Likiep Village Historic District consists of approximately 15 architecturally and/ or historically significant buildings or remnants of buildings, along with several other structures, built between 1880 and 1937. The proposed property is exemplary of the history and impact of German settlement in the Pacific in the late 19th Century.
German colonization began with commercial trading in Hawaii in 1845, Samoa in 1857, and in the Marshall Islands in 1859, with the main product being copra. The Marshall Islands came officially under German Administration in 1885. By the late 1890s Germany controlled about 70% of commerce in the pacific (mainly copra).
In 1877 Likiep Atoll- with 65 islands, 163 square miles of lagoon and a total landmass of 4 square miles - was purchased by Anton De Brum, a Portuguese trader and partner in Adolph Capelle’s trading firm-from the traditional chief or “Iroij” Jortoka. This was the first alienation of customary land to European owners, and there are relatively few examples of this change of land tenure in the Marshall Islands, even today.
German colonial administration in Micronesia and particularly in the Marshall islands was based on commercial enterprise. The architecture and landscape of the village illustrate the development of the copra trade, the influence on local architecture, socio-economic shift to a cash economy, conversion to a Christian religious life and a change from the traditional land tenure system.
During the 24 years from 1877 to 1900 the atoll was transformed physically and socially through rapid expansion of coconut planting.