History of the Federated States of Micronesia

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The Federated States of Micronesia are located on the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific Ocean.



The ancestors of the Micronesians settled there over 4,000 years ago. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious empire centered on Yap. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious Micronesian Empire centered on Yap.

Nan Madol, consisting of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals, is often called the Venice of the Pacific. It is located near the island of Pohnpei and used to be the ceremonial and political seat of the Saudeleur Dynasty that united Pohnpei's estimated 25,000 people from about 500 until 1500 CE, when the centralized system collapsed.


European explorers - first the Portuguese in search of the Spice Islands (Indonesia) and then the Spanish - reached the Carolines in the 16th century, with the Spanish establishing sovereignty.

It was sold to Germany in 1899. In 1914 German administration ended when the Japanese navy took military possession of the Marshall, Caroline and Northern Mariana Islands.


Japan began its formal administration under a League of Nations mandate in 1920. During this period, extensive settlement resulted in a Japanese population of over 100,000 throughout Micronesia while the indigenous population was about 40,000. Sugar cane, mining, fishing and tropical agriculture became the major industries.

During World War II, a significant portion of the Japanese fleet was based in Truk Lagoon. In February 1944, Operation Hailstone, one of the most important naval battles of the war, took place at Truk, in which many Japanese support vessels and aircraft were destroyed.

World War II brought an abrupt end to the relative prosperity experienced during Japanese civil administration. By the War's conclusion most infrastructure had been laid waste by bombing, and the islands and people had been exploited by the Japanese Military to the point of impoverishment.

United Nations

The United Nations created the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) in 1947. Ponape (then including Kusaie), Truk, Yap, Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands, together constituted the TTPI. The United States accepted the role of Trustee of this, the only United Nations Trusteeship to be designated as a "Security Trusteeship", whose ultimate disposition was to be determined by the UN Security Council. As Trustee the US was to "promote the economic advancement and self-sufficiency of the inhabitants."

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