World Facts

What Is Micronesia?

A subregion of Oceania, Micronesia includes thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

Where Is Micronesia?

Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania located in the western Pacific region, just to the north of the equator. The region is comprised of thousands of small islands of volcanic and coral origin, and five independent nations including the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Also included are US territories such as Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Wake Island. Smaller islands within the region include Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu. In most of these islands there exist several atolls (ring-shaped reef or islands formed or coral), such as the bikini atoll on Marshall Island. Micronesia has close cultural links with the surrounding Polynesian and Melanesian regions.

History Of Micronesia

Micronesia has been inhabited for thousands of years. Colonialists first arrived in the region in 2 BC. The first European settlers to arrive in Micronesia were the Portuguese in 1521. The navigator Ferdinand Magellan was the first Portuguese explorer to arrive on the island and was received cordially. Spanish colonialists arrived in Micronesia in the 17th century. The Spanish occupied Guam, Northern Marinas and the Caroline Islands which they ruled from the Spanish Philippines. American missionaries arrived in the region during the 19th century and were responsible for the conversion of the people in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. Towards the end of the 19th century, Spain lost most of its colonies to America in the Spanish-American war. America took the Spanish Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island. The German Empire bought the Spanish territory by signing the German-Spanish Treaty of 1899. In the 20th century, Micronesia was governed by the US, Germany, and Britain. Germany lost its territories after losing in the First World War. Currently, most of the regions within Micronesia exist as independent states except for Guam and Wake Island which are still territories of the US.

Climate Of Micronesia

Micronesia experiences a tropical marine climate with influence from the northeast trade winds. There are two distinct seasons. The rainy season occurs from July to November/ December, sometimes accompanied by typhoons which cause extensive damage to the island. The dry season occurs between December or January and June. Seasonal temperature variations are minor with the temperature ranging between 26oC and 32ºC.

Biodiversity And Threats To Micronesia

Micronesia is a biologically diverse region with several plant and animal species. It is home to about 61% of the world’s coral species, 1300 reef fish species, 85 bird species, and 1,400 plant species including 200 which are endemic. Mammal species in the region include the dwarf sperm whale, the Chuuk flying bat, the ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, the rough-toothed dolphin, Fraser’s dolphin, and the pygmy killer whale. Out the 12 mammal species in the region, three are critically endangered and two are endangered. Birds in Micronesia include the black-footed albatross, the white-necked petrel, tropical shearwater, red-footed booby, and the great cormorant.

Economy Of Micronesia

The chief economic activities within Micronesia include the sale of fishing rights to foreign bodies, which is the primary source of income to Micronesia. Tourism also contributes to the economy though the sector has a minor contribution, mainly on account of the relative difficulty of reaching the islands.

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