Micronesia is a collective term for an “archipelago” of over 2,000 tropical islands and atolls, which are scattered over over seven million square kilometers of the western Pacific Ocean. Geographically, almost all of the islands are north of the equator. The distance from one end of Micronesia to the other is almost 4000 kilometers. Micronesia is made up of not just one country, but several independent countries that were once part of the Pacific Islands Trust Territory.
The term Micronesia is derived from the ancient Greek: μικρός mikros = small and νῆσοι nēsoi = islands – means “small islands”.
The nine island groups of Micronesia are Guam (the only southern Mariana Islands), the Republic of Palau (Belau), the northern Marianas, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati ; Moreover, the four (along with Palau as Karolinen designated) islands Yap, Chuuk, Senyavin Islands (with Pohnpei) and Kosrae Islands, which together form the FSM form. Each of these island groups has its own culture, language and history.
The UN Statistics Division counts the following states and territories in Micronesia:
- Marshall Islands
- Northern Mariana Islands
Micronesia has an eventful history: in the early 19th century, many of the islands were popular ports of call for whalers. Colonial powers settled here and later.
Until the Spanish-American n War in 1898, the islands were in addition to the Gilbert Islands to Spain. Guam was annexed by the USA, the Carolines and Mariana Islands bought Germany from Spain in 1899. The Marshall Islands had been under German protection since October 1885. The Gilbert Islands had been acquired by Great Britain in 1892.
After the First World War, the German islands fell to the League of Nations. In 1920 they became a Japanese Mandate (Japanese South Sea Mandate).
I m World War II was the region scene of bitter battles, skirmishes and bomb attacks. In 1947, Micronesia became a United States Trust Territory (Pacific Islands Trust Territory), where they carried out their nuclear weapons tests. Several islands such as Eniwetok and Bikini are still contaminated by nuclear weapons tests to this day.
The islands are often referred to as a “true nature museum” mainly in the lagoons and under water. Many historical witnesses can also be discovered on land in the jungle. The combination of natural phenomena, different cultures, customs and human-made conflicts and their legacies make Micronesia a world-famous and interesting destination for divers.