The region known as Micronesia
covers an area of approximately 2.4 million square miles of the
Northern and Central Pacific Ocean, between the Equator and the
Tropic of Cancer from Palau (sometimes known as Belau) and
Guam in the west, to the Marshall islands in the East.
There are 6 Island nations states within the area, the
independent States of Belau (Palau) and the Marshall Islands,
and the four States of Yap, Chuuk, Kosrae and Phonpei which
collectively make up the Federated States of Micronesia.
Guam is also in this area but it is an
Early explorers and
traders from Europe passed through in the 18th century, but the
most prominent visitors were the Spanish in the 19th century,
who discovered the islands during their voyages between their
colonies in South America and the Philippines. After Spains defeat
in the Spanish-American War in the late 1890's, the Spanish sold
Palau and other islands to Germany, who controlled the island
for only 15 years. From 1914 and up to the end of
the Second World War, the Japanese were a major influence on the
region occupying many of the islands, and many japanese workers
were brought in to colonise and develop the islands. At the
end of hostilities, the US liberated the islands and the Japanese
workers and their families were all repatriated to Japan, so
returning the islands to their original native inhabitancy.
Today, the island states still have
a very close relationship with the USA, and all the
states use the US Dollar as their currency. As a consequence
of the American influence, we feel that the Micronesians are less
visibly in touch with their cultural history than their Melanesian
and Polynesian cousins.
The Micronesian island's geography
are all very similar, with one main island on which most of the
population live, and many other smaller outer islands, most of
which are uninhabited and those that are, are often not easily
accessible to overseas visitors. The scenery ranges from
white sandy beaches and coves, teeming with marine life, to lush,
dense jungles, with an abundance of plant and wildlife.
Regrettably, the main town areas
are not so attractive, as they tend to have been developed
around the islands seaport. There has not been much attention
paid to building design or quality, with a high usage of concrete
and corrugated roofing, though things have improved in recent
years, with newer buildings having a more american influence.
There has also been little or no attention paid to controlling
building development to ensure that it complements the islands
natural beauty. Sadly as a result of this, there is almost no
sign of any historic buildings left.
Until recently, the island's
tourism industries have not been of a high priority, though this is
gradually changing as respective Governments try to move away from
accepting foreign aid. The little tourist facalities that
there are is based around scuba diving, as in addition to the
oceans many natural offerings, there are a great number of sunken
war wrecks to be seen. This is especially evident in Truk
lagoon, in the state of Chuuk, where during an attack on the 16th
and 17th of February 1944, American naval aircraft sent 42 Japanese
ships to the bottom of the lagoon, where they have become home to
an abundance of beautiful corals and colourful exotic fish.
Currently, there are no locally
based cruise companies offering cruse itineraries around the
Micronesian Islands. There are a few major cruise companies
operating the large luxury liners, who offer itineraries
across and around the Pacific that will visit some of these
islands, but they are not frequent or on a regular basis.
There are live-aboard dive boats,
that provide a cruise base for scuba divers, however, they are
not for clients who may just want to cruise and not dive.
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