Micronesia, in the western Pacific, consists of some 600 islands grouped into four states: Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk) and Yap.
Occupying a very small total land mass, it is scattered over an ocean expanse five times the size of France.
Though formally independent, in 1986 Micronesia signed a “Compact of Free Association” with the US. Under this, Washington took on responsibility for defence and gained the right to set up military bases and deny other nations access to Micronesia.
In return, Micronesia received financial assistance averaging $100m per year, and the right of Micronesians to live and work in the US.
A renegotiated 20-year compact, worth $3.5 billion to Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, was signed by US President George W Bush in 2003.
Micronesia’s biggest challenge is to find a way of lessening its dependence on foreign aid, with tourism seen as one possibility.
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Capital: Palikir
- Area 700 sq km (270 sq miles)
- Major languages English, Trukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosrean
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 68 years (men), 70 years (women)
- Currency US dollar