Micronesia Geography and Population

Micronesia, (from the micro ‘ and gr. Nesos ‘ island’), one of the three archipelagos into which the islands of the Pacific Ocean are traditionally divided; the others are Polynesia and Melanesia. Micronesia includes the islands west of the date line and north of the equator; a total of over 2000 islands, almost all very small. The total land area is less than 2000 km2 (like Lolland-Falster), spread over 9 million km2 sea; in total approximately 500,000 residents Through the 1900’s. the islands have been subject to German, Japanese and most recently American colonization; many of them were heavily destroyed during the Pacific War (1941-45). Most are now formally self-employed, but remain closely associated with the United States. From west to east lie the independent states of Palau, the United States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands; north of this the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, both of which have local self-government under the United States. Nauru and the former British Gilbert Islands, now Kiribati, furthest east, are also considered to be Micronesia.

The islands all have a tropical climate, and traditionally coconut palms and fishing have formed the livelihood of the population. Many micronesian societies are now completely dependent on labor offers from the US military and, in general, on US aid, and imported food, video, and canned beer are today conspicuous cultural elements, while the original business cultures have disappeared in most places. A large number of Christian churches form an important part of daily life; they carry on more than 100 years of tradition of extensive missionary work in Micronesia.

Several of the islands have served as experimental areas for U.S. nuclear weapons, see Eniwetok and Bikini.

Ethnography

The Micronesian peoples have a number of common traditional ways of life, but there are also regional differences. Early on, a scattered family-based form of settlement was widespread, and actual villages and towns were rare in pre-European times. Micronesian societies were characterized by a genealogical organization with song, dance, storytelling and body decoration as basic forms of expression.

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The community organization can be seen in the context of the different types of islands and archipelagos. Thus, the extended family is the main unit of society in Kiribati (Gilbert Islands) and the Marshall Islands, archipelagos consisting exclusively of low islands (coral atolls), while on high volcanic islands such as Yap and Chuuk (Truk) developed principalities with clearly defined hierarchies. Previously, chiefdoms of the volcanic islands dominated the surrounding atolls, but they also served as refuges, where populations from low islands could reside in periods after devastating cyclones.

At Yap, the population was divided into two main classes, one of which controlled all arable land. Micronesian inheritance law preferably follows the female line; exceptions are Kiribati and southern Palau. Marriages are predominantly monogamous.

For centuries, the Micronesians possessed highly advanced navigation skills that enabled them to travel between remote islands and atolls in small outcrop canoes. The specific positions and navigated based on in-depth knowledge of the interference of ocean waves.

Religion

The cosmos is populated by gods and spirits of nature, and the myths tell how the world was created by either a male or a female deity and about the exploits of the gods (including the trickster god Olofats) in ancient times. But crucial in religion is the ancestral cult. The rituals are centered on skull worship, and the ancestors are invoked by the media (makana), through which they proclaim their displeasure or benevolence to the genus. Male magicians take care of life’s critical challenges and they fight witchcraft and sorcery. Rituals performed in connection with death are the most important of the rites of passage, but the girls’ first menstruation is also marked with intricate rituals. The fertility of the fields and the health of men are taken care of by the women. For culture and traditions of Micronesia, please check calculatorinc.

History

The first people in the area originally came from Indonesia and East Asia, and they settled in the western part of Micronesia approximately 3500-2000 BC Since 1521, rival foreign powers have shaped the development. The brutal Spanish colonization that began in the Marianas in 1668 claimed many lives as a result of the introduction of new diseases, forced relocations, and forced Christianization. After the loss of Guam to the United States in 1898, Spain withdrew from Micronesia the following year, while Germany and Britain established protectorates of, respectively. Marshall and Gilbert Islands. From World War I, Japan took control of most of the area and controlled it on a mandate from the League of Nations. After World War II, the United States took control, committing to the UN to develop its peoples into self-government and independence.