Located in the western Pacific, Micronesia comprises about 600 islands grouped into four states: Kosrae (Kosaie), Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk) and Yap. Its land area is very small - only 270 sq miles - but it is spread over an area in the ocean five times the size of France.
The Federated States of Micronesia was a UN Trust Territory under US administration. In 1979, it adopted a constitution, and in 1986, it gained independence by signing a Compact of Free Association with the US. This gave the US control over the defense and foreign policies of the island; it also allowed the US to set up military bases in Micronesia. As part of the deal, Micronesia received $100 million per year, as well as the right for natives of the islands to reside in the US. In December 2003, the agreement was amended and renewed for 20 years, giving Micronesia and the Marshall Islands $3.5 billion.
Although the islands receive heavy aid from the US, Japan and other countries, unemployment is high, and many people do not have running water or electricity. On the other hand, some islanders and government officials have become wealthy, benefiting from the American aid.
The islands have vast natural beauty which could be a draw for tourists, but the distance, lack of infrastructure and limited air connections are hindrances for the growth of that industry.
Sources: BBC, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.
Federated States of Micronesia
Form of Government:
constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 3 November 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force May 2004
Year of Independence:
1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)
Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 47%, other 3%
700 sq km (270 sq miles)
English (official and common language), Trukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosrean, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro, Kapingamarangi
68 years (men), 69 years (women) (UN)
1 US dollar = 100 cents
fish, garments, bananas, black pepper, sakau (kava), betel nut, copra
GDP - Per Capita (PPP):
$2,200 (2008 est.)
International Dialing Code: