Pacific Islands, Trust Territory of the, former UN trust territory administered by the United States, consisting of the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, and Mariana Islands (excluding Guam). The territory included c.2,180 islands and islets spread out over a vast area of the W Pacific Ocean in the region generally known as Micronesia. The islands, which had been acquired by Germany, were seized by Japan in 1914, and in 1922 they were mandated to Japan by the League of Nations. They were occupied by the United States in 1944 during World War II, and administered by the naval government on Guam.
In 1947 the islands were made a territorial trusteeship, and they were placed under the administration of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. In 1962 the administrative center was moved to Saipan. As the result of negotiations for termination of the trusteeship, the Northern Mariana Islands gained U.S. commonwealth status in 1978, and three other self-governing units, under the military protection of the United States, were established: Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. The trusteeship was dissolved in 1990, but Palau remained a trust territory until 1994. See also Caroline Islands.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.