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The Federated States of Micronesia is an island nation located in the Pacific Oceanmarker, north of New Guineamarker. It is a sovereign state in free association with the United Statesmarker. 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 is spread across the Caroline Islandsmarker in the wider region of Micronesia, which consists of hundreds of small islands divided between 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 empire centered on Yapmarker.

Nan Madolmarker, 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 Pohnpeimarker 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 Portuguesemarker in search of the Spice Islandsmarker (Indonesiamarker) and then the Spanishmarker—reached the Carolinesmarker in the sixteenth century, with the Spanish establishing sovereignty. It was sold to Germanymarker in 1899, conquered by Japanmarker in 1914, before being seized by the United Statesmarker 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 Japanesemarker fleet was based in Truk Lagoonmarker. 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. Palaumarker, the Marshall Islandsmarker, and the Northern Mariana Islandsmarker chose not to participate. The FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States of Americamarker, which entered into force on November 3, 1986, marking Micronesia's emergence from trusteeship to independence. 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. 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. The President and Vice President are elected by Congress 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.

The president and vice president are supported by an appointed cabinet. There are no formal political parties.

In international politics, the Federated States of Micronesia has often voted with the United States with respect to United Nations General Assembly resolutions. However, in recent years other countries have had a higher voting coincidence with the United States.

Administrative divisions

Map of the Federated States of Micronesia

The four states in the federation are:
Flag State Capital Land area Population Population density
Chuukmarker Wenomarker 127 km² 54,595 420 per km²
Kosraemarker Tofolmarker 110 km² 9,686 70 per km²
Pohnpeimarker Koloniamarker 346 km² 74,685 100 per km²
Yapmarker Coloniamarker 118 km² 16,436 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 Islandsmarker east of the Philippinesmarker. The four constituent island groups are Yapmarker, Chuukmarker (called Truk until January 1990), Pohnpeimarker (known as "Ponape" until November 1984), and Kosraemarker (formerly Kusaie). These four states are each represented by a white star on the national flag. The capital is Palikirmarker, on Pohnpei.

The country has seven official languages: English, Ulithian, Woleaian, Yapese, Pohnpeian, Kosraean, and Chuukese.

The other languages spoken in the country are Pingelapese, Ngatikese, Satawalese, Kapingamarangi Language, Nukuoro Language, Puluwatese, Mortlockese, and Mokilese.


Economic activity of the Federated States of Micronesia consists primarily of subsistence farming and fishing. The islands have few mineral deposits worth exploiting, except for high-grade phosphate. Long line tuna fishing is also viable with foreign vessels from Chinamarker 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 US is the primary source of revenue, with the US pledged to spend $1.3 billion in the islands in 1986–2001. Geographical isolation and a poorly developed infrastructure are major impediments to long-term growth.

The nation uses the US dollar as their currency.


The Federated States of Micronesia is served by four international airports.


The indigenous population of the Federated States of Micronesia, which is predominantly Micronesian, consists of various ethnolinguistic groups. It has a nearly 100% Pacific Islander and Asian population. Chuukese 48.8%, Pohnpeian 24.2%, Kosraean 6.2%, Yapese 5.2%, Yap outer islands 4.5%, Asian 1.8%, Polynesian 1.5%, other 6.4%, unknown 1.4%. A sizeable 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 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. Pohnpei is notable for the prevalence of the extreme form of color blindness known as maskun.


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 Guineamarker, but most coming in ancient times from Palaumarker. Approximately 6,500 of them are scattered around the island.


The languages of the Federated States of Micronesia include English (the official and common language), Trukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosraean. There are also about 3,000 speakers of Kapingamarangi and Ulithian, and under 1,000 speakers of Nukuoro.


There have been 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.


Defense arrangements

The FSM is a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the United Statesmarker, 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.

See also


  1. General Assembly - Overall Votes - Comparison with U.S. vote lists Micronesia as in the country with the fourth high coincidence of votes. In past years' reports, Micronesia has always been in the top four.
  2. FSM government website - Geography
  3. FSM government website - Population
  4. President Emanuel Mori Meets With Japan Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda; Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, December 12, 2007
  5. CIA World Factbook
  6. "Seeking Micronesian literary writers", Marianas Variety, February 18, 2009
  7. "Micronesian Poet Publishes Collection of Poems", Office of Insular Affairs, May 12, 2008
  8. U.S. Military Enlistment Standards


  1. US-CIA. CIA - The World Factbook: Federated States of Micronesia. The World Factbook. United States of America: Central Intelligence Agency. 2003.
  2. History_Federated_States_of_Micronesia


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