May 11, 2007

12 things you didn't know about Micronesia

I frequently come across very interesting tidbits of information at work. I don't know about you, but I don't know much about small Island nations (other than Hawai is a nice place to go for spring break). Here are 12 bits of information you should know about the country of Micronesia (if you count that fact that you didn't know there was a country called Micronesia, make that 13).

Sources: the State Department, and Wikipedia

(1) Micronesia is often used to refer to several areas in the Pacific. Here, I am talking about the island nation called the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

(2) It is located North of Australia, Northeast of Papua New Guinea.

(3) FSM is made up of 607 islands extending 1,800 miles. These islands are divided amongst are major island groups: Pohnpei, Chuuk (pronounce Choo-k), Yap and Kosrae (pronounce kosh-rye). People from these islands are the Pohnpiean, the Chuukese, the Yappese, and the Krosraeans.

(4) You may have heard of these islands through the television show Lost or by reading Oliver Sacks. Wikipedia says:

The fictional American television series Lost has been linked to the island by some fans of the show. A numeric sequence that has prominence in Lost , known simply as 'The Numbers' (4 8 15 16 23 42), happens to correspond to a geographic latitude and longitude (4.815° N 162.342° E) that is not far from Kosrae.


The atoll of Pingelap, located several hundred miles to the east of Pohnpei, but part of Pohnpei State, is notable for the prevalence of the extreme form of color blindness known as maskun. Maskun is relatively rare but often shows up in communities with small gene-pools. Pingelap was featured in the book, The Island of the Colorblind, by neurologist Oliver Sacks.

(5) There are about 108,000 people on the islands.
(6) More than one-half of workers are government employees (imagine if you will, 150,000,000 American people working in the government. Scary).

(7) The country obtained its independence UN trusteeship in November 3, 1986.
(8) The GDP per capita is $2,018 (compare that to $43,444 for the United States, $2,007 for Senegal and $ 850 for the Democratic Republic of Congo).

(9) FSM does not have a lot of diverse industries. Income comes from fishing, agriculture, and tourism. Income also comes from the Compact of Free Association, a contract of sorts in which the United States gives FSM money until 2023, for the right to monitor its international waters.

(10) The currency is the U.S. dollar, and the common language is English.

(11) Under the Amended Compact of Free Association, Americans can live and work freely in the FSM without the need for a visa.

(12) The ancestors of the Micronesians first settled the islands over four thousand years ago. The Portuguese, looking for the Spice Islands of Indonesia for settled FSM. Then it was sold to the Germans in 1899 and conquered by Japan in 1914. It was seized by the United States during World War II and later fell under the United Nations in 1947. It received it’s independence in 1986.
Fascinating! Doesn't it just make you want to go there?


Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I would definitely be interested in moving there (#11 makes it easy :) but I suspect these islands will be among the first to disappear if the ocean's level rises... So I'll let you go first and see how it goes :)

konadreamer50 said...

THANKS for your short but solid list of facts.And haveing lived & traveled to islnads & atoll's that most people have never heard of, My hat's off to you for your insight about Pingelap. Thanks again!

007 in Africa said...

Really Konadreamer50? Frankly i'm shocked that my facts were solid :) But thanks for your appreciation of them. I can't wait to get there someday! said...

The GDP number is a bit misleading. The $3K figure cited by the CIA fact book and the World Bank is based on census data from Micronesia's four capital islands. These state (formerly district) centers house a bit more than half the total national population, but account for the vast majority of wealth and resources. Islanders on the more remote Outer Islands that surround the state centers have a dramatically lower per capita income, educational attainment, and life expectancy.

007 in Africa said...

Habele, that's a very important distinction to make. It's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and not realise that there huge economic differences on these islands--with people in more remote places benefitting very little from services and financial gains.