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Country Profile : Micronesia

Country profile: Micronesia

Map of Micronesia

Micronesia, in the western Pacific, consists of some 600 islands grouped into four states: Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk) and Yap.

Occupying a very small total land mass, it is scattered over an ocean expanse five times the size of France.

Though formally independent, in 1986 Micronesia signed a "Compact of Free Association" with the US. Under this, Washington took on responsibility for defence and gained the right to set up military bases and deny other nations access to Micronesia.

Overview

In return, Micronesia received financial assistance averaging $100m per year, and the right of Micronesians to live and work in the US. Micronesia also takes its cue from Washington on foreign policy.

A renegotiated 20-year compact, worth $3.5 billion to Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, was signed by US President George W Bush in December 2003. Some of the money is being diverted into trust funds, intended to provide a financial resource for Micronesia after the compact expires.

Despite its small population and the large amount of incoming aid from the US, Japan and elsewhere, Micronesia has relatively high unemployment, a matter compounded by increasing numbers of Filipino migrant workers.

Many Micronesians live without electricity or running water, which is in short supply and is sometimes rationed. The gap between rich and poor is increasing as businessmen and officials benefit disproportionately from US aid donations.

Micronesia's biggest challenge is to find a way of lessening its dependence on foreign aid. Given the islands' splendid beaches and scuba diving opportunities, tourism offers one possibility, but this is constrained by the lack of adequate infrastructure and the islands' remoteness.

Facts

  • Full name: Federated States of Micronesia
  • Population: 111,000 (UN, 2009)
  • Capital: Palikir
  • Area: 700 sq km (270 sq miles)
  • Major languages: English, Trukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosrean
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 68 years (men), 69 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 US dollar = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Fish, garments, bananas, black pepper, copra
  • GNI per capita: US $2,340 (World Bank, 2008)
  • Internet domain: .fm
  • International dialling code: +691

Leaders

President: Emanuel "Manny" Mori

Emanuel "Manny" Mori was chosen as the country's seventh president in May 2007, defeating the incumbent Joseph Urusemal. The president is elected every four years by the congress.

Mr Mori is from Chuuk, the largest and most populous state in the four-state federation.

He was the executive vice president of the Bank of the Federated States of Micronesia from 1997 until his election as a senator in 1999. Apart from working as a banker he also worked in the civil service.

Mr Mori is of Japanese descent. He is married and has four daughters.

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.

The press

  • The National Union - fortnightly bulletin published by federal government
  • The Island Tribune - private weekly
  • Pohnpei Business News
  • Micronesia Weekly

Television

  • KPON TV - Pohnpei, commercial
  • TTTK TV - Chuuk, commercial
  • WAAB TV - Yap, government

Radio

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