The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean located between the Philippines and Hawaii and south of the island of Guam, a US Territory. The country 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. Let’s go through some of the most interesting facts about this tiny country!
1. Although Micronesia is composed of four culturally different states, the country seems to say that all four are solidly bonded together. 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. The terrain here varies wildly from island to island, with some consisting of lovely low coral atolls to volcanic outcrops and high mountains with incredible views!
3. Because the country is so small and isolated, it is one of the least visited countries in the world. The Federated States of Micronesia register less than 45,000 visitors every year, most of them going there for diving.
4. The island of Pohnpei is 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.
5. In Yap, one of the four states of FSM, you should never enter a village without anything in your hands. If you have nothing, then it is understood that you have nothing to do there and have ill intentions. Carrying a green leaf is a sign of having peaceful intentions and a good way to occupy your hands.
6. 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.
7. Chuuk is the wreck diving capital of the world. There are over 50 ship wrecks that sank in Chuuk Lagoon after Operation Hailstone in WWII destroyed the Japanese base. This means divers come here to explore the wreckages underwater.
8. The tiny Micronesian island of Kosrae has almost no reported crime, making it one of the absolute safest places on the planet.
How to reach?
Pohnpei International Airport is the main airport for travel to Micronesia, it’s located on Pohnpei Island near the nation’s capital, Palikir. Due to small population and low tourist traffic in these Pacific islands, flights are limited and getting to Micronesia can be a little complicated.
Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon: Chuuk is located in the Caroline Islands, it’s renowned for its giant lagoon – a graveyard for more than 70 Japanese WWII relics. Here you can immerse yourself in history, scuba-diving amongst numerous ships, planes and submarines! Witness the peaceful legacy of a blood-soaked world war first-hand – it’s quite the humbling experience.
Yap Island: Yap Island is famous for the thousands of huge round stone ‘coins’ scattered around the islands. It’s also a cultural hub where you can explore the indigenous art at the Ethnic Art Village. It has stellar diving sites and mountain biking trails as well.
Kosrae Island: So unspoiled by tourism you’ve probably never heard of it, this remote island is in the middle of nowhere and looks like a mini Hawaii. The ruins of Lelu Village are a real wonder for archaeology buffs. The stone structures of the place were built for centuries and are an architectural wonder of the Neolithic world. Nature lovers will enjoy the Finkol Hiking Trail, 2,000 feet trail up to the mountain and among the tropical vegetation and mist.
Nan Madol: Nan Madol is the only ancient city ever built upon a coral reef. The site consists of vast numbers of fallen temples, ancient tombs and bath houses which come towering out of the water. It’s a wonderful archaeological site and a unique Micronesia Instagram opportunity.