The New Student's Reference Work/Ladrones


Ladrones (la-drōnz′) or Mariana, Pelew or Caroline Islands, formerly a Spanish possession, are 15 small islands in the northern Pacific with a total area of about 420 square miles.  They now constitute part of the German New Guinea protectorate.  The group lies between the Philippines and the Marshall Islands north of German New Guinea.  Their population is about 36,000.  They were discovered by Magellan in 1521, his sailors calling them Ladrones or Thieves’ Islands on account of the thieving propensities of their inhabitants.  In 1668 they received the name of Mariana Islands.  At the time of discovery the natives numbered 60,000; but now the inhabitants, Chamoros, Tagals and mixed Spanish, do not exceed 8,700.  The islands are divided into two groups by a channel, the southern five being low and marshy and the northern ones well wooded, high and mountainous.  Almost all are well-watered, woody and fertile.  The largest island, Guam (area 198 square miles and population 12,240), was ceded to the United States in 1898.  The remainder of group were purchased by Germany in 1899.