Spanish Period

Following the visits by Spanish vessels in the 1500s, contact with European ships became frequent in the late 18th and early 19th century.







German Period (1885 - 1914)

Germany bought the Marshall Islands off Spain in 1885. It established a small administration, run first as a concession company and later administered directly from Berlin. The main economic development was the expansion of copra industry on the atolls and the commencement of phosphate mining on Nauru.


For publications on the subject matter during the German colonial period (1899-1914)
and for German publications on the topic see the: Digital Library of German Language Sources


Agreement between the Jaluit-Gesellschaft and the Reich 1888
regarding the administration of the Marshall Islands
Declaration between the Governments of Great Britain and the German Empire relating to the
Demarcation of the British and German Spheres of Influence in the Western Pacific, signed at Berlin, April 6, 1886
Declaration between the Governments of Great Britain and the German Empire relating to the
Reciprocal Freedom of Trade and Commerce in the British and German Possessions and Protectorates in the Western Pacific, signed at Berlin, April 10, 1886
1885 Treaty between the Marshallese Chiefs and the German Empire
The item contains the original German and Marshallese text, as well as a translation into English.
German Colonial Documents on the Marshall Islands
Compilation of page images of German colonial documents relating to the Marshall Islands. Includes annual reports.


Centenary of German Annexation of the Carolines
compiled by Dirk H.R. Spennemann
Article describes the 1899 annexation of the Carolines, Palau and Mariana Islands following the purchase of these islands from Spain.




Covers of Colonial Publications.
compiled by Dirk H.R. Spennemann
Collection of cover art of early twentieth century German colonial publications demonstrating nationalistic colonial iconography.
Japanese Period (1914–1945)

Japan acquired the Marshall Islands, with the exception of Nauru, during World War I. It established a larger administration which continued the expansion of the copra industry, but also developed fishing and handicraft. During World War II many atolls were developed into formidable military bases.


Earl Hancock Ellis: A Marine in Micronesia
By Dirk Anthony Ballendorf
From the Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences [PDF file]




U.S. Period

While and Guam Wake Island had been under US control since the Spanish-American War of 1898, the rest of Microneisa came under US influence as a result of the Pacific War. Commencing in 1944 several islands were captured, with remainder coming under US control with the surrender of the Japanese forces in September 1945.


United States Strategic Bombing Survey: Summary Report (Pacific War).
by United States Strategic Bombing Survey. (1946)
Summary of the post- World War II evaluation of the efficiency of United Sattes Bombing Programmes on the Japanese bases in the Pacific, the Phillippines and the Japanese homeland.
Trust Territory Period (1947–1946)

As a result of the post World War II rearrangement of the former Mandates of the League of Nations, Micronesia became a Trust Territory administered by the USA on behalf of the United Nations.

Lessons Learned:
The Micronesian Quest for Independence in the Context of American Imperial History
By Glenn Petersen
From the Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences [PDF file]
Post-Independence (1989—)

Following a plebiscite the population of the Marshall Islands preferred autonomy from the USA. In 1989 the Compact of Free Associaton was signed which gave the Marshalls independence, while ensuring US government funding of many of its programs.



Digital Micronesia-An Electronic Library & Archive is provided free of charge as an advertising-free information service for the world community. It is being maintained by Dirk HR Spennemann, Associate Professor in Cultural Heritage Management, Institute of Land, Water and Society and School of Environmental & Information Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia. The server space and technical support are provided by Charles Sturt University as part of its commitment to regional engagement. Environmental SciencesInformation Sciences

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