Located above the Equator in the Western Pacific, the Federated States of Micronesia is one of the most divine places on the globe. The word Micronesia means small islands. It is a blissful place with glittering waters, sandy white beaches, indigenous tribes, colourful culture and lush green trees. The peaceful lands of Micronesia are no less than paradise on earth. There are legends that the grown-ups of Micronesia still tell their children of how the islands were formed – gods and goddesses, volcanoes and ocean, mountains and trees and the people who dwelled here. While there may be stories built about how Micronesia was formed, the exquisiteness of Micronesia is undeniable.
Geography & Climate
The Federated States of Micronesia has four main island groups– Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands which is the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau, the Mariana Islands which is the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam and finally the Gilbert Islands or the Republic of Kiribati. Millions of years back when volcanic eruptions took place islands of Micronesia were formed. There are many mountains that are submerged in the ocean, most of them fringed with beautiful coral reefs. Some islets encircle sand lagoons while the others are rigged within lagoons.
The lands of Micronesia are diverse and immaculate – there are high peaked mountains to open grasslands, from sheltered lagoons to untouched beaches, from lush forests of mangrove to deep-cut river valleys.
Micronesian islands experience tropical climate and the climate stays warm throughout the year. Rains are heaviest in the summers and the maximum average temperature is about 27 ° C throughout. The period of rainfall is different for every island. Pohnpei Island happens to be one of the wettest places in the world.
History of Micronesia
The history of Micronesia dates back about 3,000 thousand years when people from Asia and Polynesia sailed to these islands and settled down which was discovered later by the Germans, Spanish and Japanese who also settled in these islands. The initial settlers first settled in Yap who then moved to Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Southeast Asia, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. They were qualified in the knowledge of Maritime and horticulture. The Federated States of Micronesia was a part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and was overseen by the United States from 1947-1986. Since then Micronesia has been functioning independently.
The ruins of Nan Madol in Pohnpei and ruins of Lelu in Kosrae date back to 1000 AD and 1400 AD respectively reveal how accomplished they were.
Ruins of Nan Madol
Some Portuguese sailors landed on the islands of Yap and Ulithi in 1525. These sailors were actually looking for Indonesia known as Spice Islands back then. Later Spain established their government on Yap and declared their dominance on the Caroline Islands. The Spanish continued to rule the islands till 1899 after which they traded their rights with Germany. Only Guam was under the United States.
The Germans helped the trade to grow. The main product of trade was copra (dried coconut kernel). After the Germans, the Japanese took over Northern Mariana Islands, Caroline, and Marshall in 1914. The Japanese population increased fast and reached 100,000 they exceeded the indigenous population which was about 40,000 around the 1920’s. Mining, tropical agriculture, fishing and sugar cane production became the main industries.
The once prospering Micronesia was brought down to its knees in the World War II and by the time the rule of the Japanese ended the wealth of the Micronesians was drained dry.
The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) was created in 1947 by the United Nations and part of it was Districts of Yap, Pohnpei, Palau, Kosrae, Chuuk, Marshall Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. United States was made the Trustee of TTPI and it was also responsible for the promotion of the economic development and self-reliance of the island's occupants.
A High Commissioner for TTPI was appointed by the President of United States who for every District of TTPI chose an administrator. The United States Navy Department too care of the civil administration of TTPI till 1951 after which the Department of the Interior took over the same role.
The people of four earlier Districts of the Trust Territory –Ponape (now Pohnpei), Yap, Truk (now Chuuk), and Kusaie (now Kosrae) voted to create a Federation under the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia on July 12, 1978.
Later when the Federated States of Micronesia Constitution was implemented on May 10, 1979, the earlier Districts became States of the Federation and slowly implemented their own State Constitutions. Elections took place throughout Micronesia and Tosiwo Nakayama was elected as the first President of Federated States of Micronesia. Bethwel Henry was elected the Speaker and the Congress began to ratify laws for the newly formed nation. Along with this, a judicial system was also set-up and the United States recognized the establishment of national and state governments of Federated States of Micronesia. There was a Compact of Free negotiation each that was negotiated with the United States by Republic of Palau and Republic of Marshall Islands. After the approval of Compact by the Federated States of Micronesia in 1983 and by the United States in 1986 the Compact came into power on November 3, 1986.
People, Culture and Language
The people of Micronesia are Micronesians whose mixed cultures and traditions hold them together through the history of Micronesia. The cultural difference is understood by the eight main tribal languages – Ulithian, Yapese, Kapingamarangi, Kosraeans, Chuukese, Pohnpeians, and Nukuoro. However, English is the official language of the nation.
Every island has a clan system and different set of customs. Yap happens to be one of the most traditional societies of Micronesia and they follow a strict caste system.
Japanese and European effects are seen on the islands and although they differ in ethnicities there are many common cultures and other economic bonds that the indigenous people of Micronesia share amongst themselves. They have upheld their centuries old traditions, language, legends, rituals, and folklore. Among these old traditions is a musical legacy which has been carried over from generations. The unique melodious sound of drums and other instruments are exhilarating. The music also has the Western influence of both European and American countries.
The indigenous people of Micronesia have simple lives who thrive on tree and crop cultivation and fishing.
Every island of Micronesia has a charm of its own which is different from the other. The cluster of islands is paradise for the tourists and they would never have enough from these peaceful islands. Some main places of attractions are:
•re"> The Togari Natural Arch which is situated in the Northern Mariana Islands. Another natural arch which is worth seeing is Natural Spring Arch located in northern parts of Guam. It is a bowed cave located in the middle of the sea. Togari Natural Arch
•re"> There is JellyFishLake that has more than 31 million types of jellyfish. The Orona and Kanton Lagoons are home to groups of gigantic and rare molluscs.
•re"> Mount Winipat in Unique Tropical forest of Chuuk is home to some of the rare species of animals and plants. The forest is covered mainly by the ChuukPoisontree the only thing that survives among these poisonous trees is the Teardrop White-eye or the Rukiaruki bird. Another rare species is the Chuuk Islands Giant Millipede which 15.5 cm long.
•re"> There are some high water-falls such as the Taki, Sawarlap, and Sawartik.
•re"> The Milky Way in Palau, Rock Islands, Koror has a Bay that has turquoise water with the bottom covered in white limestone mud which the locals say has healing powers.
•re"> One of the rare sights is the Daikoku Sulphur Cauldron which is a pool of liquid sulfur located towards north from Farallon de Pajaros. Another sight around this location is a submarine vent known as NW Eifuku Champagne Vent that emits pure liquid carbon dioxide. This is a rare phenomenon and happens in just two other places in the world other than this.
•re"> The Gadao’s Cave, Chugai cave, Kalabera Cave, Talofofo Caves are all sites of historic drawings and paintings. There are symbols and drawings that haven’t yet been deciphered but look mystifyingly beautiful. There are drawings of turtles, fishes, constellations, and stars. Gadao’s Cave
•re"> There is the Bikini Lagoon which was a test location for nuclear bombs and as a ship graveyard after the Second World War. Although the place is quite uncanny it attracts a lot of divers for there is a beautiful marine life that can be seen here.
•re"> Situated in the Yap Island is the Rai of Yap that are Limestone discs with a hole in the centre and is used as money for more than 500 years. There were as many as 13,281 stones on the island last registered in 1929 – thousands were burgled and few thousands remain.
These attractions are just a few, there are hundreds more stunning and spectacular sightings in Micronesia whose beauty is indescribable. Nature’s power is so intense that the islands here seem to be magical. The splendour and loveliness of the islands of Micronesia are stupefying.