Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) was a United Nations trust territory in Micronesia administered by the United States from 1947 to 1994.

Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

Seal of Pacific Islands
Location of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in the Pacific
Location of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in the Pacific
StatusUnited Nations Trust Territory under the administration of the United States
Common languagesEnglish (official)
Micronesian languages
GovernmentTrust Territory
Chief of State 
• 1947–1953 (first)
Harry S. Truman
• 1993–1994 (last)
Bill Clintona
High Commissioner 
• 1947–1948 (first)
Louis E. Denfeld
• 1981–1987 (last)
Janet J. McCoyb
Historical eraCold War
• Trusteeship
July 18, 1947
• Termination of administration (Marshall Islands)
October 21, 1986
• Termination of administration (others)
November 3, 1986
• Free Association and De jure independence of Palau
October 1, 1994
19801,779 km2 (687 sq mi)
• 1980
CurrencyUnited States dollar
Preceded by
Succeeded by
South Pacific Mandate
Marshall Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Northern Mariana Islands
  1. Clinton was President when Palau's Compact of Free Association took effect. Ronald Reagan was President when the RMI, FSM, and CNMI's final status took effect.
  2. McCoy retired as High Commissioner in 1987. As Palau was still a part of the TTPI, it was administered by officials in the Office of Territorial and International Affairs until 1994.
Map of the TTPI from 1961


TTPI UN Mission 1978
Arrival of UN Visiting Mission, Majuro, 1978. The sign reads "Please release us from the bondage of your trusteeship agreement."

Spain initially claimed the islands that later comprised the territory of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI).[1] Subsequently, Germany established competing claims over the islands.[1] The competing claims were eventually resolved in favor of Germany when Spain, following its loss of several possessions to the United States during the Spanish–American War, ceded its claims over the islands to Germany in 1899 pursuant to the German–Spanish Treaty (1899).[1] Germany, in turn, continued to retain possession until the islands were captured by Japan during World War I.[1] The League of Nations formally placed the islands in the former South Pacific Mandate, a mandate that authorized Japanese administration of the islands.[1] The islands then remained under Japanese control until captured by the United States in 1944 during World War II.[1]

The TTPI entered UN trusteeship pursuant to Security Council Resolution 21 on July 18, 1947, and was designated a "strategic area" in its 1947 trusteeship agreement. Article 83 of the UN Charter provided that, as such, its formal status as a UN trust territory could be terminated only by the Security Council, and not by the General Assembly as with other trust territories. The United States Navy controlled the TTPI from a headquarters in Guam until 1951, when the United States Department of the Interior took over control, administering the territory from a base in Saipan.[2]

The Territory contained 100,000 people scattered over a water area the size of continental United States. It was subdivided into six districts, and represented a variety of cultures, with nine spoken languages. The Ponapeans and Kusaieans, Marshallese and Palauans, Trukese, Yapese and Chamorros had little in common, except they were in the same general area of the Pacific Ocean.[3]

The large distances between people, lack of an economy, language and cultural barriers, all worked against the union. The six district centers became upscale slums, containing deteriorated Japanese-built roads, with electricity, modern music and distractions, which led to alienated youth and elders. The remainder of the islands maintained their traditional way of life and infrastructure.[3]

A Congress of Micronesia first levied an income tax in 1971. It affected mainly foreigners working at military bases in the region.[4]

On October 21, 1986, the U.S. ended its administration of the Marshall Islands District.[5] The termination of U.S. administration of the Chuuk, Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and the Mariana Islands districts of the TTPI soon followed on November 3, 1986.[6][7] The Security Council formally ended the trusteeship for the Chuuk, Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Mariana Islands, and Marshall Islands districts on December 22, 1990 pursuant to Security Council Resolution 683.[8] On May 25, 1994, the Council ended the trusteeship for the Palau District pursuant to Security Council Resolution 956, after which the U.S. and Palau agreed to establish the latter's independence on October 1.[9][10]


In 1969, the 100 occupied islands comprised 700 square miles (1,800 km2) over an area of 3,000,000 square miles (7,800,000 km2) of sea. The latter area was comparable in size to the continental United States.[11] The water area is about 2% of the Pacific Ocean.


The population of the islands was 200,000 in the latter part of the 19th century. The population decreased to 100,000 by 1969 due to emigration, war, and disease. At that time, the population inhabited less than 100 out of 2,141 of the Marshall, Mariana, and Caroline Islands.[11]


In 1947 the Mariana Islands' Teacher Training School (MITTS), a normal school serving all areas of the Trust Territory, opened in Guam.[12] It moved to Chuuk in 1948,[13] to be more central in the Trust Territory,[12] and was renamed Pacific Islands' Teacher Training School (PITTS).[13] It transitioned from being a normal school to a comprehensive secondary school, so it was renamed the Pacific Islands Central School (PICS). The school moved to Pohnpei in 1959.[12] At the time it was a three-year institution housing students who graduated from intermediate schools.[14] The school, later known as Pohnpei Island Central School (PICS),[15] is now Bailey Olter High School.[16]

Palau Intermediate School, established in 1946, became Palau High School in 1962 as it added senior high grades.[17] From the late 1960s to the middle of the 1970s, several public high schools were built and/or received additions in the Trust Territory. They included Jaluit High School, Kosrae High School, Marshall Islands High School in Majuro, Palau High, PICS, and Truk High School (now Chuuk High School). The Micronesian Occupational College in Koror, Palau was also built.[18] It later merged with the Kolonia-based Community College of Micronesia, which began operations in 1969, into the College of Micronesia-FSM in 1976.[19]

Current status

The former area is now (2019) divided into four jurisdictions:

Sovereign states in free association with the United States

The following sovereign states have become freely associated with the United States under the Compact of Free Association (COFA).

Commonwealth in political union with the United States

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Encyclopædia Britannica: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
  2. ^ "Trust Territory of the Pacific Archives Photos – University of Hawaii". University of Hawaii at Manoa Hamilton Library.
  3. ^ a b Kluge, P. F. (December 1971). "Micronesia: America's Troubled Island Ward". Readers Digest from the Beacon Magazine of Hawaii. Pleasantville, NY. p. 161.
  4. ^ Glenn B. Martineau (September 1976). "Micronesia's Simplified Income Tax System". American Bar Association Journal. p. 1176–1178.
  5. ^ "Marshall Islands (07/00)". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on April 27, 2019. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  6. ^ "Background Notes: Micronesia 6/96". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  7. ^ Reagan, Ronald. "Proclamation 5564 of November 3,1986" (PDF). Government Publishing Office.
  8. ^ "Resolution 683 (1990)" (PDF). United Nations Security Council. December 22, 1990.
  9. ^ "[USC04] 48 USC 1931: Approval of Compact of Free Association: Article VII". United States House. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  10. ^ "Trusteeship Council formally suspends operation: Palau admitted to UN". UN Chronicle. March 1995.
  11. ^ a b "Remembering an adopted cousin". Time. New York City. May 23, 1969. p. 28.
  12. ^ a b c Wuerch, William L. and Dirk Anthony Ballendorf. Historical Dictionary of Guam and Micronesia, 1994. ISBN 0810828588, 9780810828582. p.91.
  13. ^ a b Goetzfridt, Nicholas J. and Karen M. Peacock. Micronesian Histories: An Analytical Bibliography and Guide to Interpretations'. p. 190.
  14. ^ Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of United Nations Political Affairs, 1961. p. 137. "The Pacific Islands Central School is the only public senior secondary school of the Territory. Students selected for further training following graduation from the district intermediate schools may go to the Pacific Islands Central School for 3 additional years of education."
  15. ^ "TITLE: Pohnpei Island Central School : (papers, articles, etc.)."
  16. ^ "Higher Education in the Federated States of Micronesia." Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia Washington DC. Retrieved on February 23, 2018. "Bailey Olter High School (former PICS) P.O. Box 250 Kolonia, Pohnpei FM 96941"
  17. ^ "About." Palau High School. Retrieved on February 22, 2018.
  18. ^ Compact of Free Association in the Micronesian States of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands: Environmental Impact Statement. United States Department of State, 1984. p. 36. "From the late 1960s to mid-1970s the major high school complexes throughout the Trust Territory were constructed: notably,[...]additions to the Ponape High School[...]"
  19. ^ Thomas, R. Murray. "The U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Micronesia)" (Chapter 3). In: Thomas, R. Murray and T. Neville Postlethwaite (editors). Schooling in the Pacific Islands: Colonies in Transition . Elsevier, January 26, 2016. ISBN 1483148556, 9781483148557. Start: 67. CITED: p. 91.
  20. ^ "Northern Mariana Islands". CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. March 27, 2014. Retrieved April 5, 2014.

External links

Media related to Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 10°30′N 152°00′E / 10.500°N 152.000°E

1975 Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands status referendum

A referendum on the future status of the islands was held in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands on 8 July 1975. Voters were offered six options:



Free Association


To retain the current status

Another statusIn Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap (later to become the Federated States of Micronesia) option one (independence) received the highest number of votes in favour (59.1%), whilst Free Association (58.0%) and the present status (59.0%) also received majorities in favour. Voter turnout was 52.6%. In the Marshall Islands option five was the only option to be approved, with 77% voting in favour, although voter turnout was only 35.2%. In Palau only options three (68% in favour) and five (78% in favour) were approved.

1978 Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands constitutional referendum

A referendum on the proposed constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia was held on 12 July 1978. It was approved in Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap, who formed the Federation on 10 May the following year. In the Marshall Islands and Palau it was rejected, resulting in the islands becoming separate states.

Athletics at the Micronesian Games

Athletics competitions have been held at the quadrennial Micronesian Games, that are open for the 10 member federations of the Micronesian Games Council, since the inaugural edition 1969 in Saipan, then Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (now Northern Mariana Islands).

Cannabis in Palau

Cannabis in Palau is illegal, but reports indicate the drug is widely produced and consumed on the island nation. Palau is a former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands of the United States which gained independence in 1994, and has a population under 20,000.

Reports by the World Health Organization and UNODC have been called into question for the accuracy of their claims that Palau has the highest cannabis usage rates in the world. Despite controversy over the numbers, usage appears high, and a 2005 academic paper states the Palau police ignore public consumption.

Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia

The Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia has 14 non-partisan members: 10 members elected for a two-year term in 10 single-seat constituencies and 4 members elected for a four-year term, one from every state 'at large'.

Congress of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

The Congress of Micronesia was a bicameral legislature in Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands from 1964 to 1979.

It was established as the legislative body in Micronesia on 28 September 1964, when the US Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, issued order no. 2882. There was previously Territorial Advisory Council, created by the High Commissioner Delmas H. Nucker in 1956, which could be considered a predecessor of the Congress of Micronesia.There were three elections for the members of the Congress of Micronesia during its lifetime.

Elbert D. Thomas

Elbert Duncan Thomas (June 17, 1883 – February 11, 1953) was a Democratic Party politician from Utah. He represented Utah in the United States Senate from 1933 until 1951.

Flag of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

The flag of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) consisted of a light blue field that contained six white stars centered in a circle pattern. The stars symbolized the six districts of the former trusteeship: the Marianas, the Marshall Islands, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei (including Kosrae), and Palau. The blue field symbolized freedom and loyalty.

The flag was the end product of a contest that was won by Gonzalo Santos, a government employee who lived in the Yap district. For his efforts, he won US$250. The Santos design was approved by the Council of Micronesia (an unofficial body) on October 3, 1962, and was first used on October 24. The flag was reapproved by the TTPI High Commissioner and the Congress of Micronesia in July 1965. The flag became official on August 19, 1965.

Before this time, the United States and United Nations flags were used in the trusteeship.

The flag was used until the 1970s and early 1980s. By this time, each district of the TTPI had adopted its own unique flag.

Governor of Kosrae

The office of the Governor of Kosrae is the highest position in the state of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia.

History of the office holders follows

High Commissioner of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

The High Commissioner of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was an official who ruled the American Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, a United Nations trusteeship in the Pacific Ocean under the administration of the United States, between 1947 and 1994. The territory consisted of islands captured by America during World War II, prior to which they had been part of the Empire of Japan as the South Pacific Mandate. After World War II, the United Nations placed the territory under the United States trusteeship as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The islands are now part of Palau, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Marshall Islands.

Majuro Cooperative School

Majuro Cooperative International School (Co-op) is a PreK-12 private school in Majuro, Marshall Islands. It is a non-religious school. It is in the atoll's southeast.

It was established in 1975.

Music of the Marshall Islands

The music of the Marshall Islands has a long history. The Marshall Islands are an independent island chain, geographically and culturally part of the Micronesian area. It was part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, governed by the United States, until independence in 1986.

The roro is a kind of traditional chant, usually about ancient legends and performed to give guidance during navigation and strength for mothers in labour. Modern bands have blended the unique songs of each island in the country with modern music.

Though drums are not generally common in Micronesian music, one-sided hourglass-shaped drums are a major part of Marshallese music [1].

The national anthem of the Marshall Islands is "Forever Marshall Islands", by Amata Kabua.


Palau ( (listen), historically Belau, Palaos, or Pelew), officially the Republic of Palau (Palauan: Beluu er a Belau), is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. The country contains approximately 340 islands, forming the western chain of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia, and has an area of 466 square kilometers (180 sq mi). The most populous island is Koror. The capital Ngerulmud is located on the nearby island of Babeldaob, in Melekeok State. Palau shares maritime boundaries with the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

The country was originally settled approximately 3,000 years ago by migrants from Insular Southeast Asia. The islands were first explored by Europeans in the 16th century, and were made part of the Spanish East Indies in 1574. Following Spain's defeat in the Spanish–American War in 1898, the islands were sold to Imperial Germany in 1899 under the terms of the German–Spanish Treaty, where they were administered as part of German New Guinea.After World War I the islands were made a part of the Japanese-ruled South Pacific Mandate by the League of Nations. During World War II, skirmishes, including the major Battle of Peleliu, were fought between American and Japanese troops as part of the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign. Along with other Pacific Islands, Palau was made a part of the United States-governed Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in 1947. Having voted against joining the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979, the islands gained full sovereignty in 1994 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

Politically, Palau is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, which provides defense, funding, and access to social services. Legislative power is concentrated in the bicameral Palau National Congress. Palau's economy is based mainly on tourism, subsistence agriculture and fishing, with a significant portion of gross national product (GNP) derived from foreign aid. The country uses the United States dollar as its currency. The islands' culture mixes Micronesian, Melanesian, Asian, and Western elements. Ethnic Palauans, the majority of the population, are of mixed Micronesian, Melanesian, and Austronesian descent. A smaller proportion of the population is descended from Japanese. The country's two official languages are Palauan (a member of the Austronesian language family) and English, with Japanese, Sonsorolese, and Tobian recognized as regional languages.

Palau High School

Palau High School (PHS) is a senior high school in Koror City, Palau. It is the country's only public high school, and the first high school established in Palau. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits the school.It opened as Palau Intermediate School in 1946. It previously was only for grades 6-9, but it was renamed and became a high school in 1962.Its current building was built between the late 1960s to the middle of the 1970s, a period when several other public high schools were built in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Peter Tali Coleman

Peter Tali Coleman (December 8, 1919 – April 28, 1997) was the first person of Samoan descent to be appointed Governor of American Samoa and later became the territory's first popularly elected governor. A member of the Republican Party, he is the only U.S. governor whose service spanned five decades (1956–1961, 1978–1985 and 1989–1993) and one of the longest-serving governors of any jurisdiction in American history.

South Pacific Mandate

The South Pacific Mandate was a League of Nations mandate given to the Empire of Japan by the League of Nations following World War I. The South Pacific Mandate consisted of islands in the north Pacific Ocean that had been part of German New Guinea within the German colonial empire until they were occupied by Japan during World War I. Japan governed the islands under the mandate as part of the Japanese colonial empire until World War II, when the United States captured the islands. The islands then became the United Nations-established Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands governed by the United States. The islands are now part of Palau, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Marshall Islands.In Japan, the territory is known as "Japanese mandate for the South Seas Islands" (日本委任統治領南洋群島, Nihon Inin Tōchi-ryō Nan'yō Guntō) and was governed by the Nan'yō Government (南洋庁, Nan'yō Chō).

Title 48 of the United States Code

Title 48 of the United States Code outlines the role of United States territories and insular areas in the United States Code.

Chapter 1: Bureau of Insular Affairs

Chapter 2: Alaska

Chapter 3: Hawaii

Chapter 4: Puerto Rico

Chapter 5: Philippine Islands

Chapter 6: Panama Canal Zone

Chapter 7: Virgin Islands

Chapter 8: Guano Islands

Chapter 8a: Guam

Chapter 9: Samoa, Tutuila, Manua, Swains Island, and Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

Chapter 10: Territorial Provisions of a General Nature

Chapter 11: Alien Owners of Land

Chapter 12: Virgin Islands

Chapter 13: Eastern Samoa

Chapter 14: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands

Chapter 15: Conveyance of Submerged Lands to Territories

Chapter 16: Delegates to Congress

Chapter 17: Northern Mariana Islands

Chapter 18: Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau

Chapter 19: Pacific Policy Reports

Chapter 20: PROMESA

USS Fentress (AK-180)

USS Fentress (AK-180/T-AK-180) was an Alamosa-class cargo ship acquired by the US Navy during the final months of World War II. In 1950, she was reactivated and placed into service with the Military Sea Transportation Service as USNS Fentress. She was ultimately transferred to the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Xavier High School, Micronesia

Xavier High School is a Jesuit coeducational high school located on the island of Weno in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. It was established in 1952. It was the first high school in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Bishop Thomas Feeney, S.J., D.D. from the New York Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) originally envisioned a minor seminary to train local clergy. Soon after, Xavier Seminary became the first college preparatory school in the Western Pacific.

Today, Xavier High School continues to provide a college preparatory education as a Catholic school in the Jesuit tradition, serving the different island-nations of Micronesia. In 2014 Xavier produced four Gates scholars; the first recipient of the Ushiba Scholarship to Sophia University in Japan; and an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

United States articles

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