25 interesting facts about Micronesia (country)

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The most interesting facts about Micronesia, from giant crabs, a colour-blind island and the world’s longest-running humanitarian airlift.

Interesting facts about Micronesia include its unusual giant stone currency
Interesting facts about Micronesia include its unusual giant stone currency (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Federated States of Micronesia
Capital city: Palikir
Population: 102,436
Area: 702 sq km
Major languages: English, Chuukese, Kosrean, Pohnpeian, Yapese
Time zone: UTC+10 / +11
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Micronesia

1. The Federated States of Micronesia is an island nation made up of over 600 islands located in Oceania.
– Source: BBC News

2. The Federated States of Micronesia is often abbreviated to Micronesia or the acronym, FSM.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

3. However, it is not to be confused with the wider cultural and geographic region of Micronesia which includes more than 2,000 islands including the nations of Palau, the Marshall Islands and Nauru, Kiribati and of course, the Federated States of Micronesia.
– Source: Britannica

Note: we refer to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) as Micronesia below.

4. It is believed that some islands of Micronesia have been inhabited since before 1000 BCE.
– Source: Britannica

5. The islands were first sighted by Europeans in 1500 by Spanish explorers.
– Source: BBC News

Micronesia is made up of over 600 islands
Micronesia is made up of over 600 islands (Shutterstock)

6. Micronesia was colonised by Spain in 1886 who then sold the islands to Germany in 1899. Japan then occupied the islands from 1914 until 1944.
– Source: Britannica

7. Micronesia was a major battleground during the Second World War. In 1944, Operation Hailstone was a massive US Navy air and surface assault in Micronesia, conducted as part of the American offensive against Japan.
– Source: US Naval Institute

8. In Truk Lagoon in Micronesia, there are over 60 shipwrecks of Japanese warships destroyed by American forces in 1944.
– Source: National Geographic

9. In 2004, a Second World War shipwreck resurfaced in Micronesia following a typhoon. The wreck of USS Mississinewa, an American oil tanker sunk in the atoll by a Japanese torpedo in 1944, was disturbed by the storm and began to leak the aviation fuel that it had been transporting.
– Source: The Guardian

A shipwreck in Micronesia
A shipwreck in Micronesia (Shutterstock)

10. From 1947 to 1986, Micronesia was part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI), a United Nations trust territory administered by the USA.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com

11. Micronesia is one of just 22 countries not to have an army.
– Source: The Atlantic

12. Instead, as a former US-administered territory, the USA provides aid and is responsible for Micronesia’s defence. In return, the USA can maintain military bases in Micronesia.
– Source: BBC News

13. Micronesia occupies just a small landmass of 702 sq km, but the country is dispersed across an ocean expanse of nearly 3 million sq km – an area approximately five times the size of France.
– Source: BBC News

14. Micronesia is home to the only ancient city ever built on a coral reef. The country’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nan Madol is an ancient city that was constructed in a lagoon between 1200 and 1500. The site consists of at least 100 small artificial islands which hold remains of stone palaces, temples, tombs and houses.
– Source: UNESCO

The artificial islands of Nan Madol
The artificial islands of Nan Madol (Shutterstock)

15. Micronesia is one of the least visited countries in the world. It only receives around 30,000 tourists a year.
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

16. Micronesia is home to the longest-running humanitarian airlift in the world. Operation Christmas Drop is an annual military training operation that airlifts Christmas gifts and humanitarian aid to Micronesia. It began in 1952 and continues to this day.
– Source: USA Today

17. Micronesia is home to the most colour-blind place on Earth. Worldwide, only one in every 30,000 people have achromatopsia (colour blindness). But on Pingelap atoll in Micronesia, one in 10 people are afflicted.
– Source: National Geographic

18. Micronesia consists of four island states: Chuuk (Truk), Kosrae (Kosaie), Pohnpei (Ponape) and Yap.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

19. Micronesia’s flag is made up of of white stars representing the four states, centred on a blue background which represents the Pacific Ocean.
– Source: Britannica

Micronesia's flag
Micronesia’s flag (Shutterstock)

20. The tiny Micronesian island of Mogmog is home to the largest terrestrial arthropods (crabs) in the world. The crabs have a leg span of nearly one meter and can crush coconuts with their pincers.
– Source: The Guardian

21. Micronesia, like many Pacific island nations, has one of the fattest populations in the world. In 2017 a report ranked Micronesia as the world’s 10th most obese nation.
– Source: World Health Organisation

22. The Micronesian island of Yap has hundreds of giant discs of rocks dispersed across it. Known as rai, the stones have been used as a form of currency for centuries even though many of the stones are too heavy to move
– Source: BBC Travel

23. Every year on the island of Yap, the Homecoming Festival or ‘The Taste of Yap’ is celebrated. Activities include a stone money ceremony, canoe building and traditional dancing such as the men’s standing dance and a stick dance.
– Source: Yap Tourism Board, National Geographic

Traditional dancers on the island of Yap
Traditional dancers on the island of Yap (Shutterstock)

24. Micronesia has been hit by a number of severe typhoons over the years. Notable events were Typhoon Chataan in 2002 and Typhoon Sudal in 2004, which destroyed much of the island of Yap’s infrastructure.
– Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

25. In 2018, a plane sunk in a lagoon after overshooting the runway in Micronesia. Fortunately, all 57 people on board were rescued safely.
– Source: The Guardian

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Micronesia. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.