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the United States by the Republic of Panama by a convention concluded November 18, 1903.64 This area (see fig. 5) is described in article 2 as a zone of land and land under water for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation, and protection of said canal of the width of ten miles extending to the distance of five miles on each side of the center line of the route of the canal to be constructed; the said zone beginning in the Caribbean Sea three marine miles from mean low water mark and extending to and across the Isthmus of Panama into the Pacific Ocean to a distance

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FIGURE 5.-Map of the Canal Zone.




of three marine miles from mean low water mark with the proviso that the cities of Panama and Colon and the harbors adjacent to said cities, which are included within the boundaries of the zone above described, shall not be included within this grant. The Republic of Panama further grants to the United States in perpetuity the use, occupation, and control of any other lands and waters outside of the zone above described which may be necessary and convenient for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation, and

64 Malloy, W. M., op. cit., vol. 2, p. 1349.

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protection of the said canal or of any auxiliary canals or other works necessary and convenient for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation, and protection of the said enterprise.

The Republic of Panama further grants in like manner to the United States in perpetuity all islands within the limits of the zone above described and in addition thereto the group of small islands in the Bay of Panama, named Perico, Naos, Culebra, and Flamenco.

By article 14 of the convention the United States agreed to pay to the Republic of Panama $10,000,000, also to make annual payments of $250,000 beginning 9 years after the convention was ratified. Possession was taken of this tract on June 15, 1904; the boundaries have been surveyed and have been marked at average intervals of half a mile by iron posts bearing brass caps.

Under the clause in article 2 that permitted the United States to take control of “ other lands and waters outside of the zone" the United States from time to time has taken possession of various areas outside of the 5-mile limits, which are officially designated * auxiliary areas.” The largest of these is Gatun Lake with its islands and its shores up to an elevation of 100 feet above mean sea level.

A second convention was concluded September 2, 1914, which recognized the transfer of the Gatun Lake area to the United States and by article 3 receded to the Republic of Panama an area of about 64 square miles adjoining the city of Panama on the north past. This convention also defined the Canal Zone boundary around the city of Colon and the harbors of Colon and of Panama.

The estimated area of the Canal Zone (1921), including Gatun Lake to the 100-foot contour outside the original 10-mile zone, is 527.3 square miles-170.2 water area and 357.1 land area. The United States exercises jurisdiction over all areas taken over for canal uses. These comprise several tracts in various parts of the Republic of Panama.68

VIRGIN ISLANDS OF THE UNITED STATES. In various acts of Congress the former Danish West Indies are referred to as the Virgin Islands, but since June, 1917, the United States Navy Department has added " of the United States” to the name to distinguish these islands from the Virgin Islands belonging to Great Britain.67 The Post Office Department uses the same descriptive title.

By a convention concluded August 4, 1916, Denmark ceded to the United States

* Malloy, W. M., op. cit., vol. 2, p. 15. Letter from the governor of the Zone, dated Mar. 31, 1921. * Letter of Dec. 9, 1922, from Director of Naval Intelligence Omice.


all territory, dominion, and sovereignty possessed, asserted, or claimed by Denmark in the West Indies, including the islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John, and Saint Croix, together with the adjacent islands and rocks.

The three principal islands of this group have a total area of 128 square miles, besides which there are many small islands of little value which make the total area of the group 133 square miles. The purchase price was $25,000,000, or nearly $300 an acre.68 By act of Congress, approved March 3, 1917,6" this cession was to become effective after the President had announced that the amount agreed upon had been paid to Denmark. The proclamation was dated March 31, 1917.


An act of Congress approved August 18, 1856, contains the following provisions :

SECTION 5570. Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.

SECTION 5578. Nothing in this title contained shall be construed as obliging the United States to retain possession of the islands, rocks, or keys, after the guano shall have been removed from the same.

Before 1880 bonds were filed for about 70 islands under this act," but recent information indicates that erroneous names and geographic positions were given for many of them; for some single islands several names and positions had been given.

From the best data now available it seems probable that the United States still has valid claims to sovereignty over the following:

Navassa Island, latitude 18° 24' N., longitude 75° 01' W.; of volcanic origin, about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide, rising from 100 to 250 feet above the sea. A lighthouse and a small settlement are on this island.

48 For an outline of the negotiations that led up to this purchase see 64th Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc. 1505.

# 39 Stat. L. 1132. 70 39 Stat. L. 1649.

71 Lists of these islands appear in a Treasury Department circular dated Feb. 12, 1869 ; in Moore, J. B., Digest of international laws, vol. 1, pp. 556–580, 1906 ; in Magoon, C. E., Report on the legal status of the territory and inhabitants of the islands acquired by the United States

considered with reference to territorial boundaries, pp. 14–17, 1900; also on the General Land Office maps of the United States for 1918 and 1919. Brief descriptions of the Pacific islands are given in Brigham, W. T., Indes to the islands of the Pacific Ocean, Honolulu, 1900 ; in Pacific islands pilot: U. S. Hydrographic Office Pub. 166, vol. 2, 1916 ; and in Reported dangers to navigators in the Pacific Ocean : U. S. Hydrographic Office Pubs. 41, 1871, 41a, 1879, and 41b, 1880. Stewart's Handbook of the Pacific Islands, edited by Percy S. Allen (McCarron Stewart & Co. (Ltd.), 22–26 Goulburn Street, Sydney, N. S. W., Australia, 1920), besides excellent descriptions of all the principal islands, contains a bibliography. The islands in the West Indies are described in Central America and Mexico pllots : U. S. Hydrographic Office Pub. 130, and West Indies pilot: Hydrographic Office Pub. 128.

Gente Hermosa, also called Swain's Island and Quiros, latitude 11° 03' S., longitude 171° 06' W., is about 4 miles in circumference and 20 feet high; its area including a central lagoon of one-third square mile is 1} 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 Swain's Island. In 1856 and for many Fears 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."

Quita Sueno Bank, latitude 14° 28' N., longitude 81° 07' W., extends for about 20 miles north and south and has patches of dry land at intervals. It was declared by presidential proclamation of February 25, 1919, to be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, and “the north or other suitable portion ” was reserved for a lighthouse. The lighthouse 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 one-fourth of a mile long and is at the north end of a series of small cays. By çresidential 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.

Swan Islands, Great and Little, latitude 17° 25' N., longitude 3° 55' W. The western island, Great Swan Island, is about 2 miles long and the eastern island about 11 miles, and each is about half a mile in breadth. A radio station and lighthouse are on Great Swan. In decisions by the Attorney General, volume 31,12 it is stated that the United States may still assert sovereignty over the Swan Islands, for no other nation has asserted a claim to them.

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 (lat. 1° 57' N., long. 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.73

* 86th Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc. 48, 1920.

GUANTANAMO AND BAHIA HONDA, ISLAND OF CUBA. 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.74 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.75 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 chart 1857.


Wrangell Island is in the Arctic Ocean, about 109 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 70 miles long and 35 miles wide. 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.

The question of ownership of this island is unsettled. 78


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

73 From letter of Sept. 12, 1919, from the Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, U. S. Navy Department.

74 Malloy, W. M., op. cit., vol. 1, p. 358. 76 Idem, p. 361. 78 See Arctic Pilot, vol. 1, p. 338, 1917; and U. S. Geol. Survey Bull, 299, p. 682, 1906.

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