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Caroline Islands

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED German Colonial type overprinted 12 October 1899.


1899-1914, German (mark).
1914-1945, Japanese (yen).
1945 onwards, American (dollar).

Group of islands in the Pacific north of New Guinea including, among many others, Yap, Truk and Ponape. Palau (q.v.), administratively the most westerly of the group, is ethnically different. Islands first discovered by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century and named after Charles II of Spain in 1686. Attempts in the 18th century to establish the Roman Catholic church there failed, but Spain maintained its claim to the group until 1875, when Britain protested because of its sphere of influence. Spain allowed its claim to lapse until the Germans occupied some of the islands in 1885. The resulting dispute was referred to the Pope, who awarded sovereignty to Spain, but with commercial concessions for Germany and Britain. The inhabitants did not accept European control and, during the 1890s, frequently attacked the Spanish garrison. The islands were ceded to Germany in June 1899 and the Spanish left in December that year.

Germany remained in control until invasion by Japan in October 1914. After the war it remained as a Japanese mandate until the end of World War II, when the group was handed over to the United Nations. In July 1947 the USA took over trusteeship for the UN and the islands achieved independence as Micronesia in 1983.

Postal History
All early covers were dependent on occasional vessels that visited the islands. No stamps were issued during the Spanish period and, although some Spanish military marks may exist, no postmark was issued.

Germany established a number of mail routes in the Pacific and, by the end of 1900, Yap and Ponape were on a regular route from German New Guinea to Hong Kong that connected with the European mail. Initially subsidized by the government as Reich Mail Steamer Lines, they were superseded in 1902 by a service operated by the Jaluit Company from the Marshall Islands (q.v.).

During 1905 and 1910 stamps of the Carolines were bisected owing to local shortages. That of 1905 was caused by a typhoon in which all 5 pfennig stamps were destroyed. From German surrender in 1914 until the end of World. War II Japanese stamps were used; replaced by USA stamps in 1946.

Philatelically, the group began to break up in 1983, when Palau issued its first stamps. Stamps for the new state of Micronesia were issued in 1984.




1984, US dollar.

Name given to Caroline Islands when they became independent in 1983.

Federated States of Micronesia

FIRST STAMPS under Caroline Islands.



As the USA

Comprises more than 600 islands extending 1.800 miles across the Caroline Islands. Originally part of the Spanish Empire which sold the islands to the Germany after the Spanish-American War of 1898-99. The Carolines were lost by German during the First World War when the Japanese took control. After the war the area became a Japanese mandate. The Japanese lost control of the area as a result of the Second World War and after agreement with the United Nations, the Americans took over the administration of the area. On 3 November 1986, the USA recognised the Federated States of Micronesia as a fully sovereign and independent state. This was recognised by the United nations in December 1990.

Postal History
The main interest lies in the period under Spanish and German control, (see under the Caroline Islands). After the Second World War the area was under American control and American adhesives were used. These can only be recognised by the postmarks.

North Pacific to 1919 (incl. Hawaiian Is.)
Click map for larger view

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