Pelew Islands, a chain of islands in the K. Pacific ocean, forming part and situated at the W. extremity of the Caroline archipelago, between lat. 6° 50' and 8° 20' K, and Ion. 134° and 135° E. The group consists of about 26 principal islands, nearly encircled by a coral reef, and covers an extent of about 110 by 30 m. Babelthuap, the largest, is about 28 m. long and 14 m. broad, and contains a mountain so high that the whole group may be seen from its summit. The area of the entire group is 346 sq. m., that of Babelthuap 275 sq. m. The population was estimated by Dr. Gulick at 3,000, while according to Dr. Semper, who during the year 1862 lived on these islands, it is fully 10,000. Seen from the sea, some of the islands appear rugged and mountainous; but the soil is rich and well watered. They are well wooded, and produce breadfruit, cocoa-nuts, bananas, sugar cane, yams, lemons, oranges, and other tropical fruits and vegetables. Horned cattle, pigs, goats, and fowl are numerous; and turtles, fish, and shell fish abound on the coasts. The inhabitants, of the Malay race, show considerable ingenuity in making canoes, some of which can carry 30 men.
The men go entirely naked, and the women almost so. - The Pelew islands are said to have been discovered by the Spaniards in 1545, and they were afterward seen several times by ships bound to China by the eastern passage; but they were first brought to the notice of the civilized world by the wreck of the British ship Antelope, Capt. Wilson, in 1783. The natives treated the crew with the greatest kindness. Capt. Wilson took the son of the chief to England, where he was placed at school. But a more extended acquaintance with the white man has made them treacherous. An excellent work on these islands has been written by the German naturalist Semper (Die Patau Inseln im Stillen Ocean, Leipsic, 1873).