Federated States of Micronesia This article is about the sovereign state in Oceania. For the geographic region it lies within, see Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia
; abbreviated FSM
) or simply Micronesia
, is an island country
. It consists of four states
– from west to east, Yap
– that are spread across the western Pacific
. Together, the states comprise around 607 islands (a combined land area
of approximately 702 km2
or 271 sq mi) that cover a longitudinal
distance of almost 2,700 km (1,678 mi) just north of the equator
. They lie northeast of Indonesia
and Papua New Guinea
, south of Guam
and the Marianas
, west of Nauru
and the Marshall Islands
, east of Palau
and the Philippines
, about 2,900 km (1,802 mi) north of eastern Australia
, 3,400 km (2,133 mi) southeast of Japan, and some 4,000 km (2,485 mi) southwest of the main islands of the Hawaiian Islands
Each of its four states is centered on one or more main high islands
, and all but Kosrae include numerous outlying atolls
. The Federated States of Micronesia is spread across part of the Caroline Islands
in the wider region of Micronesia
, which consists of thousands of small islands divided among several countries. The term Micronesia
may refer to the Federated States or to the region as a whole.
The ancestors of the Micronesians settled over four thousand years ago. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious culture centered on Yap Island
, a UNESCO World Heritage site
, 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 on the eastern periphery of 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.
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, which entered into force on November 3, 1986, marking Micronesia's emergence from trusteeship to independence. Independence was formally concluded under international law in 1990, when the United Nations officially ended the Trusteeship status pursuant to Security Council Resolution 683
. The Compact was renewed in 2004.
The Federated States of Micronesia is governed by the 1979 constitution
, which guarantees fundamental human rights and establishes a separation of governmental powers. This constitution constructs the national government to be similar to - but not exactly alike - that of the United States. The unicameral Congress has fourteen members elected by popular vote. Four senators—one from each state—serve four-year terms; the remaining ten senators represent single-member districts based on population and serve two-year terms. Congress elects the President and Vice President from among the four state-based senators to serve four-year terms in the executive branch. Their congressional seats are then filled by special elections.
An appointed cabinet supports the president and vice president. There are no formal political parties.
Defense and foreign affairs
Sea Hawk helicopter (US Navy) flies over the waters of Chuuk, Micronesia.
The FSM is a sovereign, self-governing state in free association
with the United States of America
, which is wholly responsible for its defense. The Division of Maritime Surveillance operates a paramilitary Maritime Wing and a small Maritime Police
Unit. The Compact of Free Association allows FSM citizens
to join the U.S. military without having to obtain U.S. permanent residency or citizenship,
allows for immigration and employment for Micronesians in the U.S., and establishes economic and technical aid programs.
A map of the Federated States of Micronesia
The four states in the federation are, from west to east:
... The Ministry recognises that it is a certain fact and historic truth due to Article 3 of the Treaty of July 1, 1899, that Spain reserved a series of rights in Micronesia and for another thing, the specifications of the territories which Spain ceded in 1899 leaves apart certain groups of islands in the same zone.
Successive Spanish governments have not abandoned Spain's sovereignty, or insisted on enforcing it, or recognized the sovereignty of the Federated States of Micronesia over Kapingamarangi.
The Federated States of Micronesia claims sovereignty and has de facto
control of the island.
A view of Kolonia Town from Sokehs Ridge in Pohnpei
The islands are grouped into four states, which are Yap
(called Truk until January 1990), Pohnpei
(known as "Ponape" until November 1984), and Kosrae
These four states are each represented by a white star on the national flag. The capital is Palikir
, on Pohnpei.
The major coastal communities are mangrove
forests, seagrass beds, lagoons and coral reefs, biologically and physically linked. About 300 species of coral, 1000 species of fish and 1200 species of mollusks are recognized in Micronesia. In the mangrove forests there are shrimps, crabs and fish, as well as birds that feed on them. Seagrass meadows appear offshore following the mangroves. The lagoons provide food for the reef inhabitants and contain various kinds of plankton. The biodiversity and complexity of the coral reefs increases markedly from east to west, with 150 species of hard coral at Kosrae, 200 at Pohnpei and 300 at Chuuk. Coral productivity in this area is among the highest in the world, absorbing about 2500 grams of carbon per square meter per year, against 2200 grams in the tropical forest and 125 grams in the open sea.
Inland, from the tidal zone to the top of the mountains there is a varied range of vegetation
, cloud forest, upland, palm, plantation, areas dominated by climbers of the genus Merremia, savannas, native secondary forest, fragments of introduced trees, cultivated areas, freshwater swamps, swamps of the palm Nypa fruticans, atoll forests, forests in rocky areas and beaches. There are about 1230 species of ferns and flowering plants, of which 782 are native, including 145 native fern species. On Pohnpei Island, there are about 750 plant species, of which 110 are endemic. Another 457 species have been introduced.
Satawal Island, Yap State
The climate of the Federated States of Micronesia is equatorial
, warm, humid and rainy all year round. The islands are located north of the equator and are affected by constant trade winds, which temper the climate. Minimum temperatures range all year round between 22 and 25°C, and maximum temperatures between 30 and 32°C. The abundant precipitations oscillate between 2500 and 5000 mm per year, although in the faces oriented to the wind
they can surpass 6000 mm. Mount Nahnalaud, only 750 m high, on the island of Pohnpei, receives an average of 10,160 mm, being one of the rainiest places on earth, with almost always overcast skies. In general, the rains are produced by showers and storms of short duration but very intense. The driest places are the flat atolls, where rainfall can drop below 3000 mm. The driest months are January and February, with no less than 250 mm and 20 days of rain.
The Federated States of Micronesia is served by four international airports.
Economic activity in the Federated States of Micronesia consists primarily of subsistence farming
. The islands have few mineral deposits worth exploiting, except for high-grade phosphate
. Long line
fishing of tuna
is also viable with foreign vessels from China
that operated in the 1990s. The potential for a tourist industry
exists, but the remoteness of the location and a lack of adequate facilities hinder development. Financial assistance from the U.S.
is the primary source of revenue, with the U.S. pledged to spend $1.3 billion in the islands in 1986–2001; when the Compact was amended in 2004, the United States committed to providing $110 million in development aid through 2023.
The CIA World Factbook
lists high dependence on U.S. aid as one of the main concerns of the FSM.
Geographical isolation and a poorly developed infrastructure are major impediments to long-term growth.
People performing a welcome ceremony on the Ulithi
The indigenous population of the nation, which is predominantly Micronesian, consists of various ethnolinguistic groups. It has a nearly 100% Pacific Islander and Asian
outer islands 4.5%, Asian
1.5%, other 6.4%, unknown 1.4%. A sizable minority also have some Japanese ancestry
, which is a result of intermarriages between Japanese settlers and Micronesians during the Japanese colonial period.
There is also a growing expatriate population of Americans, Australians, Europeans, and residents from China and the Philippines since the 1990s. 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.
English is the official and common language. Beside it the following Austronesian
languages are spoken:
Cathedral of Ponape Belltower, in Kolonia, on the island of Pohnpei, built in 1909 by German Capuchin missionaries
Most Micronesians are Christian
. Several Protestant
denominations, as well as the RomanCatholic Church
, are present in every Micronesian state.
Most Protestant groups trace their roots to American Congregationalist missionaries.
On the island of Kosrae, the population is approximately 7,800; 95 percent are Protestants.
, the population of 35,000 is evenly divided between Protestants and Catholics. Most immigrants are Filipino Catholics who have joined local Catholic churches, e.g. Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Pohnpei.
In the 1890s, on the island of Pohnpei, intermissionary conflicts and the conversion of clan leaders resulted in religious divisions along clan lines which persist today.
More Protestants live on the western side of the island, while more Catholics live on the eastern side.Missionaries
of many religious traditions are present and operate freely.
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion
, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.
The US government received no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice in 2007.
Life expectancy was 66 for men and 69 for women in 2018.
Baseball is very popular in FSM.
A large (approximately 2.4 m or about 8 ft in height) example of Yapese stone money (Rai stones
) in the village of Gachpar
Each of the four states has its own culture and traditions, but there are also common cultural and economic bonds that are centuries old. Cultural similarities include the importance of the traditional extended family and clan systems and are found on all the islands.
The island of Yap is notable for its "stone money" (Rai stones
), large disks usually of calcite, up to 4 metres (13 ft) 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
, and Reng
, the last being only 30 cm (12 in) 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.
Traditional dances on the main islands includes "stick dancing" on Pohnpei
, standing dances on Chuuk
and sitting dances on Yap
. The Yapese are particularly known for their skills in dancing. The Yapese stick dance is performed by men, women and children together, while standing dances are performed either by women or men and boys, but never both together. The men participate in various dancing competitions, which are segregated by caste
; the lower castes have some distinct dances, such as a woman's standing dance, but can only dance when authorized by a person of a higher caste.
The following papers have been published in the FSM:
There have been very few published literary writers from the Federated States of Micronesia.
In 2008, Emelihter Kihleng
became the first ever Micronesian to publish a collection of poetry in the English language.
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Last edited on 30 May 2021, at 15:20
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