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Santa Cruz Archipelago

SANTA CRUZ ARCHIPELAGO, an archipelago of the Pacific Ocean, in the division of Melanesia, belonging to Great Britain. It is a scattered group of small volcanic islands, irregularly disposed from N.W. to S.E. between 8 31' and 11 40' S., 165 38' and 168 E. The total land area is 380 sq. m., and the population is estimated at 5000.

At the north-western extremity, separated by a deep channel from the Solomon Islands, the following islands are clustered: the Duff and Matema or Swallow groups, Analogo, Tinakula or Volcano Island and others; from these a single chain curves S.E. and then E., consisting of Nitendi or Santa Cruz, the largest island, Tupua or Edgecombe, Vanikoro (Recherche), Tucopia, Anuda (Cherry) and Fataka (Mitie). In Vanikoro there are volcanic mountains up to 3030 ft. in height, and Tinakula is a constantly active volcano of 2200 ft. Nitendi is of less elevation (1215 ft. at the highest). Coral reefs are not extensive, excepting those surrounding Vanikoro. The islands are densely wooded, and have a flora akin to that of New Guinea. The land fauna is very scanty; that of the sea extremely rich and valuable to the natives, who are skilled fishermen and navigators. The climate is hot and humid, and storms are frequent. The natives are of Papuan stock, with an intermixture of other blood; but an exception is found in the Duff group, Tucopia and Anuda, which are inhabited by pure Polynesians. The natives live in villages (sometimes fortified). In the past they have proved treacherous, and cannibalism is not extinct. The work of missionaries, however, has borne good fruit. The islands are included in the British protectorate of the Southern Solomons. Some trade in copra is carried on.

The islands were discovered by the Spaniard Alvaro Mendana in 1 595, in which year he attempted to found a colony on Nitendi, but died there on the 18th of October. In 1767 Philip Carteret visited the archipelago, and called it the Queen Charlotte Islands, a name still sometimes used. During the next century, owing to the practice of kidnapping them as labourers, the natives became so much embittered against foreigners that in 1871 they murdered Bishop John Coleridge Patteson on Nukapu, one of the Swallow group. In 1875 James Graham Goodenough, commodore of the Australian station, was shot with a poisoned arrow on Nitendi during a cruise, and died of his wound. Patteson's murder, however, had roused public feeling in England; steps were taken to regulate the labour traffic, and subsequently Bishop John Selwyn was able to establish friendly relations with the natives. He erected the cross which commemorates his predecessor on Nukapu. The British protectorate was declared in 1898.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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