The New International Encyclopædia/Ladrone Islands

3123934The New International Encyclopædia — Ladrone Islands

LADRONE (lȧ-drōn′, Sp. pron. lȧ-drō′nā̇) ISLANDS, Mariana or Marianne Islands. A group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, belonging, with the exception of Guam (q.v.), the southernmost and largest, to Germany (Map: Australasia, G 1). They are situated between latitudes 13° and 21° North, and between longitudes 144° and 146° East, about 1500 miles east of the Philippines. They are disposed in a row from north to south; their number is about sixteen, of which eight, including Guam, are inhabited; their aggregate area is about 430 square miles. The largest islands, next to Guam, are Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, all in the southern part of the group, those in the north being only small volcanic islets, and all of them mountainous. The climate is humid, but moderately warm and not unhealthful. The cocoanut and breadfruit trees are indigenous, but rice, sugar, maize, coffee, tobacco, and indigo are cultivated. The native fauna is very poor, including no mammals except a few rats and bats, and hardly any reptiles or insects. All the domestic animals of Europe, however, have been imported and thrive there. The aboriginal inhabitants consisted of Chamorros, a tribe of Micronesians who were in possession of considerable culture, as is shown by the remains of ancient temples found in the island of Tinian. They decreased rapidly after the Spanish occupation, and Tagalogs were imported from the Philippines, who mixed with and almost supplanted the earlier race. In 1898 the population of the islands numbered 1938, exclusive of Guam, whose population is about 9000. They were discovered in 1521 by Magellan, who named them Ladrones (Sp., ‘robbers’) on account of the thieving propensities of the inhabitants. They were settled in 1667 by Spanish Jesuit missionaries, who called them the Mariana Islands. As a result of the Spanish-American War, the island of Guam was ceded to the United States in 1898, and the remaining islands, together with the Carolines, were sold to Germany in 1899 for 25,000,000 pesetas ($4,875,000). The Ladrones form a division of the German New Guinea Protectorate; the seat of administration is on the island of Saipan.