Micronesia is one of three major cultural areas in the Pacific Ocean.
Map of Micronesia

Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest.

The name Micronesia derives from the Greek mikros (μικρός), meaning small, and nesos (νῆσος), meaning island. The term was first proposed to distinguish the region in 1831 by Jules Dumont d'Urville.



Associated islands

The following islands and groups of islands are considered part of Micronesia:

Total Land Area: 1,229.95 square miles (3,185.6 km2)


The only empire known to have originated in Micronesia was based in Yap.

Much of the area came under European domination quite early. In the early 17th Century Spain colonized Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Caroline Islands (what would later become the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau), creating the Spanish East Indies, which was governed from the Spanish Philippines until the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Full European colonization did not come, however, until the early 20th century, when the area would be divided between:

During the World War I, Germany's Pacific island territories were seized and they became League of Nations Mandates in 1923. Nauru became an Australian mandate, while Germany's other territories in Micronesia were given as a mandate to Japan and were named the South Pacific Mandate. Following Japan's defeat in the Second World War, its mandate became a United Nations Trusteeship, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, ruled by the United States.

Today, most of Micronesia are independent states, except for Guam and Wake Island, which are U.S. territories, and for the Northern Mariana Islands, which are a U.S. commonwealth.


The people today form many ethnicities, but are all descended from and belong to the Micronesian culture. The Micronesian culture was one of the last native cultures of the region to develop. It developed from a mixture of Melanesians, Polynesians, and Filipinos. Because of this mixture of descent, many of the ethnicities of Micronesia feel closer to some groups in Melanesia, Polynesia or the Philippines. A good example of this are the Yapese who are related to Austronesian tribes in the Northern Philippines.[1]


The native languages of the various Micronesian indigenous peoples are classified under the Austronesian language family. Almost all of these languages belong to the Oceanic branch of this family, and mostly to the Micronesian languages division within that branch; however, two exceptions are noted in western Micronesia, which are Western Malayo-Polynesian languages:

These are apparently no more closely related to Micronesian languages than they are to languages of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia (Kirch, 2000: pp. 166–167).

On the eastern edge of the Federated States of Micronesia, the languages Nukuoro and Kapingamarangi represent an extreme westward extension of Polynesian.

Regional organizations

The region is home to the Micronesian Games, a quadrennial international multi-sport event involving all Micronesia's countries and territories except Wake Island.

In September 2007, journalists in the region founded the Micronesian Media Association.[2]

See also


  1. ^ http://www.everyculture.com/wc/Mauritania-to-Nigeria/Micronesians.html
  2. ^ Regional journalists form Micronesian media group, Saipan Tribune, 26 September 2007

Further reading

  • Kirch, Patrick Vinton (2000). On the Road of the Winds. An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact. University of California Press. pp. 166–167. ISBN 0-520-22347-0. 
  • Goetzfridt, Nicholas J. and Karen M. Peacock. (2002) Micronesian Histories: An Analytical Bibliography and Guide to Interpretations. Westport. CT: Greenwood Press.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Micronesia — [mī΄krə nē′zhə, mī΄krə nē′shə] [ModL < MICRO + Gr nēsos, island (see NATANT) + IA] country on a group of islands in the W Pacific: 271 sq mi (702 sq km); pop. 108,000; cap. Palikir: official name Federated States of Micronesia …   English World dictionary

  • Micronesia — 1840, from Italian, lit. the region of small islands, Modern Latin, formed on model of POLYNESIA (Cf. Polynesia) from micro small (see MICRO (Cf. micro )) + Gk. nesos island (see CHERSONESE (Cf. Chersonese)). Related: Micronesian …   Etymology dictionary

  • Micronesia — /muy kreuh nee zheuh, sheuh/, n. 1. one of the three principal divisions of Oceania, comprising the small Pacific islands N of the equator and E of the Philippines, whose main groups are the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and the Marshall …   Universalium

  • Micronesia — Mapa de Micronesia. Puesta de sol en Yap …   Wikipedia Español

  • Micronesia — La Micronesia es el nombre de una región del Océano Pacífico y también el nombre común por el que se conoce a los Estados Federados de Micronesia. La región consiste en cientos de pequeñas islas repartidas sobre una amplia extensión del Pacífico… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Micronesia — noun 1. a country scattered over Micronesia with a constitutional government in free association with the United States; achieved independence in 1986 • Syn: ↑Federated States of Micronesia, ↑TT • Instance Hypernyms: ↑country, ↑state, ↑land …   Useful english dictionary

  • Micronesia — Lage Mikronesiens Mikronesien (griech. kleine Inseln) ist ein Inselgebiet im westlichen Pazifischen Ozean. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Geografie 2 Kultur …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Micronesia — noun /ˌmaɪ.kɹəʊˈniː.zi.ə,ˌmaɪ.kɹəʊˈniː.ʒə,ˌmaɪ.kɹəʊˈniː.ʃə,ˌmaɪ.kɹoʊˈniː.ʒə,ˌmaɪ.kɹoʊˈniː.zi.ə/ a) One of the geographical subregions of Oceania. b) A country in Oceania. Official name: the Federated States of Micronesia …   Wiktionary

  • Micronesia — small islands of the western Pacific also known as the Trust Territory including the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau in the Carolines as well as many very small islands covering an area as wide as the United States …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Micronesia — n. one of the three principal island groups in the Pacific Ocean, island group in the north Pacific to which the Marshall Islands belong; Federated States of Micronesia …   English contemporary dictionary