Country Information

Geography

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is part of Oceania, an island group in the North Pacific Ocean. It is situated about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Indonesia. The country itself encompasses 607 islands which have been politically grouped into four states: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. The national capitol is Palikir on the island of Pohnpei.

The climate is tropical with heavy year-round rainfall, especially in the eastern islands. The FSM is located on southern edge of the typhoon belt and occasionally experiences severe storm damage.

The islands vary geologically from high mountainous islands to low, coral atolls. Volcanic outcroppings are prominent on Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuuk.

Ancestors of the Micronesians settled the Caroline Islands over 4,000 years ago. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious empire based principally in Yap and Pohnpei. European explorers–first the Portuguese in search of the Spice Islands and then the Spanish–reached the Carolines in the 16th century, with the Spanish establishing sovereignty. The current FSM passed to German control in 1899, and then through the Treaty of Versailles to the Japanese in 1919. Following World War II, these islands became part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, administered by the United States.

On May 10, 1979, four of the Trust Territory districts ratified a new constitution to become the Federated States of Micronesia. The neighboring trust districts of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands chose not to participate. The FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States in 1986. An Amended Compact entered into force in June 2004.

Nationality

Noun: Microneasian(s)
Adjective: Micronesian; Chuukese, Kosraean(s), Pohnpeian(s), Yapese

Language

Official and Common: English
Other: Chuukese, Kosraean, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro, Kapingamarangi

Population Statistics

Ethnic Groups (2000 census)
Chuukese: 48.8%
Pohnpei: 24.2%
Kosraean: 6.2%
Yapese: 5.2%
Yap outer islander: 4.5%
Aisan: 1.8%
Polynesian: 1.5%
other: 6.4%
unknown: 1.4%

Age Structure (2009, est.)
Age Range % of Total Male Female
0-14 years 34.8% 19,010 18,411
15-64 years 62.3% 33,286 33,629
65 years and over 2.9% 1,317 1,781

Variation Rates
Birth Rate: 23.1 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death Rate: 4.46 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Life Expectancy (2009, est.)
Total population: 70.94 years
Male: 69.06 years
Female: 72.93 years

Government Type

The Federated States of Micronesia is a constitutional government in free association with the United States. The Compact of Free Association entered into force November 3, 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force May 2004.

Executive Branch

The Congress elects the President and Vice President from among the four ‘at-large’ senators (who have a four-year term).  The cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of eight executive departments.

Since May 12, 2015:
President – Peter Christian
Vice President – Yosiwa George

Legislative Branch

Unicameral Congress (14 seats; 4 – one elected from each state to serve four-year terms and 10 – elected from single-member districts delineated by population to serve two-year terms; members elected by popular vote)

Economic activity consists primarily of subsistence farming and fishing. The islands have few mineral deposits worth exploiting, except for high-grade phosphate. The potential for a tourist industry exists, but the remote location, a lack of adequate facilities, and limited air connections hinder development. Under the original terms of the Compact of Free Association, the US provided $1.3 billion in grant aid during the period 1986-2001; the level of aid has been subsequently reduced. The Amended Compact of Free Association with the US guarantees the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) millions of dollars in annual aid through 2023, and establishes a Trust Fund into which the US and the FSM make annual contributions in order to provide annual payouts to the FSM in perpetuity after 2023. The country’s medium-term economic outlook appears fragile due not only to the reduction in US assistance but also to the current slow growth of the private sector.

Gross Domestic Product

$238.1 million (2008 est.), GDP supplemented by grant aid, averaging perhaps $100 million annually. Per capita: $2,200

Composition by Sector (2004 est.)

Agriculture:  28.9%
Industry:     15.2%
Services:     55.9%

Labor Force (FY2005 est.)

Agriculture:    0.9%
Industry:     34.4%
Services*:   64.7%

* – Two-thirds are government employees

Unemployment Rate

22% (2000 est.)

Agriculture

Black pepper, tropical fruits and vegetables, coconuts, bananas, cassava (tapioca), sakau (kava), betel nuts, sweet potatoes; pigs, chickens; fish; Kosraean citrus

Industries

Tourism, construction; fish processing, specialized aquaculture; craft items (from shell, wood, and pearls)

Exports

Fish, garments, bananas, black pepper, sakau (kava), betel nut

Imports

Food, manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, beverages