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Country Fast Facts: Micronesia


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This region consists of many hundreds of small islands spread over a large region of the western Pacific. The only empire known to have originated in Micronesia was based in Yap.

The term "Micronesia" was first proposed to distinguish the region in 1831 by Jules Dumont d'Urville; before this the term "Polynesia" was in use to generally describe the islands of the Pacific.

Much of the area was to come under European domination quite early. Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Caroline Islands (what would later become the FSM and Palau) were colonized early by the Spanish. These island territories were part of the Spanish East Indies and governed from Spanish Philippines since the early 17th century until 1898.

Full European expansion did not come, however, until the early 20th century, when the area would be divided between: the United States, which took control of Guam following the Spanish-American War of 1898, and colonized Wake Island;
Germany, which took Nauru and bought the Marshall, Caroline, and Northern Mariana Islands from Spain; and
the British Empire, which took the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati).

In 1979 the Federated States of Micronesia, a UN Trust Territory under US administration, adopted a constitution.

In 1986 independence was attained under a Compact of Free Association with the US, which was amended and renewed in 2004.

Present concerns include large-scale unemployment, overfishing, and overdependence on US aid.

Source: CIA World Fact Book