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Micronesia, Federated States of

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Introduction

Background

The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean; they became part of a UN Trust Territory under US administration following World War II. The eastern four island groups adopted a constitution in 1979 and chose to become the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). (The westernmost island group became Palau.) Independence came in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the US, which was amended in 2004. The COFA has been a force for stability and democracy in the FSM since it came into force in 1986. Present concerns include economic uncertainty after 2023 when direct US economic assistance is scheduled to end, large-scale unemployment, overfishing, overdependence on US foreign aid, and state perceptions of inequitable allocation of US aid.

As a signatory to the COFA with the US, eligible Micronesians can live, work, and study in any part of the US and its territories without a visa - this privilege reduces stresses on the island economy and the environment. Micronesians serve in the US armed forces and military recruiting from the Federated States of Micronesia, per capita, is higher than many US states.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Oceania, island group in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Indonesia

Geographic coordinates

6 55 N, 158 15 E

Area

total: 702 sq km

land: 702 sq km

water: 0 sq km (fresh water only)

note: includes Pohnpei (Ponape), Chuuk (Truk) Islands, Yap Islands, and Kosrae (Kosaie)

country comparison to the world: 191

Area - comparative

four times the size of Washington, DC (land area only)

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

6,112 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; heavy year-round rainfall, especially in the eastern islands; located on southern edge of the typhoon belt with occasionally severe damage

Terrain

islands vary geologically from high mountainous islands to low, coral atolls; volcanic outcroppings on Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuuk

Elevation

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: Nanlaud on Pohnpei 782 m

Natural resources

timber, marine products, deep-seabed minerals, phosphate

Land use

agricultural land: 25.5% (2011 est.)

arable land: 2.3% (2011 est.)

permanent crops: 19.7% (2011 est.)

permanent pasture: 3.5% (2011 est.)

forest: 74.5% (2011 est.)

other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km NA (2012)

Population distribution

the majority of the populaton lives in the coastal areas of the high islands; the mountainous interior is largely uninhabited; less than half of the population lives in urban areas

Natural hazards

typhoons (June to December)

Environment - current issues

overfishing; climate change; water pollution, toxic pollution from mining; solid waste disposal

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

composed of four major island groups totaling 607 islands

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Micronesian(s)

adjective: Micronesian; Chuukese, Kosraen(s), Pohnpeian(s), Yapese

Ethnic groups

Chuukese/Mortlockese 49.3%, Pohnpeian 29.8%, Kosraean 6.3%, Yapese 5.7%, Yap outer islanders 5.1%, Polynesian 1.6%, Asian 1.4%, other 0.8% (2010 est.)

Languages

English (official and common language), Chuukese, Kosrean, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro, Kapingamarangi

Religions

Roman Catholic 54.7%, Protestant 41.1% (includes Congregational 38.5%, Baptist 1.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 0.8%, Assembly of God 0.7%), Mormon 1.5%, other 1.9%, none 0.7%, unspecified 0.1% (2010 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 28.88% (male 15,046/female 14,542)

15-24 years: 18.94% (male 9,710/female 9,696)

25-54 years: 40.32% (male 19,903/female 21,395)

55-64 years: 7.24% (male 3,572/female 3,842)

65 years and over: 4.62% (male 2,130/female 2,600) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.2

youth dependency ratio: 48.4

elderly dependency ratio: 6.8

potential support ratio: 14.7 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 26.3 years

male: 25.5 years

female: 27.1 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154

Birth rate

18.65 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Death rate

4.18 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 219

Net migration rate

-20.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 232

Population distribution

the majority of the populaton lives in the coastal areas of the high islands; the mountainous interior is largely uninhabited; less than half of the population lives in urban areas

Urbanization

urban population: 22.9% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 1.05% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

7,000 PALIKIR (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

88 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Infant mortality rate

total: 22.45 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 25.65 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 19.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.17 years

male: 72.06 years

female: 76.4 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 147

Drinking water source

improved: total: 78.6% of population

unimproved: total: 21.4% of population (2017 est.)

Hospital bed density

3.2 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Sanitation facility access

improved: total: 88.3% of population

unimproved: total: 11.7% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: malaria

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Federated States of Micronesia

conventional short form: none

local long form: Federated States of Micronesia

local short form: none

former: New Philippines; Caroline Islands; Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Ponape, Truk, and Yap Districts

abbreviation: FSM

etymology: the term "Micronesia" is a 19th-century construct of two Greek words, "micro" (small) and "nesoi" (islands), and refers to thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean

Government type

federal republic in free association with the US

Capital

name: Palikir

geographic coordinates: 6 55 N, 158 09 E

time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

note 1: Micronesia has two time zones

note 2: Palikir became the new capital of the country in 1989, three years after independence; Kolonia, the former capital, remains the site for many foreign embassies; it also serves as the Pohnpei state capital

Administrative divisions

4 states; Chuuk (Truk), Kosrae (Kosaie), Pohnpei (Ponape), Yap

Independence

3 November 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday

Constitution Day, 10 May (1979)

Constitution

history: drafted June 1975, ratified 1 October 1978, entered into force 10 May 1979

amendments: proposed by Congress, by a constitutional convention, or by public petition; passage requires approval by at least three-fourths majority vote in at least three fourths of the states; amended 1990; note – at least every 10 years as part of a general or special election, voters are asked whether to hold a constitution convention; a majority of affirmative votes is required to proceed

Legal system

mixed legal system of common and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of FSM

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President David W. PANUELO (since 11 May 2019); Vice President Yosiwo P. GEORGE (since 11 May 2015); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President David W. PANUELO (since 11 May 2019); Vice President Yosiwo P. GEORGE (since 11 May 2015)

cabinet: Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of the 8 executive departments

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by Congress from among the 4 'at large' senators for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 11 May 2019 (next to be held in 2023)

election results: David W. PANUELO elected president by Congress; Yosiwo P. GEORGE reelected vice president

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Congress (14 seats; 10 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms and 4 at- large members directly elected from each of the 4 states by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 5 March 2019 (next to be held on 2 March 2021)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 14; composition - men 14, women 0

Judicial branch

highest courts: Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and not more than 5 associate justices and organized into appellate and criminal divisions)

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the FSM president with the approval of two-thirds of Congress; justices appointed for life

subordinate courts: the highest state-level courts are: Chuuk Supreme Court; Korsae State Court; Pohnpei State Court; Yap State Court

International organization participation

ACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IMF, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Akillino Harris SUSAIA (since 24 April 2017)

chancery: 1725 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 223-4383

FAX: [1] (202) 223-4391

consulate(s) general: Honolulu, Tamuning (Guam)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Carmen G. CANTOR (since 31 January 2020)

telephone: [691] 320-2187

embassy: US Embassy in Kolonia, PO Box 1286, Kolonia, Pohnpei, FSM 96941

mailing address: P. O. Box 1286, Kolonia, Pohnpei, 96941; U.S. Embassy in Micronesia, 4120 Kolonia Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-4120

FAX: [691] 320-2186

Flag description

light blue with four white five-pointed stars centered; the stars are arranged in a diamond pattern; blue symbolizes the Pacific Ocean, the stars represent the four island groups of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap

National symbol(s)

four, five-pointed, white stars on a light blue field, hibiscus flower; national colors: light blue, white

National anthem

name: Patriots of Micronesia

lyrics/music: unknown

note: adopted 1991; also known as "Across All Micronesia"; the music is based on the 1820 German patriotic song "Ich hab mich ergeben", which was the West German national anthem from 1949-1950; variants of this tune are used in Johannes Brahms' "Festival Overture" and Gustav Mahler's "Third Symphony"

Economy

Economic overview

Economic activity consists largely of subsistence farming and fishing, and government, which employs two-thirds of the adult working population and receives funding largely - 58% in 2013 – from Compact of Free Association assistance provided by the US. The islands have few commercially valuable mineral deposits. The potential for tourism is limited by isolation, lack of adequate facilities, and limited internal air and water transportation.

Under the terms of the original Compact, the US provided $1.3 billion in grants and aid from 1986 to 2001. The US and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) negotiated a second (amended) Compact agreement in 2002-03 that took effect in 2004. The amended Compact runs for a 20-year period to 2023; during which the US will provide roughly $2.1 billion to the FSM. The amended Compact also develops a trust fund for the FSM that will provide a comparable income stream beyond 2024 when Compact grants end.

The country's medium-term economic outlook appears fragile because of dependence on US assistance and lackluster performance of its small and stagnant private sector.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$390 million (2018 est.)

$348 million (2017 est.)

$389 million (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$328 million (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$3,464 (2018 est.)

$3,493 (2017 est.)

$3,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 191

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 26.3% (2013 est.)

industry: 18.9% (2013 est.)

services: 54.8% (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 83.5% (2013 est.)

government consumption: 48.4% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 29.5% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.9% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 27.5% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -77% (2016 est.)

Agricultural products

coconuts, cassava, vegetables, sweet potatoes, bananas, pork, plantains, fruit, eggs, beef

Industries

tourism, construction; specialized aquaculture, craft items (shell and wood)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 0.9%

industry: 5.2%

services: 93.9% (2013 est.)

note: two-thirds of the labor force are government employees

Budget

revenues: 213.8 million (FY12/13 est.)

expenditures: 192.1 million (FY12/13 est.)

Public debt

24.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

25.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 176

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Current account balance

$12 million (2017 est.)

$11 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Exports - commodities

fish, sakau (kava), betel nuts, black pepper

Imports

$167.8 million (2015 est.)

$258.5 million (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 212

Imports - commodities

food, beverages, clothing, computers, household electronics, appliances, manufactured goods, automobiles, machinery and equipment, furniture, tools

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$203.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$135.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 174

Debt - external

$93.6 million (2013 est.)

$93.5 million (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 194

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 82% (2018)

electrification - urban areas: 93.5% (2018)

electrification - rural areas: 78.7% (2018)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 6,420

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6.23 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 202

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 21,374

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20.74 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 212

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: adequate system, the demand for mobile broadband is increasing due to mobile services being the primary and most wide-spread source for Internet access across the region (2020)

domestic: islands interconnected by shortwave radiotelephone, satellite (Intelsat) ground stations, and some coaxial and fiber-optic cable; mobile-cellular service available on the major islands; fixed line teledensity 6 per 100 and mobile-cellular 21 per 100 (2019)

international: country code - 691; landing points for the Chuukk-Pohnpei Cable and HANTRU-1 submarine cable system linking the Federated States of Micronesia and the US; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

no TV broadcast stations; each state has a multi-channel cable service with TV transmissions carrying roughly 95% imported programming and 5% local programming; about a half-dozen radio stations (2009)

Internet users

total: 36,586

percent of population: 35.3% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 203

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 3,776

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 185

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 6 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2017)

Roadways

note - paved and unpaved circumferential roads, most interior roads are unpaved

Merchant marine

total: 38

by type: general cargo 18, oil tanker 4, other 16 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 128

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Colonia (Tamil Harbor), Molsron Lele Harbor, Pohnepi Harbor

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no military forces; Federated States of Micronesia National Police (2019)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

Illicit drugs

major consumer of cannabis