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Micronesia is a country scattered over 600 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, with a small total land mass but over a huge ocean area five times the size of France. The islands are grouped into the states Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk), and Yap. The population is 111,000 and the capital city is Palikir.[1]

National Geographic writes, "In 1899 Spain sold the islands to Germany. Japan later occupied the region and fortified the islands just before World War II. In 1986 these 600 islands and atolls, formerly part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, became self-governing in free association with the United States. American aid is crucial to the islands' economy." [2]


The BBC says of the country's media:

Micronesia has no daily newspaper, but the federal government publishes a fortnightly information bulletin and each of the constituent state governments produces its own newsletter. The state governments and a religious organisation operate radio stations, and cable TV is available on Pohnpei and Chuuk.[1]

U.S. military bases

In 2003, Micronesia renewed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. which extends the right of the U.S. to have military bases, and in exchange Micronesia gets money. This money represents a third of the country's national income. Freedom House wrote, "The major issue for the government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in 2003 was the conclusion of a new Compact of Free Association with the United States. The compact provides U.S. funding to the FSM in exchange for allowing the United States to set up military bases in its territory.

"The Compact of Free Association provides FSM with financial assistance representing a third of its national income and defense by the United States in exchange for allowing the United States the right to establish military bases in its territory. In May, a new $1.8 billion compact that provides $92 million a year to FSM for 20 years and allows continued access to U.S. services and programs, as well as visa-free access to the United States for FSM citizens, was signed. Many FSM citizens are worried about the lower level of funding, inflation rate adjustments, and the termination of disaster assistance from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The new compact also provides for a trust fund invested and overseen by a joint board of United States and FSM trustees in response to past mismanagement of funds. [3]

Earlier years

In 1947, the U.S. was given administrative rights by the United Nations to set up military bases. Lonely Planet writes, "In 1947, the UN set up a Trust Territory in the Pacific, taking in Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap. The USA was given administrative rights over the islands, setting up a series of military bases and preventing anyone else from doing the same.

"Although the USA was supposed to prepare the Micronesians for self-government, the Americans preferred a combination of neglect and increased dependency. The economy relied entirely on government services and money flowing from the USA, and had absolutely no industrial or agricultural basis. In 1965, the US agreed to form a Congress of Micronesia - a body elected by islanders to determine the islands' future - but executive control remained with the US High Commissioner. And, just in case, the CIA bugged the Congress' offices.

"The arrival of a whole bunch of idealistic young Peace Corps volunteers in 1966 did nothing for the US cause. Although they were supposed to spread the word about the wonders of American society, they ended up educating the Micronesians about their legal and social rights, thereby sparking off serious moves towards independence. In July 1978, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap voted to share a constitution, and in May 1979 they became the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Under a 15-year compact signed with the USA in 1982, Micronesia agreed to let the US control its relations with other countries and maintain its exclusive military access to the islands. In turn, the US guaranteed annual funding. The compact was officially implemented in 1986. In 1991 the FSM was admitted to the United Nations. In 1997 president Bailey Olter suffered a stroke; he was replaced by his vice president, Jacob Nena. In May 1999 Leo Falcam was elected as president for a two-year term. In the same year the government signed a two-year 'Compact of Free Association' with the US, effectively making it an American protectorate in exchange for a hefty annual injection of funds.

"Recently, the Federated States of Micronesia have been exploring different forms of revenue raising as they are still heavly reliant on US money. Current sources of income are fishing fees, selling its internet domain name (.fm) to radio stations and Sakau (kava) crops." [4]



Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Country profile: Micronesia, BBC, accessed March 2008.
  2. Micronesia, National Geographic, accessed March 2008.
  3. Micronesia (2004), Freedom House, accessed March 2008.
  4. Federated States of Micronesia: History, Lonely Planet, accessed March 2008.

External resources