The Federated States of Micronesia is an unspoiled, culturally intact nation of the Caroline Islands in the West Pacific Ocean. This country of 607 islands is located north of the equator and is surrounded by Guam, Marianas Islands, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Philippines.
Also known as FSM, Micronesia is one of the least frequented travel destinations in the world, which is favorable in certain respects. Because only a small number of tourists come every year, Micronesia remains pristine and untouched by the madness of international tourism.
This is not to say, though, that Micronesia is not worth visiting. In fact, it is very unfortunate that only a few people have been to the country. With its striking tropical landscape, stretches of beaches, historical and lively dive sites, and rich wildlife, Micronesia creates an enjoyable island vacation. If you add Micronesia’s varied cultural identities to the scene, you get an ultimately memorable experience.
Micronesia is made of up of four states, namely, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. Yap is the most loyal to island traditions; Chuuk is world-renowned for its diving spots; Pohnpei is the largest state and called the Garden Island of Micronesia; and Kosrae is popular for its stunning reef. Each of the states has its own culture and traditions and thus gives Micronesia unique and layered characteristics. Stepping from one state to another is in itself an insightful cultural experience.
The country is home to about 102,000 people of different descents and ethnic groups, with Chuukese comprising 48.8% of the population. Other groups are Pohnpeian (24.2%), Kosraen (6.2%), Yapese (5.2%), Yap outliers (4.5%), Asian (1.8%), and Polynesian (1.5%). Maintaining their cultural identities, these ethnic groups speak their own languages, which are of Austronesian origin. Interestingly, English is the official language in Micronesia, a linguistic influence of the United States, with which Micronesia is in free association.
There is apparent diversity in the Micronesian society, but what ties everything together is the people’s strong regard for traditions such as clan systems and extended family. Religion is another national bond, with Christianity widely practiced in the country. Specifically, 50% of the Micronesians are Catholic and 47% are Protestants. Three percent of the people practice indigenous religions.
Micronesians are generally warm and kind to visitors, which makes the country all the more charming. However, it is very important to be respectful of the locals’ customs and traditions, especially in Yap, where ancient island traditions are still observed.
In fact, taking photographs of the Yapese without getting their permission is discouraged. But if you demonstrate genuine appreciation, respect, and interest in their culture, Yapese and Micronesians in general will welcome you to their society with gusto.
Life in Micronesia is very simple and stripped to the barest, but the country is slowly catching up. Concrete structures, for example, took the place of many wooden structures, and Internet has been made available in the country.
So should you need to bring a laptop, and other electrical devices for that matter, you can do so. Just bring an adapter for flat-blade plug sockets. Electricity runs on 110–120 volts.
There are plenty of things you can expect in Micronesia. An island nation that boasts of an interesting history, distinct set of cultures, and exotic beauty, Micronesia is worth every traveler’s time.