To Walk Under Palm Trees

The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums


The Germans in Samoa 114

This map of Upolu shows, in light green shades, the huge land purchases by German companies, mainly Godeffroy/DH & PG, up to 1884. Most was uncultivated. The areas in red show DH & PG plantations – from right to left Vailele (2,312 acres), Vaitele (approx. 3,000 acres) and Mulifanua (approx. 5,000 acres). Plantation positioning was influenced by the knowledge that coconut trees grow better in coastal situations. Small pockets of German land can be seen at Saluafata (where a good alternative harbour beckoned), Aleipata and at Falealili.

After 1884 further land purchases were made. The total acreage was trimmed back significantly by the Samoa Land Claims Commission in 1894. Nevertheless, in 1914 when New Zealand took control of Samoa approximately a quarter of Upolu appears to have been in German hands.

Credit: Google Earth Map ©Google ©DigitalGlobe; German-owned shaded areas derived approximately from maps in Sylvia Masterman, “The Origins of International Rivalry in Samoa, 1845-1884,” George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1934, London, pp.80-81.

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One Comment

  1. Jakob Anderhandt says:

    It is important to note, however, that it was exclusively uncultivated land that was „trimmed away“ from the DH&PG. By its own records, the company owned 120,150 acres of uncultivated land in 1896, which were reduced to 72.350 acres by the commission’s decision.

    Compared to other nations’ landclaims on Samoa, those of Germany were vastly acknowledged by the commission. This was especially so because Germans cultivated their land and therefore could found a reasonable claim on it. In contrast, members of other nations, especially US-Americans, had purchased land on Samoa purely for speculation.

    Accordingly, the board of the DH&PG in Hamburg was pleased to announce after the commission’s decision that „all our plantations have been saved with no reduction at all“.

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