Introducing Federated States of Micronesia
Often referred to as 'Micronesia', the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is often assumed to be simply another island agglomeration, like the Northern Mariana Islands perhaps, with a shared cultural identity. Yet the FSM tag is an arbitrary construct, lumping together the four unique states of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap; about the only element they share is a history of oppression and occupation under various colonial powers.
The four states have distinct cultures, traditions and identities, as colourful and diverse as the multitudes of coral formations that live in their fringing reefs. Chuuk is renowned for its wreck diving - explore an underwater WWII 'museum' that's hailed as one of the world's ultimate aquatic experiences; Yap is the most traditional state, resisting the onslaught of Western mores with true island spirit; Kosrae is a Pacific paradise, possibly the FSM's most beautiful island; while Pohnpei is home to mysterious ancient ruins and a plethora of lush landforms.
Travellers looking to experience a variety of lifestyles are in luck. Kosraeans are true believers; Kosrae is a state where everything shuts down on Sunday and full focus is given to vibrant all-singing, all-dancing church ceremonies (with a relaxed island twist, naturally). Yap's people retain their culture, their skills, their architecture, their customs, their religions, their gigantic stone money - it's an eternally fascinating place. Pohnpei retains its system of chiefs and clan titles, a distant style of governance that still exerts significant social and political influence. Then there's misunderstood Chuuk - although the island is just starting to come to terms with international tourism, the uncompromising nature of the Chuukese holds firm.
If you can't find something to expand your world-view in the FSM, check your pulse.