas to Germany in the German–Spanish Treaty (1899) for 25 million pesetas or 17 million goldmark (nearly 1,000,000 pounds sterling), while reserving to itself the right to establish a coal mine in the area. Germany governed the archipelago as the Karolinen, administratively associated with German New Guinea.
The islands were a popular resort for whaling ships in the 19th century. The first such vessel known to have visited was the London whaler Britannia which called at Ngatik in December 1793. Such vessels from Britain, the United States, Australia and elsewhere came for water, wood and food and, sometimes, for men willing to serve as crewmen on such vessels. These ships stimulated commerce and were significant vectors for change both good and ill. The islands most commonly visited were Kosrae, Mokil, Ngatik, Pingelap and Pohnpei.
Japan invaded and occupied the islands in 1914, during World War I. This occupation was carried out by two naval squadrons: the Western Carolines under the squadron commanded by Rear Admiral Matsumura Tatsuo (1868–1932), and the Eastern Carolines under Vice-Admiral Yamaya Tanin (1866–1940). In 1920, after the conclusion of World War I, Japan received a League of Nations mandate over the Caroline and Marshall Islands. During World War II, Japan had a large base set up at Truk Lagoon which was used for expansion into the southeastern Pacific. In the latter years of the war, during the Japanese withdrawal to the Japanese home islands, the Allies effectively neutralized Truk in Operation Hailstone. After the war, the islands (together with the Marshall Islands) became trust territories of the United States, with the Federated States of Micronesia gaining independence in 1986, followed by Palau in 1994.
District officers (from 1889, styled Bezirksamtmann):
In the Western Caroline islands (Yap and Palau [and from 1907 Saipan])
Two Jesuits, Juan Antonio Cantova (also known as John Anthony Cantova) and Victor Walter, attempted missionary work there in 1731; the former was soon murdered and the latter obliged to flee. Two other Jesuits were killed later. In 1767 the Jesuits were suppressed in the Spanish dominions, and during the next 120 years there has been no trace of a missionary.
The controversy between Germany and Spain concerning the possession of the Carolines having been settled by Pope Leo XIII in favour of Spain, the king directed Spanish Capuchins to the islands, 15 March 1886, and the Propaganda Fide officially established that mission, 15 May 1886, dividing it into two sections, named West and East Carolines respectively. Until then the islands had belonged ecclesiastically to the Vicariate Apostolic of Micronesia. The Spanish Capuchins had a catechism and prayer book printed in the Ponape dialect, and Father Anthony of Valentia wrote a small grammar and dictionary of the Yap dialect in 1890.
When the Spanish Fathers had laid the foundations of the mission, these islands passed by purchase into the hands of Germany in 1899. Spain had contributed more than $5000 a year towards the mission; Germany granted no support. Spain had compelled the aborigines to send their children to school; Germany gave full liberty in this regard, and the people consequently began to neglect school as well as church. The mission thereby suffered greatly, and the Propaganda Fide finally deemed it advisable to replace the Spanish Capuchins with others of German nationality (7 November 1904) and to erect one Apostolic prefecture instead of the two separate missions (18 December 1905). The Very Reverend Father Venantius of Prechtal, Germany was appointed first prefect Apostolic.
In 1906 twelve fathers and twelve brothers were working in thirteen stations, and several Sisters of St. Francis left Luxembourg to take charge of the ten schools, in which were 262 children. Ninety adult converts were the "harvest" of that year, and the Catholic population is given as 1900 among 11,600 unconverted natives and a few Protestants. The United States Government sent, 1 July 1905, a Jesuit from the Manila Observatory to erect a meteorological station on the island of Yap, of which station the Capuchin Father Callistus was appointed director. The origin of the East-Asiatic typhoons had been traced to these regions, and twice a day observations are made, and notice is frequently given to Manila by cable.
During the period of German control, Germany issued postage stamps for the islands.
The Carolinian reed warbler or Caroline Islands reed warbler (Acrocephalus syrinx) is a species of Old World warbler in the Acrocephalidae family. It is found only on the Caroline Islands in Micronesia.Catholic Church in Palau
The Catholic Church in Palau is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. According to the last census (2000) 41.6% of the population belonged to the Catholic Church. Palau belongs to the Diocese of Caroline Islands, which is itself a suffragan to the Archdiocese of Agaña (Guam).Europeans in Oceania
European exploration and settlement of Oceania began in the 16th century, starting with Portuguese settling the Moluccas and Spanish (Castilian) landings and shipwrecks in the Marianas Islands, east of the Philippines, followed by the Portuguese landing and settling temporarily (due to the monsoons) in the Tanimbar or the Aru Islands and in some of the Caroline Islands and Papua New Guinea, and several Spanish landings in the Caroline Islands and New Guinea. Subsequent rivalry between European colonial powers, trade opportunities and Christian missions drove further European exploration and eventual settlement. After the 17th century Dutch landings in New Zealand and Australia, but not settling these lands, the British became the dominant colonial power in the region, establishing settler colonies in what would become Australia and New Zealand, both of which now have majority European-descended populations. New Caledonia (Caldoche), Hawaii, French Polynesia, Norfolk Island and Guam also have significant European populations. Europeans remain a primary ethnic group in much of Oceania, both numerically and economically.Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia ( (listen); abbreviated FSM and also known simply as Micronesia) is an independent republic associated with the United States. It consists of four states – from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together, the states comprise around 607 islands (a combined land area of approximately 702 km2 or 271 sq mi) that cover a longitudinal distance of almost 2,700 km (1,678 mi) just north of the equator. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and the Marianas, west of Nauru and the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 2,900 km (1,802 mi) north of eastern Australia and some 4,000 km (2,485 mi) southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.
While the FSM's total land area is quite small, it occupies more than 2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi) of the Pacific Ocean, giving the country the 14th largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world. The sovereign island nation's capital is Palikir, located on Pohnpei Island, while the largest city is Weno, located in the Chuuk Atoll.
Each of its four states is centered on one or more main high islands, and all but Kosrae include numerous outlying atolls. The Federated States of Micronesia is spread across part of the Caroline Islands in the wider region of Micronesia, which consists of thousands of small islands divided among several countries. The term Micronesia may refer to the Federated States or to the region as a whole.
The FSM was formerly a part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI), a United Nations Trust Territory under U.S. administration, but it formed its own constitutional government on May 10, 1979, becoming a sovereign state after independence was attained on November 3, 1986 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Other neighboring island entities, and also former members of the TTPI, formulated their own constitutional governments and became the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau (ROP). The FSM has a seat in the United Nations and has been a member of the Pacific Community since 1983.Ficus microcarpa
Ficus microcarpa, also known as Chinese banyan, Malayan banyan, Indian laurel, curtain fig, or gajumaru (ガジュマル), is a tree in the fig family Moraceae. It is native in a range from China through tropical Asia and the Caroline Islands to Australia. It is widely planted as a shade tree and frequently misidentified as F. retusa or as F. nitida (F. benjamina).Island swiftlet
The island swiftlet, also known as the Micronesian swiftlet, or Caroline Islands swiftlet, (Aerodramus inquietus) is a species of swift in the family Apodidae. Some taxonomists consider it to be a subspecies of the uniform swiftlet. It is endemic to the Caroline Islands, and its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.Kosrae
Kosrae (pronunciation: koh-shy), formerly known as Kusaie or Strong's Island, is an island in Federated States of Micronesia. The State of Kosrae is one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia, and includes the main island of Kosrae and a few nearby islands and islets, the most significant of which is inhabited (1,500 people) Lelu Island.
Kosrae's land area is 110 square kilometres (42 square miles), sustaining 6,600 people. Tofol is the state capital. Mt. Finkol is the highest point at 634 metres (2,080 feet).Kosrae International Airport
Kosrae International Airport (IATA: KSA, ICAO: PTSA, FAA LID: TTK) is an airport serving Kosrae, the easternmost state of the Federated States of Micronesia. It is located on an artificial island within the fringing reef about 150 meters from the coast and is connected to the main island by a causeway.
The airport has been continuously served by the United Airlines (formerly Continental Micronesia) Island Hopper service between Guam and Honolulu, which stops twice weekly at Kosrae in each direction. Kosrae is three jogs from both Guam and Honolulu. As of June 2015, Nauru Airlines stops at Kosrae once a week in each direction between Nauru and Chuuk.Micronesia
Micronesia ((UK: , US: ); from Greek: μικρός mikrós "small" and Greek: νῆσος nêsos "island") is a subregion of Oceania, composed of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a shared cultural history with two other island regions: Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the south.
The region has a tropical marine climate and is part of the Oceania ecozone. There are four main archipelagos along with numerous outlying islands.
Micronesia is divided politically among several sovereign countries. One of these is the Federated States of Micronesia, which is often called "Micronesia" for short and is not to be confused with the overall region. The Micronesia region encompasses five sovereign, independent nations—the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Nauru—as well as three U.S. territories in the northern part: Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Wake Island.
Micronesia began to be settled several millennia ago, although there are competing theories about the origin and arrival of the first settlers. The earliest known contact with Europeans occurred in 1521, when Spain reached the Marianas. The coinage of the term "Micronesia" is usually attributed to Jules Dumont d'Urville's usage in 1832; however, Domeny de Rienzi had used the term a year previously.Pohnpei
Pohnpei "upon (pohn) a stone altar (pei)" (formerly known as Ponape or Ascension) is an island of the Senyavin Islands which are part of the larger Caroline Islands group. It belongs to Pohnpei State, one of the four states in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Major population centers on Pohnpei include Palikir, the FSM's capital, and Kolonia, the capital of Pohnpei State. Pohnpei Island is the largest (334 km²), with a highest point (almost 800m), most populous (34,000 people), and most developed single island in the FSM.
Pohnpei also contains a wealth of biodiversity. It is also one of the wettest places on Earth with annual recorded rainfall exceeding 7,600 millimetres (300 in) each year in certain mountainous locations. It is home to the ka tree (Terminalia carolinensis) found only in Pohnpei and Kosrae.Postage stamps and postal history of the Caroline Islands
Early mail sent to and from the Caroline Islands was occasional and dependent on visiting ships.Roman Catholic Diocese of Caroline Islands
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Caroline Islands (Latin: Dioecesis Carolinensium) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Catholic Church in the Federated States of Micronesia and in the Republic of Palau. It is a suffragan diocese of the Ecclesiastical Province of Agaña. The Diocese of Caroline Islands is led by a bishop who pastors the mother church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.Ulithi
Ulithi (Yapese: Wulthiy, Yulthiy, or Wugöy) is an atoll in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean, about 191 km (103 nmi) east of Yap. It consists of 40 islets totalling 4.5 km2 (1.7 sq mi), surrounding a lagoon about 36 km (22 mi) long and up to 24 km (15 mi) wide—at 548 km2 (212 sq mi) one of the largest in the world. It is administered by the state of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. Ulithi's population was 773 in 2000. There are four inhabited islands on Ulithi Atoll. They are Falalop (Ulithian: Fl'aalop), Asor (Yasor), Mogmog (Mwagmwog), and Fedarai (Fedraey). Falalop is the most accessible with an air strip, a small resort hotel, gas dealership, store and one of three public high schools in Yap state. Mogmog is the seat of the high chief of Ulithi Atoll though each island has its own chief. Other important islands are Losiap (Ulithian: L'oosiyep), Sorlen (Sohl'oay), and Potangeras (Potoangroas).
The atoll is in the westernmost of the Caroline Islands, 360 miles (579 km) southwest of Guam, 850 miles (1,368 km) east of the Philippines and 1,300 miles (2,100 km) south of Tokyo. It is a typical volcanic atoll, with a coral reef, white sand beaches and palm trees. Ulithi's forty small islands barely rise above the sea, with the largest being only one-half square mile (1.3 square kilometres) in area. However the reef runs roughly twenty miles (32 kilometres) north and south, by ten miles (16 kilometres) across, enclosing a vast anchorage with an average depth of 80 to 100 feet (24–30 m).
Ulithi was a major staging area for the United States Navy in the final year of the Second World War. Several sunken warships rest at the bottom of the Ulithi lagoon, including USS Mississinewa, a fleet oiler which sank fully loaded. The sunken oiler was found to be seeping oil into the lagoon. The United States Navy responded, locating the oiler, tapping her storage tanks, and pumped off her oil. The cleanup operation was completed in February 2003.
The atoll offers good fishing and diving, though recent typhoons have eroded some of the reefs.
Census records can be misleading because population can fluctuate during the year because it is common for Ulithians to leave for work or school abroad and to return. This is particularly true during festive times like the Outer Island High School graduation ceremony, when the population can increase considerably. Additionally, during events like weddings and funerals, Yasor's population may double.
Electricity is now available on some islands, and the advent of video players and cell phones have brought a touch of the outside world to this very isolated atoll. Occasional diving and adventure tours visit Ulithi from Yap.Wa (watercraft)
Wa are a traditional proa-style sailing outrigger canoe of the Caroline Islands. They have a single outrigger.Weriyeng
Weriyeng (also spelled Warieng) is one of the last two schools of traditional navigation found in the central Caroline Islands in Micronesia, the other being Fanur. By tradition these two schools were considered to be the most high of all the schools of navigation that once dotted the islands of the central Carolines. By tradition the Weriyeng school was founded on the island of Pulap, which is today in the Pattiw region of Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia.
Mau Piailug is one of the most famous navigators of this school. He trained the well-known modern Hawaiian wayfinder Nainoa Thompson.White-fronted ground dove
The white-fronted ground dove, or Caroline Islands ground dove (Alopecoenas kubaryi) is a species of bird in the family Columbidae.
It is endemic to Micronesia.
Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical mangrove forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, and plantations .
It is threatened by habitat loss.Woleai
Woleai, also known as Oleai, is a coral atoll of twenty-two islands in the eastern Caroline Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district in the Yap State in the Federated States of Micronesia and is located approximately 57 kilometres (35 mi) west-northwest of Ifalik and 108 kilometres (67 mi) northeast of Eauripik. Woleai is also the name of the largest of the islets constituting the atoll, lying to the northeast.
The population of the atoll was 1,081 in 2000, on an area of 4.5 km2.Woleai script
The Woleai or Caroline Island script, thought to have been a syllabary, was a partially Latin-based script indigenous to Woleai Atoll and nearby islands of Micronesia and used to write the Woleaian language until the mid 20th century. At the time the script was first noticed by Europeans, Micronesia was known as the Caroline Islands, hence the name Caroline Island script.
The script has 99 known (C)V glyphs, which are not quite enough for a complete representation of the Woleaian language, even given the fact that consonant and vowel length are ignored. Approximately a fifth of them derive from the Latin alphabet. The question for historians is whether the Wolaians had proto-writing which crystallized into full-fledged writing under the influence of the Latin alphabet, or if they were exposed to the Latin alphabet without completely understanding it (see trans-cultural diffusion), and supplemented it either with existing signs from petroglyphs, tattoos, and the like, or by creating new rebus or ad hoc symbols, until it was sufficient to fully express Woleaian.
The script was written from left to right. Since length was ignored, one glyph stood for both ga and ka ([xa] and [kːa), and another for both la and na ([la], [na], and [nːa]). Some glyphs stood for longer syllables than just consonant-plus-vowel, such as bag, warr, tüt, moi, shrö, chroa, gkaa, etc. Not enough glyphs were recorded to write all Woleaian syllables this way, and it is not known if the script was fully standardized.Yap
Yap or Wa′ab (Yapese: Waqab) traditionally refers to an island located in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean, a part of the Federated States of Micronesia. The name "Yap" in recent years has come to also refer to the state within the Federated States of Micronesia, inclusive of the Yap Main Islands and its various outer islands.
The Yap Main Islands are considered to be made up of four separate islands: Yap Island proper (Marbaq), Gagil-Tamil, Maap (Yapese: Maap′), and Rumung. The four are contiguous, though separated by water, and are surrounded by a common coral reef. They are formed from an uplift of the Philippine Sea Plate, and are referred to as "high" islands as opposed to atolls. The land is mostly rolling hills, densely vegetated. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore, although there are beaches on the northern sides of the islands. Excluding the reef area, Yap is approximately 24 km long, 5–10 km wide, and 98 km2. The highest elevation is 178 m (584 ft) at Mount Taabiywol in Fanif municipality on Yap island proper. The Yapese people's indigenous cultures and traditions are strong compared to other states in Micronesia.Colonia is the capital of the State of Yap which includes the Yap Main Islands and the Yap Neighboring Islands—the outer islands (mostly atolls) reaching to the east and south from the Yap Main Islands for some 800 km (500 mi), namely the atolls of Eauripik, Elato, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimarao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai, as well as the islands of Fais and Satawal (see map). Historically, a tributary system existed between the Neighboring Islands and the Yap Main Islands. This probably related to the need for goods from the high islands, including food, as well as wood for construction of seagoing vessels.
In 2000 the population of Colonia and ten other municipalities totalled 11,241. The state has a total land area of 102 km2 (39 sq mi).
Regions of Oceania