Official name: Federated States of Micronesia
Area: 702 square kilometers (271 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Totolom (791 meters/2,595 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zones: In Pohnpei and Kosrae, 10 P.M. = noon GMT; in Yap and Chuuk, 9 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 2,898 kilometers (1,800 miles) east to west from Kosrae to Yap
Land boundaries: None
Coastline: 6,112 kilometers (3,798 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
The country of Micronesia comh2ises several islands in the North Pacific Ocean that are part of a larger group known as the Carolinian archipelago. In turn, this archipelago is located within a region that is also known as Micronesia, which belongs to the larger region known as Oceania. The country is located about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Indonesia. With an area of about 702 square kilometers (271 square miles), the country is about four times the size of Washington, D.C. Micronesia is divided into four states.
Micronesia has no outside territories or dependencies.
The climate in Micronesia is maritime tropical, with little seasonal or diurnal (dayto-night) variation in temperature, which averages 27°C (80°F) year-round. Average humidity is 80 percent.
The northeast trade winds that prevail during November, December, April, and May frequently bring heavy rainfall. The short and torrential nature of the rainfall, which decreases from east to west, results in an annual average of 508 centimeters (200 inches) of rain in Pohnpei and 305 centimeters (120 inches) in Yap. Pohnpei is one of the wettest places on Earth. The eastern islands are located on the southern edge of the typhoon belt and occasionally suffer severe damage from typhoons, which are a threat from June through December.
The country of Micronesia covers the second-largest land and sea area in the region, which is also known as Micronesia. Its four states consist of four major island groups. From east to west, they are Kosrae, Pohnpei (Ponape), Chuuk (formerly Truk), and Yap Islands. The territory is made up of 607 islands, including mountainous islands of volcanic origin and coral atolls, forty of which are a significant size. Only sixty-five of the islands are inhabited. The outer islands of all states are mainly coral atolls. The primary economic activities are subsistence farming and fishing. Tourism is an emerging industry, catering mostly to sport scuba divers; geographical isolation and a lack of adequate lodging and infrastructure hinder development, however.
The Pacific Ocean surrounds the nation of Micronesia.
The Truk Lagoon is one of the largest enclosed lagoons in the world, encircled by a 225-kilometer- (140-mile-) long barrier reef and covering an area of 2,129 square kilometers (822 square miles). Ports and harbors are located at Colonia (Yap), Kolonia (Pohnpei), Lele (Kosrae), and Moen (Chuuk).
Within Micronesia, each of the four states centers on one or more "high islands." Kosrae, the smallest and easternmost state, consists of five closely situated islands, but is essentially one high island of 119 square kilometers (42 square miles). Pohnpei (344 square kilometers/133 square miles) consists of the single large island of Pohnpei (137 square kilometers/130 square miles), twenty-five smaller islands within a barrier reef, and 137 outer islands, of which the major atolls are Mokil, Pingelap, Kapingamarangi, Nukuoro, and Ngatik. Chuuk (Truk) (127 square kilometers/49 square miles) includes the large Truk Lagoon, which encloses ninety-eight islands, plus the major outer island groups which include the Mortlocks, Halls, Western, and Namwunweito Islands. Yap (118 square kilometers/46 square miles), the westernmost state, consists of four large islands and seven smaller islands surrounded by barrier reefs, plus 134 outer islands, of which the largest are Ulithi and Woleai.
There is moderately heavy tropical vegetation; tree species include tropical hardwoods on the slopes of higher volcanic islands and coconut palms on the coral atolls. Pohnpei and Kosrae have the only remaining patches of mountain cloud forest in Micronesia. Forest covers 40 percent of total land area in the Yap Islands, but it is largely secondary growth.
Low sheltered coastal areas of Micronesia are covered with mangrove forests. The Chuuk islands are an "almost atoll," encircled by a barrier reef. Of the eighty countries that have coral reefs, Micronesia ranks thirteenth in area; it contains 1.53% of the world's reefs, spanning 11,241 square kilometers (4,340 square miles). During the past century, Micronesia's coral reefs suffered from soil erosion resulting from logging, agriculture, major coastal construction (dredging and filling), military occupation, and World War II battles, along with the poaching of giant clams, sharks, trochus (marine gastropod), and other commercial species from remote reefs.
The four states of Micronesia have a total of 7,164 square kilometers (2,766 square miles) of lagoons within their coastal borders.
Pohnpei, the largest and tallest island in Micronesia, has peaks that receive much rainfall annually, creating more than forty rivers that feed the upper rain forest and create spectacular waterfalls.
There are no desert regions in Micronesia.
There are no substantial plains, hills, or valleys in Micronesia.
Oceania refers to the islands in the region that covers the central and southern Pacific Ocean and its adjacent seas. The boundaries for this region are the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the southern tip of New Zealand. The region known as Micronesia, a division of Oceania in the western Pacific Ocean, includes the islands east of the Philippines and north of the equator. The Caroline, Marshall, Mariana, and Gilbert Islands are all a part of the region of Micronesia.
The state of Kosrae is largely mountainous, with two main peaks: Fenkol (Mount Crozer) (634 meters/2,080 feet) and Matanti (583 meters/1,913 feet). Pohnpei contains a large volcanic island, with the highest elevation at Mount Totolom (791 meters/2,595 feet), which is also the highest point in the country. Chuuk has fourteen islands that are mountainous and of volcanic origin. Yap has four large, high islands; this state's highest point is Mount Tabiwol (178 meters/584 feet). Yap is situated at the southern end of a submerged ridge; volcanic land formation has occurred in its five largest island clusters.
There are no significant caves or canyons in Micronesia.
There are no plateau regions in Micronesia.
There are no significant man-made structures affecting the geography of Micronesia.
Ashby, Gene, ed. Some Things of Value: Micronesian Customs and Beliefs . Eugene, OR: Rainy Day Press, 1985.
Karolle, Bruce G. Atlas of Micronesia . 2nd ed. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bess Press, 1993.
Kluge, P. F. The Edge of Paradise: America in Micronesia. New York: Random House, 1991.
Government of the Federated States of Micronesia. http://www.fsmgov.org/info/index.html (accessed April 24, 2003).