I just realised that I never actually did this. Well, I’m doing it now… here are some facts and figures (and photos) of the country we’re in now.
Where is it?
The Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of around 607 islands, spread over 2700kms in the Pacific Ocean. My sister has been explaining it to people by saying that from East Coast Australia, you go up to Indonesia, turn right, then go up a bit more, and she’s about right.
The National Capital is Palikir, on the island of Pohnpei, in the State of Pohnpei. We are living in Kolonia, which is on the island of Pohnpei, and is the State Capital.
People, Economy and Politics
- Population: 106,836
- Languages: There are 8 major indigenous languages including Chuukese, Kosrean, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro, Kapingamarangi. English is the official language.
- Ethnic Groups: Chuukese 48.8%, Pohnpeian 24.2%, Kosraean 6.2%, Yapese 5.2%, Yap outer islands 4.5%, Asian 1.8%, Polynesian 1.5%, other 6.4%, unknown 1.4% (this is according to the CIA world fact book, but as I understand it there are a number of other groups, such as the Mortlockese that might be hidden here as “other” or “outer island”).
- Religion: Roman Catholic 52.7%, Congregational 40.1%, Baptist 0.9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 0.7%, other 3.8%, none or unspecified 0.8%
- Median Age: 22.7
- Life expectancy: 71 years
- Education: The CIA has no data, but I’ve seen one study that says that of people my age (26) and older, 60% of women and 40% of men did not finish Primary School. Hopefully this is changing for people of school age now, and there are primary, middle, high schools and a college on the Island.
- GDP Per capita: $2,200
- Unemployment rate: 22.7%
- Population below poverty line: 26%
- The economy here is based on subsistence farming and fishing, and money from the US Government under a Compact agreed to last until 2023.
- The governmentis a Constitutional Democracy in free association with the US. There is a national Congress, and governments at the State level. There is also a tribal-like system in Pohnpei, which runs parallel to the elected government, although I’ve been told that in the proverbial fight the elected government would win.
Stuff you didn’t know about Micronesia
- There are no bees. Apparently they never made it here (it is a bit isolated). As such some crops need to be pollinated by hand.
- All the electricity in Pohnpei is generated by burning diesel. This makes electricity three times more expensive than it is in Australia, which must impact very heavily on people considering a much lower standard of income.
- In Yap (the state closest to Indonesia, and furthest from the other states) stone money is used.
- Even though it is an island in the pacific, there is actually no real beach on Pohnpei, as it is surrounded in thick mangrove forest.. There are a few man-made ones, and a lot of pretty outer island to visit if you want a swim though.
- They drive on the right hand side of the road, but in cars with either left or right hand drive.