The Federated States of Micronesia is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, north of Papua New Guinea. The country is a sovereign state in free association with the United States. The Federated States of Micronesia were formerly part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, a United Nations Trust Territory under U.S. administration. In 1979 they adopted a constitution, and in 1986 independence was attained under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.
The Federated States of Micronesia are located in the region known as Micronesia, which consists of hundreds of small islands divided in eight territories. The term Micronesia may refer to the Federated States or to the region as a whole.
Nan Madol, consisting of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals, is often called the Venice of the Pacific. It is located near the island of Pohnpei and used to be the ceremonial and political seat of the Saudeleur dynasty that united Pohnpei's estimated 25,000 people from about AD 500 until 1500, when the centralized system collapsed.
European explorers — first the Portuguese in search of the Spice Islands (Indonesia) and then the Spanish — reached the Carolines in the sixteenth century, with the Spanish establishing sovereignty. It was sold to Germany in 1899, conquered by Japan in 1914, before being seized by the United States during World War II and administered by the US under United Nations auspices in 1947 as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
During World War II, a significant portion of the Japanese fleet was based in Truk Lagoon. In February 1944, Operation Hailstone, one of the most important naval battles of the war, took place at Truk, in which many Japanese support vessels and aircraft were destroyed.
On May 10, 1979, four of the Trust Territory districts ratified a new constitution to become the Federated States of Micronesia. Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands chose not to participate. The FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States of America, which entered into force on November 3, 1986, marking Micronesia's emergence from trusteeship to independence. The Compact was renewed in 2004.
In international politics, the Federated States of Micronesia has always voted with the United States with respect to United Nations General Assembly resolutions.
|Flag||State||Capital||Land area||Population||Population density|
|Chuuk||Weno||127 km²||53,595||420 per km²|
|Kosrae||Tofol||110 km²||7,686||70 per km²|
|Pohnpei||Kolonia||346 km²||34,486||100 per km²|
|Yap||Colonia||118 km²||11,241||95 per km²|
These states are further divided into municipalities.
The Federated States of Micronesia consists of 607 islands extending (2,900 km) across the archipelago of the Caroline Islands east of the Philippines. The four constituent island groups are Yap, Chuuk (called Truk until January 1990), Pohnpei (known as "Ponape" until November 1984), and Kosrae (formerly Kusiae). These four states are each represented by a white star on the national flag. The capital is Palikir, on Pohnpei.
The nation uses the US dollar as their currency.
There is a growing population of Americans, Australians, Europeans, and residents from China and the Philippines. English has become the common language of the government, and for secondary and tertiary education. Outside of the main capital towns of the four FSM states, the local languages are primarily spoken. Population growth remains high at more than 3% annually, offset somewhat by net emigration.
Each of the four States has its own culture and traditions, but there are also common cultural and economic bonds that are centuries old. For example, cultural similarities like the importance of the traditional extended family and clan systems can be found on all the islands.
The island of Yap is notable for its "stone money" (Rai stones), large disks usually of calcite, up to 12 feet (4 m) in diameter, with a hole in the middle. The islanders, aware of the owner of a piece, do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. There are five major types: Mmbul, Gaw, Ray, Yar, and Reng, the last being only 1 foot (0.3 m) in diameter. Their value is based on both size and history, many of them having been brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most coming in ancient times from Palau. Approximately 6,500 of them are scattered around the island.
The Compact of Free Association allows FSM citizens to join the U.S. military without having to obtain U.S. permanent residency or citizenship.