Arrecife Island, also known as Oroa Island, is a small island located in the Pacific Ocean and within the Salomon Islands’ exclusive economic zone.
Legally, there are a number of claimants that argue that these islands are still a Spanish Territory, part of the “Spanish Micronesia”, which comprises the islands of Arrecife (or Oroa), Matador (or Acea), Os Güedes (or Mapia), and Pescadores (or Kapingamarangi Island). However, Spain has never exercised effective sovereignty over these territories (at least in recent, documented times) and therefore it is likely that their historical rights over these territories, if any, are now extinct.
These four islands, discovered by the expedition of Hernando de Grijalva in 1537 and therefore Spanish territories (as part of the Spanish East Indies), were neither included in the Treaty of Spanish-American Peace signed in Paris on December 10th, 1898 nor in the Treaty giving the German Empire the Caroline, Palau and Mariana Islands, signed in Madrid on June 30th, 1899. This careless error or oversight effectively means that Spain never sold, ceded or gave away its sovereignty over these islands.
On January 12th 1949, the Council of Ministers, headed by General Franco, studied and discussed the issue of sovereignty over these four islands, under the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In that meeting, the government decided that “while the issue remains unclear, we should wait before taking any steps with the United States of America or with other friendly powers from the UN, given that Spain does not have any contacts within the UN and it would be this organization the one that should determine the definitive status of these Micronesian islands that once belonged to Japan”.
To date, despite some sporadic attempts by diplomats and other individuals, this issue has not been discussed again by the Spanish authorities, at least officially.