German–Spanish Treaty (1899)

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German–Spanish Treaty
German new guinea 1888 1899.png
Borders of German New Guinea before (in blue) and after (in red) the 1899 German-Spanish treaty
TypeBilateral treaty
Signed12 February 1899 (1899-02-12)
Parties
Handover of the Western Carolines on 3 November 1899 Ubergabe Westkarolinen.jpg
Handover of the Western Carolines on 3 November 1899

The German–Spanish Treaty of 1899, (Spanish : Tratado germano-español de 1899; German : Deutsch-Spanischer Vertrag 1899) signed by the German Empire and the Kingdom of Spain, involved Spain selling the vast majority of its remaining Pacific Ocean islands to Germany for 25 million pesetas (equivalent to 17 million Marks).

Contents

History

During the 19th century, the Spanish Empire lost most of its colonies to independence movements. Then came the Spanish–American War in 1898, in which Spain lost most of its remaining colonies. Cuba became independent while the United States took possession of Puerto Rico along with the Philippines and Guam from Spain's Pacific Ocean colonies the Spanish East Indies. This left Spain with only its African possessions of Spanish Sahara, Ifni, and Spanish Guinea, and with about 6,000 tiny, sparsely populated, and not very productive Pacific islands. These latter were both ungovernable, after the loss of the administrative center of Manila, and indefensible, after the destruction of two Spanish fleets in the Spanish–American War. The Spanish government, therefore, decided to sell the remaining islands. Germany lobbied the Spanish government to facilitate the sale of the islands to Germany.

The Spanish Prime Minister Francisco Silvela signed the treaty on February 12, 1899. It transferred the Caroline Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands to Germany, which then placed them under the jurisdiction of German New Guinea. Palau, at the time considered part of the Carolines, was also occupied and during the following years the Germans started up mining there. [1]

In October 1914, during World War I, the Empire of Japan invaded and conquered many of these German possessions. After the war, they became in 1919 the South Seas Mandate of the League of Nations, under control of the Japanese. During and after World War II the United States took control of the former Spanish and German archipelagos in the Pacific.

Still a "Spanish Micronesia"?

It has been asserted that some islands (Kapingamarangi, Nukuoro, Mapia, Rongrik and Ulithi) are still in Spanish possession since they were not transferred to the United States nor to Germany.

The hypothesis appeared on 5 March 1948, when the state lawyer and CSIC researcher Emilio Pastor y Santos wrote a letter claiming that Spain should establish three naval stations in the Carolinas, Marianas and Palaos, following article 3. He suggests Saipan, Yap and Koror. In October, Pastor announces that there are still four islands under Spanish sovereignty, as they were forgotten in the 1899 treaty. In 1950, Pastor publishes the book Territorios de soberanía española en Oceanía, 'Territories of Spanish sovereignty in Oceania'. In 12 January 1949, the question is dealt with in a Council of Ministers, but

...while the subject is not clear, it becomes to wait before dealing with the United States or the friendly powers taking part of the United Nations, since Spain has no contacts with the UN and it would be this organization which would solve the final lot of those Micronesian islands owned by Japan.

[2]

However, a report of 4 January 1949 from the legal advice of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs "estimated that any hypothetical right of Spain over those islands would have been destroyed by the later trust regimes, that were those established after World War I with the transfer of those territories to Japan and, after World War II, with their attribution to the United States". [3]

In 2014, the Spanish government closed any speculation on the issue of Spanish possession in the Pacific with an answer in the Congress to the deputy Jon Iñarritu. According to its interpretation, Spain yielded in 1899 every remaining possession in the Pacific. [3] [4] It added that "those islands were traditionally linked to the Carolinas and it ihas to be understood that , if the latter were yielded, the former were yielded too" [3] and "the Spanish attitude between 1899 and 1948 shows that the intent of Spain by signing the treaty with Germany was to transfer to it all its possessions in the Pacific." [3] It would be inconsistent "that Spain would have wanted to yield the Carolinas, the Palaos and the Marianas, but would have reserved the sovereignity over a few little islands of scarce economic value over which it had never exercised its factual sovereignty", concluding that Spain does not preserve any sovereignty over Pacific islands.

Currently Mapia is under Indonesian sovereignty, Kapingamarangi, Ulithi and Nukuoro under the Federated States of Micronesia and Rongerik is controlled by the Marshall Islands.

Related Research Articles

Federated States of Micronesia Country in the western Pacific

The Federated States of Micronesia is an independent republic associated with the United States. It consists of four states – from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together, the states comprise around 607 islands that cover a longitudinal distance of almost 2,700 km (1,678 mi) just north of the equator. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and the Marianas, west of Nauru and the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 2,900 km (1,802 mi) north of eastern Australia, 3,400 km southeast of Japan, and some 4,000 km (2,485 mi) southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.

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Micronesia Subregion of Oceania

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Pohnpei island in Micronesia

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Outline of Guam Overview of and topical guide to Guam

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Sapwuahfik archipelago

Sapwuahfik, formerly Ngatik, or the Raven Islands is a 110-square-kilometre (42 sq mi) atoll of the Federated States of Micronesia. It is a village and municipality of roughly 430 people on a land area of 1.5 square kilometres (0.58 sq mi) in the state of Pohnpei.

The Ministry of Overseas or Ministry of Overseas Territories was the ministerial department in charge of the direction of Spanish territories between 1863 and 1899. It administered the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Carolinas, Marianas and Palaos.

Mapia Atoll atoll of Indonesia.

Mapia Atoll, historically known as the Freewill Islands or San David, is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It is located in Papua province of Indonesia, approximately 290 kilometers north of the city of Manokwari and 630 kilometers from the islands of Palau. It consists of two main islands, Bras (Berasi) and Pegun (Mapia), the smaller Fanildo, and two minor islands, Bras Kecil and Fanildo Kecil. The islands constitute a part of Supiori Regency, Papua.

References

  1. "Palau profile - timeline". BBC. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  2. "Micronesia Española, Islas españolas en el Pacífico" (in Spanish). Lqt Defensa. 3 March 2012.[ better source needed ]
  3. 1 2 3 4 "El Gobierno zanja toda especulación sobre el mantenimiento de posesiones españolas en el Pacífico" (in Spanish). Europa Press. 20 April 2014.
  4. Manuel P. Villatoro (23 September 2016). "Las islas hispánicas perdidas por todo el mundo: así es el recuerdo de que España fue un imperio" (in Spanish). ABC.

Further reading