The Admiralty Islands are of much less importance and interest economically, ethnically, strategically, and in other respects than the Bismarck Archipelago and New Guinea, although closely related geographically and geologically to these islands. They lie athwart the northern approaches to the Bismarck Sea to the northwest of New Ireland and northeast of the Huon Peninsula. The main axis of the group, which is a composite of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, extends east and west. Manus is the most important island in the group, being the largest, the best endowed with natural resources, especially cultivable soil, and the most populous.
During the Second World War the group functioned as an advanced Allied air and naval base for a time (early 1944), but with the Allied occupation of Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea the Admiralties were quickly relegated to the status of a staging area and subsequently a rear base with the reconquest of the Philippines. As before the war, the group is of little interest except to the Melanesian natives who dwell there, to a handful of white administrators who consider assignment on Manus a pleasant but not very important tour of duty, and to a few stray scientists who occasionally venture into out-of-the-way places.