U.S. Department of State Background Note
|Women play volleyball in Kosrae, Micronesia April 9, 2004. [© AP Images]|
Federated States of Micronesia
Area: 702 sq. km (about 270 sq. mi.) in four major island groups (Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae).
Cities: Capital--Palikir. Other cities--Kolonia, Weno, Colonia, Lelu.
Terrain: 607 mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Micronesian.
Growth rate: 0.26%.
Ethnic groups: Nine ethnic Micronesian and Polynesian groups.
Religion: Roman Catholic 53%, Protestant 42.4%, others 4.6%.
Language: English, and nine ethnic languages.
Health: Life expectancy--male 65.6 yrs.; female 66.9 yrs. Infant mortality rate--40.4/1,000.
Work force: More than one-half of workers are government employees.
Type: Constitutional confederation in free association with the U.S. The first Compact of Free Association entered into force in 1986, and an Amended Compact entered into force June 30, 2004.
Independence (from U.S.-administered UN trusteeship): November 3, 1986.
Constitution: May 10, 1979.
Branches: Executive--President (chief of state and head of government), cabinet. Legislative--unicameral Congress with 14 seats. Judicial--Supreme Court.
Major political parties: No formal parties.
Economy(FY 2004 figures)
GDP: $218 million.
GDP per capita (nominal): $2,018.
National income (GDP + foreign assistance): $360 million.
National income per capita: $3,100.
GDP composition by sector: services 77%, agriculture 19%, industry 4%.
Industry: Types--fishing, agriculture, tourism.
Trade: Exports ($14 million)--fish, kava, betel nut. Export market--Japan (21%), US (25%), others (53%), U.S. Imports ($133 million)--food, manufactured goods, fuel. Import sources--U.S. (50%), Japan (11%), others (39%).
External debt: $ 60.81 million.
Currency: U.S. dollar.
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 607 islands extending 1,800 miles across the archipelago of the Caroline Islands east of the Philippines. The four states are the island groups of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae. The federal capital is Palikir, on Pohnpei.
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.
The ancestors of the Micronesians settled the Caroline Islands over 4,000 years ago. A decentralized chieftain-based system eventually evolved into a more centralized economic and religious empire centered on Yap. European explorers--first the Portuguese in search of the Spice Islands and then the Spanish--reached the Carolines in the 16th century, with the Spanish establishing sovereignty. The current FSM passed to German control in 1899, and then to the Japanese in 1914 Following World War II, these islands became part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, administered by the United States.
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 governed under a 1979 constitution, which guarantees fundamental human rights and establishes a separation of governmental powers. The unicameral Congress has 14 members elected by popular vote. Four senators--one from each state--serve 4-year terms; the remaining 10 senators represent single-member districts based on population and serve 2-year terms. The President and Vice President are elected by Congress from among the four senators who serve in 4-year seats. Once elected, the President and Vice President serve for four years. Their congressional seats are then filled by special elections. An appointed cabinet supports the president and vice president. There are no formal political parties.
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
Head of State and Government--President Emmanuel Mori
Secretary of Foreign Affairs--Lorin Robert (acting)
Speaker of the Congress--Isaac V. Figir
Ambassador to the U.S.--James A. Naich, Charge d’ Affaires
Permanent Representative to the UN--Masao Nakayama
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.
Under the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the U.S. provided the FSM with about $2 billion in grants and services between 1986 and 2001. The Compact's financial terms were renegotiated for the 20-year period 2004 through 2023. The U.S. will provide almost $100 million in direct assistance every year until 2023, including contributions to a jointly managed Trust Fund. U.S. grants to the FSM in addition to these funds total approximately $35 million annually. Assistance under the Amended Compact will be distributed via grants to the following six sectors: education, health, infrastructure, public sector capacity building, private sector development, and the environment.
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.
The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia conducts its own foreign relations. Since independence, the FSM has established diplomatic relations with a number of nations, including most of its Pacific neighbors, Japan, Australia, and the People’s Republic of China. Regional cooperation through various multilateral organizations is a key element in its foreign policy. The FSM became a member of the United Nations in 1991.
The Governments of the FSM and the U.S. entered into the first Compact of Free Association on November 3, 1986. An Amended Compact entered into force on June 30, 2004. Under the Compact, the U.S. has full authority and responsibility for the defense of the FSM. This security relationship can be changed or terminated by mutual agreement. The U.S. will provide about $100 million annually in assistance to the FSM over the next 20 years. A Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) consisting of representatives of both nations will ensure that assistance funds are spent effectively. The basic relationship of free association continues indefinitely.
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
Deputy Chief of Mission--Richard K. Pruett
Management Officer--Michael Pace
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