What is Micronesia? - Answers

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What is Micronesia?

Infographic elaborating Micronesia

First things first – Micronesia and Federated States of Micronesia are not the same. Micronesia is a sub region in the western part of Oceania comprising thousands of islands. It is one of the three prominent regions that Oceania is divided into, with the other two being Polynesia and Melanesia. As the name itself suggests, the islands of Micronesia are so small that the total area of the region is bare thousand square miles. Guam – the largest island in the region itself, covers only 225 square miles, and sustains the highest population in the entire region, that is, 162,896 as of July 2016 estimates. Federated States of Micronesia, on the other hand, is a country located in this region comprising around 607 islands. There are other sovereign countries that have politically divided the region, namely: Palau, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, and Nauru. Three U.S. territories also exist in the region namely: Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Wake Island.

Numerous theories suggest that the region was inhabited several millennia ago, with the earliest archaeological traces belonging to 1500 BCE. These were found in the island of Saipan. The European contact is known to have first established in 1521, upon the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan – the well known Portuguese explorer – to the Marianas. By the 17th century, Spain had acquired control over Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Caroline Islands – forming ‘Spanish East Indies’. However, following the Spanish-American war and German-Spanish treaty, the region was subsequently divided under the control of the United States, Spain, Germany and the British Empire. It was later by the end of 20th century, that the islands gained independence. As of 21st century, all the states of Micronesia, apart from Guam and Wake Island are independent.

The economy of Micronesia majorly thrives on fishing, vegetation and tourism. The major agricultural products include betel nut, black pepper, cassava, sweet potatoes or ca-motes, coconuts, fruits and vegetables. The cuisines people indulge in are mostly tropical, for example the dish named Kelaguen is quite famous. When it comes to art, the traditional architecture and weaving still prevails, even though the historical tradition of sculpture creation has ceased. The culture remains diverse, but the cultural integrity has downsized owing to the impact of globalization.

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