(GILBERT AND ELLICE ISLANDS) 1892 – 1976
Las islas Gilbert y Ellice eran un protectorado británico desde 1892, y una colonia desde 1916 hasta 1976. Las islas, que mezclaban población micronesia y polinesia, se dividieron en dos colonias diferentes que adquirieron la independencia poco después. Las islas Gilbert pasaron a ser las islas principales de la República de Kiribati en 1979, y las islas Ellice son Tuvalu desde 1978.
De hecho las islas formaban parte de los territorios británicos del Pacífico occidental organizados en 1857, pero el protectorado no se formalizó hasta 1892 con el nombramiento de un alto comisionado. En 1900 se incluyó la isla Océano (hoy en día Banaba).
En 1916 pasaron a ser colonia británica, estableciendo la capital en la isla Océano. Del archipiélago de las islas de la Línea se incorporaron a la colonia la isla Fanning (hoy en día Tabuaeran) y la isla Washington (hoy en día Teraina) en 1916, y la isla de Navidad con la protesta de los Estados Unidos en 1919.
Las islas de la Unión (hoy en día Tokelau) se incluyeron en la colonia en 1916, y pasaron a la administración de Nueva Zelanda en 1925, aunque en la práctica no fue hasta después de la guerra, junto con el mandato sobre la Samoa Alemana.
Durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial se produjo la batalla de Tarawa entre japoneses y estadounidenses. Después de la guerra la capital de la colonia se estableció en Tarawo. Las islas Fénix se incorporaron en 1937, y el resto de islas centrales y meridionales de la Línea en 1972.
Las islas Ellice se separaron en una colonia aparte en 1976, adquiriendo la independencia en 1978. El año siguiente se formó la República de Kiribati con las islas Gilbert, Ellice y de la Línea, excepto algunas islas al norte que están bajo dominio federal estadounidense.
The Gilbert and Ellice Islands were a British protectorate from 1892 and colony from 1916 until 1 January 1976, when the islands were divided into two colonies which became independent nations shortly after. A referendum was held in December 1974 to determine whether the Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands should each have their own administration. As a consequence of the referendum, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony ceased to exist on 1 January 1976 and the separate countries of Kiribati and Tuvalu came into existence.
The sixteen islands of the Gilberts were declared a British Protectorate by Captain Davis R.N., of HMS Royalist between 27 May and 17 June 1892. The Ellice Islands were declared a British Protectorate by Captain Gibson R.N., of HMS Curacoa, between 9 and 16 October of the same year.
The British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT) were administered by a High Commissioner resident in Fiji. A Resident Commissioner, Charles Swayne, was appointed for the Ellice Islands in 1892 and for the Gilbert Islands in 1893. He was succeeded by W. Telfer Campbell in 1896, who established himself on Tarawa Atoll and remained in office until 1908. Telfer Campbell was criticised for his legislative, judicial and administrative management (including forced labour alleged to be exacted from islanders) and an inquiry was held by Arthur Mahaffy, a former colonial official in the Gilberts, resulting in a report in 1909.
The seat of government was then moved to Ocean Island (now known as Banaba Island), which had been included in the protectorate in 1900, to take advantage of the improved shipping connections resulting from the Pacific Phosphate Company’s activities, and the status of the islands was changed on 12 January 1916 to that of a Crown Colony. The role of the British colonial authorities emphasised the procurement of labour for the Ocean Island phosphate mining and keeping order among the workers.
A Colony Conference was organised at Marakei in 1956, which was attended by officials and representatives from each island in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, conferences were held every two years until 1962. The development of administration continued with the creation in 1963 of an Advisory Council of five officials and 12 representatives who were appointed by the Resident Commissioner.
In 1964 an Executive Council was established with eight officials and eight representatives. The representative members were elected in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Advisory Council election held in 1964. The Resident Commissioner was now required to consult the Executive Council regarding the creation of laws to making decisions that affected the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.
A Constitution was introduced in 1967, which created a House of Representatives for the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony that comprised seven appointed officials and 23 members elected by the islanders. Tuvalu elected four members of the House of Representatives. The 1967 Constitution also established the Governing Council. The House of Representatives only had the authority to recommend laws; the Governing Council had the authority to enact laws following a recommendation from the House of Representatives.
A select committee of the House of Representatives was established to consider whether the constitution should be changed to give legislative power to the House of Representatives. It became apparent that the Tuvaluans were concerned about their minority status on the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, and the Tuvaluans wanted equal representation to that of the I-Kiribati.
A new constitution was introduced in 1971, which provided that each of the islands of Tuvalu (except Niulakita) elected one representative. However that did not end the Tuvaluan movement for independence.
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