Micronesia is a tiny federated republic associated with the United States, in the Pacific Ocean. Its four states (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae) are spread across the Pacific Ocean in one of the beautiful exotic destinations of the world.
Let’s find out the top interesting facts about this tiny country of Micronesia.
1. Made of four different states, Micronesia still has one national identity
The individual states that make up Micronesia are culturally different, but the official stance is that there is one national unity for the country. The national flag represents each state with a star over a blue background (symbol of the Western Pacific Ocean). You can tell the inspiration for the flag was the United States!
2. Once a US-administered territory, Micronesia still uses the US Dollar
An interesting fact about Micronesia is that it used to be part of the US-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Even though it’s now independent, it continues to use the US dollar as its currency. This is the same as the other three states which were part of the Trust: Palau, Marshall Islands, and Mariana Islands.
3. Pohnpei has no addresses
This is a quirky fact for the island of Pohnpei. It’s so small that there is only one main road, and all the locals know each other very well, as well as where everyone lives. Very much like a small village, there are no addresses as a result.
4. Kosrae is one of the safest places in the world
The tiny Micronesian island of Kosrae has almost no reported crime, making it one of the absolute safest places on the planet.
Unrelated, but they also don’t have any crocodiles, snakes, or any other dangerous creatures like this, unlike neighboring islands.
5. This country is one of the least visited places in the world
Partly because it’s such a small state, partly because its name is also attributed to some 600 islands in the North Pacific, Micronesia doesn’t seem to be a place where people go. The Federated States of Micronesia register less than 45,000 visitors every year, most of them going there for diving, a fun fact about Micronesia.
6. Micronesia’s population speaks nine languages
For a country with 100,000 people, it’s interesting to note that Micronesians speak nine languages! While English is the official language, there are eight others: Chuukese, Kosrean, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi.
Unfortunately, the already small population is decreasing every year. The capital city, Palikir, is one of the world’s smallest capitals, with only about 7,000 inhabitants.
7. Everyone chews betel nut
This is a common sight on Pacific islands: red splashes from the spit from chewing betel nut. Chewing betel nuts also makes the teeth stain and makes people look like they have bleeding gums as a result. Not a great look, but common around the Pacific!
8. Chuuk is the wreck diving capital of the world
It is estimated that over 50 ships have sunk around the island of Chuuk after Operation Hailstone during World War II, when the Japanese base around there was destroyed. This means divers come here to explore the wreckages underwater, an interesting Micronesia fact.
9. Micronesia receives thousands of pounds of donated goods through air drops
Drops of up to 200 kilos are brought to the islands of Micronesia with food, fishing nets, construction materials, clothes, shoes, tools, and school supplies.
This all started in 1942, when a US plane leaving Andersen Base in Guam spotted locals in Kapingamarangi waving, and dropped as many items as possible down to them in a container. This was called Operation Christmas Drop and has been used as a humanitarian action ever since. The US army also uses this as a practice exercise for those who will go on to conduct humanitarian air drops in war-torn places like Iraq or Afghanistan.
10. Pohnpei houses an ancient city the size of Angkor Wat
On the island of Pohnpei, there is a UNESCO World Heritage site which is only visited by a maximum of 1,000 people every year. It’s believed that Nan Madol, the seat of the Saudeleur Dynasty, was built in the 8th century as a series of islets with canals in between. It’s sometimes referred to as the Venice of the Pacific because of the canal network.
There are also megalithic structures from the 12th century, contemporary to Angkor Wat. These islets were all built on corals, which makes it even more impressive.
The reason for the low number of visitors to Nan Madol is because the island of Pohnpei is extremely isolated and hard to reach, as well as the fact that there have been disputes over the land ownership which have led to there being no concerted marketing effort to promote the location.
11. In Yap, you can’t walk empty-handed
There is a custom in Yap according to which you can never walk into a village with nothing in your hand, as it’s believed then you may have ill intentions. An interesting fact about Micronesia is that therefore, you have to carry a green leaf as a peace sign when visiting Yap.
12. Micronesia relies on fishing for its economy
As this tiny country cannot rely too heavily on tourism because of how isolated it is, fishing and related activities support most of its economy. Micronesia specialises in fish processing and exports fish as well as fruit and nuts. It also exports craft items made from wood, pearls and shells.
The industry of Micronesia hasn’t really developed much, so it’s a pretty basic economy overall.
The tiny federated state of Micronesia is a little-known country due to its size, remote location, and confusion with the general term of Micronesia given to the many islands in the same area in the Pacific Ocean. However, it’s a country with its own interesting history and cultural heritage, despite the fact that these are not massively marketed to tourists. The poor infrastructure and facilities also reduce the appeal for tourists, and keep it a secret of the Pacific.
I hope that this article on Micronesia facts was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!