U.S. Department of State Background Note
|Women play volleyball in Kosrae, Micronesia April 9, 2004. [© AP Images]|
Federated States of Micronesia
Economy(FY 2004 figures)
The indigenous population consists of various ethnolinguistic groups. English has become the common language. The birth rate remains high at more than 3%, but the population of the four states remains almost constant due to emigration.
On May 10, 1979, four of the Trust Territory districts ratified a new constitution to become the Federated States of Micronesia. The neighboring trust districts of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands chose not to participate. The FSM signed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. in 1986. An Amended Compact entered into force in June 2004.
The FSM is a confederation with a weak central government. Each of FSM's four states has its own constitution and its own elected legislature and governor. The state governments maintain considerable power, particularly regarding the implementation of budgetary policies.
The FSM’s highest court is the Supreme Court, which is divided into trial and appellate divisions. The President appoints judges with the advice and consent of the Congress.
Principal Government Officials
The FSM maintains an Embassy at 1725 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel: 202-223-4383). It also maintains consulates in Honolulu and Guam.
The FSM public sector plays a central role in the economy as the administrator of Compact funds. The national and state-level governments employ over half of the country's workers, government services accounting for more than 40% of GDP. Real wages nationwide have been flat for the past decade, as has the number of jobs in the economy (about 15,500.) Private sector jobs pay about half as much as public sector jobs.
The fishing industry is highly important. Foreign commercial fishing fleets pay over $14 million annually for the right to operate in FSM territorial waters. These licensing fees account for 28% of the national government revenues. Exports of marine products, mainly to Japan, account for nearly 85% of export revenues.
Visitor attractions include SCUBA diving, World War II battle sites, and the ancient ruined city of Nan Madol on Pohnpei. Some 18,000 visit the islands each year. However, the tourist industry has been hampered by a lack of infrastructure and limited commercial air connections. The Asian Development Bank has identified tourism as one of FSM's highest potential growth industries.
Agriculture is mainly subsistence farming. The principal crops are breadfruit, coconuts, bananas, betel nuts, cassava, taro, and kava. Less than 10% of the formal labor force and less than 7% of export revenue come from the agricultural sector.
The large inflow of official assistance to FSM allows it to run a substantial trade deficit--imports outstrip exports by a seven-to-one ratio--and to have a much lighter tax burden than other states in the region (11% of GDP in FSM compared to 18%-25% elsewhere). The government borrowed against future Compact disbursements in the early 1990s, yielding a significant external debt, close to $60 million. In 2005, the FSM Government and Congress took positive steps toward nationwide tax system to improve collections and more fairly distribute the tax burden.
Under the Amended Compact of Free Association, Americans can live and work freely in the FSM without the need for a visa.
The United States is the FSM’s largest trade partner. See the FSM Country Commercial Guide at http://www.buyusainfo.net/ for further information on the business climate of the FSM.
Principal U.S. Officials
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.
The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov
Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.
Revised: Jun. 2007