November 8, 2009

Constitution Day in Pohnpei, Micronesia

  Micronesia is the name for a large chunk of the western Pacific Ocean that is scattered with hundreds of small islands. (This region is near Melanesia to the south, Polynesia to the east, and Indonesia and the Philippines to the west.) One of the largest islands is Pohnpei. The Micronesian islands were settled about four thousand years ago, and at one time there was an empire centered on the island of Yap. However, in historic times European and Asian powers fought over, and sometimes took over, various islands. 

Since 1986 the Federated States of Micronesia is now an independent, democratic country of only 702 square kilometers (271 square miles) scattered over many different islands. (Not all the islands in the Micronesia region chose to join the federation.) Pohnpei is one of the four states of FSM, and the capital city of the country, Palikir, is on that island. Island with the Most-est Not only is Pohnpei the largest island in FSM, it is:
  • the highest,
  • the most populated,
  • the most developed,
  • the wettest (the only wetter place on the entire earth, according to Wikipedia, is Mt. Wai'ale'ale on the Hawaiian island of Kauai),
  • one of the most welcoming of outsiders,
  • one of the best surfing spots in the world,
  • and one of the best examples of biodiversity. That just means that there are a lot of different sorts of plants and animals on the island and its barrier reef.


Pohnpei is also the site of a ruined offshore city called Nan Madol, the Venice of the Pacific. Built between 800 and 1500 C.E. (A.D.), it is made up of many artificial islands linked by canals.

Umm...what's a Barrier Reef? Coral reefs are fairly common off the coasts of continents and especially islands in tropical areas. They are colorful sea habitats that are stony turrets, mounds, and plantlike structures created by living coral animals (tiny relatives of jellyfish). They are wonderful places for many different sea creatures to live and hide and hunt, and they are terrific places for humans to visit by snorkeling or scuba diving. A barrier reef is a coral reef that is built up near or partially around an island, with a deep lagoon between the land and the reef.
To learn about reef creatures, try these fun activities (which are based on Australia's nearby Great Barrier Reef): A Game: A Virtual Dive:

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