Micronesia - Tips

Micronesia Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Micronesia

Women play volleyball in Kosrae,
Micronesia April 9, 2004. [© AP
Images]

Flag of Micronesia is light blue with four white five-pointed stars centered;
the stars are arranged in a diamond pattern.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Federated States of Micronesia

Geography
Area: 702 sq. km (about 270 sq. mi.) in four major island groups (Pohnpei,
Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae).
Cities: Capital--Palikir. Other cities--Kolonia, Weno, Colonia, Lelu.
Terrain: 607 mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls.
Climate: Tropical.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Micronesian.
Population: 108,000.
Growth rate: 0.26%.
Ethnic groups: Nine ethnic Micronesian and Polynesian groups.
Religion: Roman Catholic 53%, Protestant 42.4%, others 4.6%.
Language: English, and nine ethnic languages.
Education: Literacy--91%.
Health: Life expectancy--male 65.6 yrs.; female 66.9 yrs. Infant mortality
rate--40.4/1,000.
Work force: More than one-half of workers are government employees.

Government
Type: Constitutional confederation in free association with the U.S. The
first Compact of Free Association entered into force in 1986, and an Amended
Compact entered into force June 30, 2004.
Independence (from U.S.-administered UN trusteeship): November 3, 1986.
Constitution: May 10, 1979.
Branches: Executive--President (chief of state and head of government),
cabinet. Legislative--unicameral Congress with 14 seats. Judicial--Supreme
Court.
Major political parties: No formal parties.

Economy (FY 2004 figures)
GDP: $218 million.
GDP per capita (nominal): $2,018.
National income (GDP + foreign assistance): $360 million.
National income per capita: $3,100.
GDP composition by sector: services 77%, agriculture 19%, industry 4%.
Industry: Types--fishing, agriculture, tourism.
Trade: Exports ($14 million)--fish, kava, betel nut. Export market--Japan
(21%), US (25%), others (53%), U.S. Imports ($133 million)--food,
manufactured goods, fuel. Import sources--U.S. (50%), Japan (11%), others
(39%).
External debt: $ 60.81 million.
Currency: U.S. dollar.

GEOGRAPHY AND PEOPLE
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 607 islands extending
1,800 miles across the archipelago of the Caroline Islands east of the
Philippines. The four states are the island groups of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap,
and Kosrae. The federal capital is Palikir, on Pohnpei.

The indigenous population consists of various ethnolinguistic groups. English
has become the common language. The birth rate remains high at more than 3%,
but the population of the four states remains almost constant due to
emigration.

HISTORY
The 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 centered on Yap. 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 to the Japanese in 1914 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 U.S. in 1986. An Amended Compact entered into force in
June 2004.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The FSM is governed under a 1979 constitution, which guarantees fundamental
human rights and establishes a separation of governmental powers. The
unicameral Congress has 14 members elected by popular vote. Four
senators--one from each state--serve 4-year terms; the remaining 10 senators
represent single-member districts based on population and serve 2-year terms.
The President and Vice President are elected by Congress from among the four
senators who serve in 4-year seats. Once elected, the President and Vice
President serve for four years. Their congressional seats are then filled by
special elections. An appointed cabinet supports the president and vice
president. There are no formal political parties.

The FSM is a confederation with a weak central government. Each of FSM's four
states has its own constitution and its own elected legislature and governor.
The state governments maintain considerable power, particularly regarding the
implementation of budgetary policies.

The FSM's highest court is the Supreme Court, which is divided into trial and
appellate divisions. The President appoints judges with the advice and
consent of the Congress.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State and Government--President Emmanuel Mori
Secretary of Foreign Affairs--Lorin Robert (acting)
Speaker of the Congress--Isaac V. Figir
Ambassador to the U.S.--James A. Naich, Charge d' Affaires
Permanent Representative to the UN--Masao Nakayama

The FSM maintains an Embassy at 1725 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel:
202-223-4383). It also maintains consulates in Honolulu and Guam.

ECONOMY
Under the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the U.S. provided the FSM
with about $2 billion in grants and services between 1986 and 2001. The
Compact's financial terms were renegotiated for the 20-year period 2004
through 2023. The U.S. will provide almost $100 million in direct assistance
every year until 2023, including contributions to a jointly managed Trust
Fund. U.S. grants to the FSM in addition to these funds total approximately
$35 million annually. Assistance under the Amended Compact will be
distributed via grants to the following six sectors: education, health,
infrastructure, public sector capacity building, private sector development,
and the environment.

The FSM public sector plays a central role in the economy as the
administrator of Compact funds. The national and state-level governments
employ over half of the country's workers, government services accounting for
more than 40% of GDP. Real wages nationwide have been flat for the past
decade, as has the number of jobs in the economy (about 15,500.) Private
sector jobs pay about half as much as public sector jobs.

The fishing industry is highly important. Foreign commercial fishing fleets
pay over $14 million annually for the right to operate in FSM territorial
waters. These licensing fees account for 28% of the national government
revenues. Exports of marine products, mainly to Japan, account for nearly 85%
of export revenues.

Visitor attractions include SCUBA diving, World War II battle sites, and the
ancient ruined city of Nan Madol on Pohnpei. Some 18,000 visit the islands
each year. However, the tourist industry has been hampered by a lack of
infrastructure and limited commercial air connections. The Asian Development
Bank has identified tourism as one of FSM's highest potential growth
industries.

Agriculture is mainly subsistence farming. The principal crops are
breadfruit, coconuts, bananas, betel nuts, cassava, taro, and kava. Less than
10% of the formal labor force and less than 7% of export revenue come from
the agricultural sector.

The large inflow of official assistance to FSM allows it to run a substantial
trade deficit--imports outstrip exports by a seven-to-one ratio--and to have
a much lighter tax burden than other states in the region (11% of GDP in FSM
compared to 18%-25% elsewhere). The government borrowed against future
Compact disbursements in the early 1990s, yielding a significant external
debt, close to $60 million. In 2005, the FSM Government and Congress took
positive steps toward nationwide tax system to improve collections and more
fairly distribute the tax burden.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia conducts its own foreign
relations. Since independence, the FSM has established diplomatic relations
with a number of nations, including most of its Pacific neighbors, Japan,
Australia, and the People's Republic of China. Regional cooperation through
various multilateral organizations is a key element in its foreign policy.
The FSM became a member of the United Nations in 1991.

U.S.-MICRONESIAN RELATIONS
The Governments of the FSM and the U.S. entered into the first Compact of
Free Association on November 3, 1986. An Amended Compact entered into force
on June 30, 2004. Under the Compact, the U.S. has full authority and
responsibility for the defense of the FSM. This security relationship can be
changed or terminated by mutual agreement. The U.S. will provide about $100
million annually in assistance to the FSM over the next 20 years. A Joint
Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) consisting of representatives of both
nations will ensure that assistance funds are spent effectively. The basic
relationship of free association continues indefinitely.

Under the Amended Compact of Free Association, Americans can live and work
freely in the FSM without the need for a visa.

The United States is the FSM's largest trade partner. See the FSM Country
Commercial Guide at http://www.buyusainfo.net/ for further information on the
business climate of the FSM.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Suzanne K. Hale
Deputy Chief of Mission--Richard K. Pruett
Management Officer--Michael Pace

The mailing address for the U.S. Embassy is P.O. Box 1286, Kolonia, Pohnpei,
Federated States of Micronesia 96941. Telephone: 691-320-2187. Fax:
691-320-2186. Email: USEmbassy@mail.fm.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/
Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security
conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
************************************************************
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