Guest Author - Laura Hartney
There are three primary island groups that make up the tropical islands of the area called Oceania in the Pacific Ocean - Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. This article lists highlights of the islands that form the island group called Micronesia.
Geographically Micronesia lies west of Polynesia, north of Melanesia and east of the Philippines. That puts it primarily in the North Pacific Ocean, though its southernmost islands straddle the equator. It incorporates thousands of small islands and islets, with a land area totaling about 1200 sq. mi., covering over 3 million square miles of water in the western Pacific Ocean.
In order of size, the island groups/countries that make up Micronesia are:
Kiribati 313 sq. mi.; population 102,000
An independent nation straddling both the equator and the International Date Line, Kiribati is the only country in the world that falls in all four hemispheres. 33 coral atolls, 21 of which are inhabited, spread over 1.3 million square miles. One of the poorest countries in the world it has minimal tourist facilities. Popular tourist activities include sailing, snorkeling, and exploring the local culture.
Federated States of Micronesia 270 sq. mi.; population 111,000
An independent country in the Caroline Islands made up of four primary island groups (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae) with over 600 islands (only 65 of which are inhabited), spread over 1,000,000 sq. mi. of ocean east of Palau and the Philippines. Due to its remoteness, there are minimal tourist facilities on these islands. Popular tourist activities include scuba diving, especially in Truk Lagoon with a sunken Japanese fleet, snorkeling, and exploring the local culture.
Guam 210 sq. mi.; population 186,000
A territory of the United States (and one of its primary military bases in the Pacific), Guam is the largest single island in Micronesia, and the southernmost island in the Marianas Archipelago, about three quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. Guam has a flourishing tourism business comprised mostly of Japanese and other Asian visitors. Popular tourist activities include scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports, duty free shopping, hiking and visiting historical sites.
Northern Mariana Islands 179 sq. mi.; population 45,000
A commonwealth, or territory, of the United States, the Northern Mariana Islands consist of 14 islands, only three of which are inhabited; southern islands are limestone with fringing coral reefs while the northern islands are volcanic. Popular tourist activities include scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports, golfing, gambling and visiting historical sites.
Palau 177 sq. mi.; population 21,000
An independent nation in the westernmost part of Micronesia, roughly 500 miles southeast of the Philippines, Palau is an archipelago made up of over 300 islands, only 8 of which are inhabited. Remote and not easily accessible, it still has a high tourist trade due to superb dive sites. Popular tourist activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, visiting historical sites (both ancient cultural history and World War II history), kayaking, wildlife and bird-watching, and photography.
Marshall Islands 70 sq. mi.; population 68,000
An independent nation made up of two archipelagos containing 29 atolls and five single islands located north of Kiribati and east of the Federated States of Micronesia. Popular tourist activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, and enjoying the local culture.
Nauru 8 sq. mi.; population 9,000
An independent nation; single island south of the Marshall Islands that has a sandy beach rising to a fertile ring around raised coral reefs with a phosphate plateau in the center. Most of the islands income has come from mining the phosphate. Given the small size and remoteness of the island, there is not a lot in the way of tourist facilities. Popular tourist activities include scuba diving and snorkeling.
Wake Island 2.5 sq. mi.; population 150
An unincorporated territory and military base of the United States, Wake Island is an atoll of three low coral islands, about two thirds of the way from Hawaii to the Northern Mariana Islands. There are no indigenous inhabitants and only about 150 military and contractor personnel servicing the military landing strip and communication facilities. As of January 6, 2009, Wake Island was included in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. No tourism.
Note: no promotional consideration was provided or paid for this article.