Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Caroline Islands

Caroline Islands, a scattered group in the Pacific Ocean, between lat. 3° and 11° N.. and long. 135° and 177° E.; situated to the E. of the Philippines, and to the N. of New Guinea. The Spaniards divide them into Eastern, Western, and Central islands. The Eastern islands are known as the Mulgrave archipelago, and contain two groups. The Western, or Pelew, islands have an area of 346 miles, and are almost surrounded by a coral reef. The soil is fertile, and there is an abundance of fish and turtle in the lagoons. Birds are in great variety, and cattle, sheep, and pigs have been introduced. The Central Carolines, or Carolines proper, consist of about 500 islands, composed of nearly 50 groups. The most important of the islands in this division is that of Yap, which has a good harbour.

Inhabitants. The bulk of the inhabitants are Indonesians, closely allied to the eastern Polynesians, but considerably modified by crossings with intruders from China, Japan, and the Philippine Islands, and probably also with a primitive Papuan element absorbed by the early Polynesian settlers. Hence a marked diversity of appearance, and especially of colour - fair in the west like the Tagals of the Philippines, coppery-red in the central group, almost black, like the Papuans in the east. Here the Ualan islanders are not only black, but have also crisp hair, an almost certain evidence of Papuan blood. On the other hand, the natives of Nukanor and Satoan are direct descendants of the Samoans, as shown both by their physique, language, and customs. They are generally a mild, friendly, industrious, and peaceful people, skilful boat-builders, and daring navigators, making, by the observation of the stars, voyages of great length in their apparently frail outriggers. The climate dispenses with much clothing, and their food consists chiefly of fish and vegetables, such as taro, the bread-fruit, and sweet potato. The eastern groups have been evangelised by American missionaries since 1849; but elsewhere the natives are still pagans, the dominant religion being Animism (q.v.), associated with the worship of trees, mountains, ancestry, and all moving things. In Ponape are some cyclopean prehistoric structures, thick walls built of huge basalt columns from 25 to 35 ft. long; still more remarkable are the monuments in Ualan, including ramparts 20 ft. high and 12 and 13 ft. thick, formed of immense basalt blocks, which must have been brought from great distances. No satisfactory theory has been proposed as to the origin of these structures, which were certainly not erected by the present inhabitants. Since their contact with Europeans, the natives, like other Polynesians, are everywhere dying out, except in Nukunor (Mortlake group). Formerly over 100,000, the population is at present estimated at scarcely more than 30,000 in the Carolines proper, and 12,000 in the Pelew group.