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United States, and “the north or other suitable portion” was reserved for a lighthouse. The lighthouse, which works automatically, is at the latitude and longitude given.

Roncador Cay, latitude 13° 34' 30" N., longitude 80°04' W., rises about 12 feet above the water. It is about a quarter of a mile long and is at the north end of a series of small cays. By presidential proclamation of June 5, 1919, it was declared to be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States and was reserved as a site for a lighthouse.

Serrana Bank, latitude 14° 17' N., longitude 80° 24' W., comprises three low islands, the largest of which, the southwest cay, is about half a mile long and has an extreme height of about 30 feet. This cay was declared by presidential proclamation of February 25, 1919, to be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States and was reserved for a lighthouse, which is in the position above given.

The Colombian Government, prior to 1928, disputed the claims of the United States to Serrana and Quita Sueño Banks and the Roncador Cay, but by agreement dated April 10, 1928, between the Secretary of State and the Colombian minister in Washington, it was decided to maintain the status quo, the United States to use the islands for maintenance of aids to navigation and Colombia to have fishing rights in the adjacent waters.

The Swan Islands are in latitude 17° 25' N., longitude 83° 55' W. The western island, Great Swan Island, is about 2 miles long, the eastern island about 112 miles; each is about half a mile in breadth. A radio station and lighthouse are on Great Swan. In Opinions of the Attorney General, volume 34, there is a brief history of these islands and it is stated (p. 515) that The dominion of the United States Government was extended over the Swan * * February 11, 1863.

The sovereignty of the United States attached to these islands as of that date.

Honduras also claims sovereignty over the Swan Islands.

Swains Island, also called Gente Hermosa, and Quiros, latitude 11° 03' S., longitude 171° 05' W., is about 4 miles in circumference and 20 feet high; its area, including a central lagoon of one-third square mile, is 11/3 square miles. It was discovered by Quiros in 1606 and named by him La Peregrina, but the position then given for it was so much in error as to lead an American whaling captain named Swain to assume the right of discovery upon landing there. It was examined in 1840 by the United States exploring expedition under Wilkes and renamed Swains Island. In 1856 and for many years thereafter it was occupied by an American family named Jennings, engaged in raising coconuts. An official communication regarding this island from the British Government, dated January 30, 1918,




stated that it was understood that the island in question is United States territory."

A joint resolution of Congress approved March 4, 1925,48 asserted sovereignty of the United States over this island and made it a part of American Samoa. (See pp. 49–50.)

The ownership of some of the guano islands is uncertain. Several of them have been claimed by Great Britain, without formal protest by the United States, except that in the case of Christmas Island (latitude 1° 57' N., longitude 157° 28' W.) the Secretary of State, in a letter dated April 30, 1888, said that the United States reserved all questions that might grow out of the occupation.**




By agreements signed by the Presidents of the United States and Cuba, in February, 1903, Cuba agreed to lease or sell coaling or naval stations to the United States, in accordance with a clause in the constitution of the Republic of Cuba. The lease of about 30 square miles of land and water on Guantanamo Bay, near Santiago, and of a small area at Bahia Honda, on the northwest coast, was signed July 2, 1903, the United States agreeing to pay $2,000 a year rental for the two areas. 46 The land boundaries of the area on Guantanamo Bay are thus described in the agreement:

From a point on the south coast 4.37 nautical miles to the eastward of Windward Point Lighthouse, a line running north (true) a distance of 4.25 nautical miles;

From the northern extremity of this line, a line running west (true) a distance of 5.87 nautical miles ;

From the western extremity of this last line, a line running southwest (true) 3.31 nautical miles;

From the southwestern extremity of this last line, a line running south (true) to the seacoast.

The outlines of this area are shown on United States Hydrographic Office Chart 1857.

No use has yet been made of the Bahia Honda area by the United States.

48 43 Stat. L. 1357.

4 Letter from the Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, U. S. Navy Department, Sept. 12, 1919.

45 Malloy, W. M., op. cit., vol. 1, p. 358.

46 Idem, p. 361. Cong. Record, March 12, 1925, p. 184, states tha an advance payment of $102,000 on this account had been made to enable Cuba to purchase privately owned land within the area, See 68th Cong., 2d sess., S. Doc. 166, p. 310, 1924, for agreement requiring this action,



The Isle of Pines, covering an area of 1,080 square miles, 35 miles southwest of Cuba, was for many years after the Spanish war considered United States territory.

A treaty between Cuba and the United States which would confirm the title was concluded in 1903, but after more than 20 years' delay was rejected by the United States Senate. This island is therefore under the sovereignty of Cuba.



A convention between the United States and Nicaragua signed August 5, 1914, and proclaimed June 24, 1916,49 provided for the leasing to the United States for 99 years of the Great and Little Corn Islands and of a site for a naval base at a place to be selected bordering on the Gulf of Fonseca, with the privilege of renewing the lease. Great Corn Island is in latitude 12° 10' N., longitude 83° 05' W. It is about 21/2 miles in length by 2 miles in width; the highest point is 370 feet above sea level. Little Corn Island is about 7 miles to the northeast and has an area of about 1 square mile; its highest point is 50 feet above sea level.

By the same convention the United States acquired the perpetual right to construct and maintain a ship canal between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean by way of Lake Nicaragua. These concessions cost the United States $3,000,000. Sovereignty over these islands and those along the Mosquito Coast was in dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua prior to 1928, but in that year a treaty was concluded which, when ratified by legislative action of the two nations, will confirm Nicaragua's claim.



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By Article VI of a treaty between the United States and the King of Tonga, signed October 2, 1886, the King of Tonga agreed to secure to the Government of the United States by lease at nominal rent

use of necessary ground in any harbor of the Tonga Islands which shall be mutually agreed upon for the purpose of establishing a permanent coaling and repair station.

Ground thus acquired was to remain under Tongan sovereignty. Article XIV specified that this agreement regarding a coaling and repair station could be abrogated only by mutual consent.50 So far as can be ascertained no use has yet been made by the United States of the privilege thus acquired.

47 See Malloy, W. M., op. cit., vol. 1, p. 364. 48 59th Cong., 1st sess., S. Doc. 205, 1906, describes this island in great detail. 49 39 Stat. L., vol. 2, p. 1661. 60 Malloy, W. M., op. cit., vol. 2, p. 1781.

This treaty was denounced by Great Britain on behalf of the King of Tonga in 1919, but by note dated March 3, 1921, the United States reaffirmed its rights under Article VI.

The Tonga Islands are in latitude 21° S., longitude 175o W.


Although the United States does not own the island of Yap, it has important treaty rights there. The island is of volcanic origin and is in latitude 9° 30' N., longitude 138° 10' E. Including adjacent coral reefs, it is about 35 by 41,2 miles in extreme dimensions, and its area is about 80 square miles. Its highest point is 1,050 feet above sea level. It was formerly, a German possession and is now a Japanese mandate.

By treaty with Japan, ratified by the United States Senate March 1, 1922, the United States acquired free access to the island of Yap on a footing of entire equality with Japan

in all that relates to the existing Yap-Guam cable or of any cable which may hereafter be laid or operated by the United States or its nationals connecting with the island of Yap. The United States and its nationals

have the right to acquire and hold all kinds of property and interests,

including lands, buildings

No permit or license shall be required for landing or operating cables. Freedom of entry and exit is granted.

No taxes, port, harbor, or landing charges or exactions of any nature whatsoever shall be levied either with respect to the operation of cables or radio stations, or with respect to property, persons, or vessels.









Wrangell Island is in the Arctic Ocean, about 100 miles from the Siberian coast. A harbor in the southeastern part is in latitude 70° 57' N. and longitude 178° 10' W. The island is about 80 miles long and 30 miles wide; its highest point is 2,500 feet above sea level. It was sighted in 1867 by the captain of a United States sailing vessel. In 1881 officers from United States naval vessels landed on the island and claimed it for the United States, 51 According to newspaper reports of October 4, 1926, the Soviet Government had landed a colony of 50 persons on this island, hoisted the Russian flag, and claimed it for that country. An airplane survey is said to have been made and the area found to be 2,925 square miles.

61 See Arctic Pilot, vol. 1, p. 338, 1917; U. S. Geol. Survey Bull. 299, p. 682, 1906; U. S. Hydrographic Office Chart 906; and Problems of polar research, p. 241, New York, Am. Geog. Soc., 1928.


Bennett, Henrietta, and Jeannette Islands were discovered by the DeLong polar expedition and claimed for the United States in 1881, but were only partly explored.

Bennett, the largest of the three, is about 300 miles from the mainland of Siberia, in latitude 76° 38' N., approximate longitude 149° E. This island probably has an area of several hundred square miles, possibly more than 1,000, and altitudes above sea level of 300 feet or more.

Henrietta Island is in latitude 77° 8' N., longitude 157° 45' E., and Jeannette Island in latitude 76° 47' N., longitude 158° 56' E.; each has an area of approximately 50 square miles and an altitude of more than 500 feet.52


There have thus far been no formal international agreements regarding sovereignty over the known or undiscovered islands in the Arctic Ocean. Canada claims jurisdiction over the area between west longitudes 60° and 141° from the mainland north to the Pole. Such claims as the United States may have in polar regions have not been formally recognized by other nations. Although none of these islands are at present of economic importance, they may prove of value in the future.

It is doubtful whether international laws would justify such wholesale claims in polar regions as those that have been made. 53



Under the commonly accepted principles of international law diplomatic representatives are immune from the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the country of their sojourn, and this immunity is,

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69 For further information regarding these islands see The voyage of the Jeannette, ed. by Emma DeLong, vol. 2, pp. 679-689, Boston, 1883, and 47th Cong., 2d sess., H. Ex. Doc. 108, p. 361, 1883.

63 For an excellent discussion of these questions see Miller, D. H., Political rights in the Arctic: Foreign Affairs Mag., vol. 4, pp. 47-60, 1926; vol. 5, pp. 508-510, 1927 ; also revised reprint in Problems of polar research, pp. 235–250, Am. Geog. Soc., 1928. R. N. R. Brown (The polar regions, London, Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1927), in a chapter on political geography, describes claims by different nations to land in the polar regions. 167 he states: "Annexation by private persons is null and void. To be valid it must be by an act of State.

Discovery and exploration do not in themselves constitute a title to ownership." J. G. Hayes (Antarctica, London, Richard Press, 1928), in discussing territorial rights, states (p. 359) that discovery is recognized as a valid title to territory only if followed by occupation; though it strengthens a title based on occupancy." See also Lawrence, T. J., Principles of international law, 7th ed., pp. 148–149, 1923, and Joerg, W. L. G., Brief history of polar explorations since the introduction of flying, American Geographical Society special publication No. 11, New York, 1930. The areas claimed by foreign nations are outlined on the accompanying maps. United States rights in Antarctica are discussed on pp. 34-36.

66 These are usually called extraterritorial rights.



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