1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Los Islands

LOS ISLANDS (Islas de los Idolos), a group of islands off the coast of French Guinea, West Africa, lying south of Sangarea Bay, between 9° 25′ and 9° 31′ N. and 13° 46′ and 13° 51′ W., and about 80 m. N.N.W. of Freetown, Sierra Leone. There are five principal islands: Tamara, Factory, Crawford, White (or Ruma) and Coral. The two largest islands are Tamara and Factory, Tamara, some 8 m. long by 1 to 2 m. broad, being the largest. These two islands lie parallel to each other, Tamara to the west; they form a sort of basin, in the centre of which is the islet of Crawford. The two other islands are to the south. The archipelago is of volcanic formation, Tamara and Factory islands forming part of a ruined crater, with Crawford Island as the cone. The highest point is a knoll, some 450 ft. above sea-level, in Tamara. All the islands are richly clothed with palm trees and flowering underwood. Tamara has a good harbour, and contains the principal settlement. The inhabitants, about 1500, are immigrants of the Baga tribe of Senegambian negroes, whose home is the coast land between the Pongo and Nunez rivers. These are chiefly farmers. The Church of England has a flourishing mission, with a native pastorate. At one time the islands were a great seat of slave-traders and pirates. The latter are supposed to have buried large amounts of treasure in them. In an endeavour to stop the slave trade and piracy, the islands were garrisoned (1812–1813) by British troops, but the unhealthiness of the climate led to their withdrawal. In 1818 Sir Charles McCarthy, governor of Sierra Leone, obtained the cession of the islands to Great Britain from the chiefs of the Baga country, and in 1882 France recognized them to be a British possession. They were then the headquarters of several Sierra Leone traders. By article 6 of the Anglo-French convention of the 8th of April 1904, the islands were ceded to France. They were desired by France because of their geographical position, Konakry, the capital of French Guinea, being built on an islet but 3 m. from Factory Island, and at the mercy of long range artillery planted thereon. The islands derive their name from the sacred images found on them by the early European navigators.

See A. B. Ellis, West African Islands (London, 1885), and the works cited under French Guinea.