[mahy-kruh-nee-zhuh, ‐shuh]
Micronesia, one of the three main divisions of Oceania, in W Pacific Ocean, north of the equator. Micronesia includes the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands (see Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, Gilbert Islands, and Nauru. The inhabitants are of Australoid and Polynesian stock. They speak Malayo-Polynesian languages.
Micronesia, Federated States of, independent nation (2005 est. pop. 108,000), c.271 sq mi (702 sq km), an island group in the W Pacific Ocean. It comprises four states: Kosrae, Pohnpei (formerly Ponape), Chuuk (formerly Truk), and Yap. The capital, Palikir, is on the island of Pohnpei. The population is predominantly Micronesian and Christian. English is the official language; a number of Austronesian and Polynesian languages are also spoken.

The United States spent heavily in the islands in the 1990s, making financial assistance the primary source of income. Other mainstays of the economy are subsistence farming and fishing. Fish, clothing, bananas, and black pepper are exported and food and beverages, manufactured goods, and machinery are imported. The United States and Japan are the main trading partners.

The islands are governed under the constitution of 1979. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by Congress for a four-year term. There are 14 members of the unicameral Congress; four are popularly elected for four-year terms and 10 for two-year terms. Defense is the responsibility of the United States. Administratively the country is divided into four states.

Germany purchased the islands from Spain in 1898. They were occupied (1914) by Japan, which received them (1920) as a League of Nations mandate. During World War II, U.S. forces captured the islands, and in 1947 they became part of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1979, as negotiations for termination of the trusteeship continued, they became self-governing as the Federated States of Micronesia. In 1986, they assumed free-association status with the United States; the economic and defense relationship with the United States was renewed for 20 years in 2004. Emmanuel Mori became president in 2007.

Micronesia , from the Greek mikros (μικρός) (meaning small) and nesos (νῆσος) (meaning island), is a subregion of Oceania, comprising hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Philippines lie to the northwest, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia to the west and south, and Polynesia to the east.

Geography and history

This region consists of many hundreds of small islands spread over a large region of the western Pacific. The only empire known to have originated in Micronesia was based in Yap.

The term "Micronesia" was first proposed to distinguish the region in 1831 by Jules Dumont d'Urville.

Politically, Micronesia is divided into eight nation-states and territories:

  • (sometimes referred to simply as "Micronesia", or abbreviated as "FSM")
  • Wake Island

Much of the area was to come under European domination quite early. Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Caroline Islands (what would later become the FSM and Palau) were colonized early by the Spanish. These island territories were part of the Spanish East Indies and governed from the Spanish Philippines since the early 17th century until 1898. Full European expansion did not come, however, until the early 20th century, when the area would be divided between:

During the First World War, Germany's Pacific island territories were taken from it and became League of Nations Mandates in 1923. Nauru became an Australian mandate, while Germany's other territories in Micronesia were given as a mandate to Japan and was named The South Pacific Mandate. This remained the situation until Japan's defeat in the Second World War, when its mandate became a United Nations Trusteeship ruled by the United States, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Today, all of Micronesia (with the exceptions of Guam and Wake Island, which are U.S. territories, and the Northern Mariana Islands, which is a U.S. Commonwealth) are independent states.


The people today form many ethnicities, but are all descended from and belong to the Micronesian culture. The Micronesian culture was one of the last native cultures of the region to develop. It developed from a mixture of Melanesians, Filipinos and Polynesians. Because of this mixture of descent, many of the ethnicities of Micronesia feel closer to some groups in Melanesia, Polynesia or the Philippines. A good example of this are the Yapese who are related to Austronesian tribes in the Northern Philippines


The native languages of the various Micronesian indigenous peoples are classified under the Austronesian language family. Almost all of these languages belong to the Oceanic subgroup of this family; however, two exceptions are noted in Western Micronesia, which belong to the Western Malayo-Polynesian subgroup:

This latter subgroup also includes most languages spoken today in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia (Kirch, 2000: pp. 166-167).

On the eastern edge of the Federated States of Micronesia, the languages Nukuoro and Kapingamarangi represent an extreme westward extension of Polynesian.

Regional organizations

The region is home to the Micronesian Games, a quadrennial international multi-sport event involving all Micronesia's countries and territories except Wake Island.

In September 2007, journalists in the region founded the Micronesian Media Association .


  • Kirch, Patrick Vinton (2000). On the Road of the Winds. An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22347-0.

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