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The beautiful Micronesia ©Matt Keiffer
Micronesia is a rather arbitrary name given to an enormous slice of earth. Greek for 'small' and 'islands', Micronesia is neither small nor a cohesive group culturally. Micronesia is in fact comprised of about eight different countries; the Federated States of Micronesia (commonly referred to as just Micronesia), to which this guide refers, is one of these countries and is itself comprised of over 600 islands. The country is further divided into four states that are home to a number of unique cultures.
While Micronesia received independence in 1986 it has retained deep ties with the US and still largely relies on the US for defence and monetary aid, with citizens of Micronesia still active members of the US military.
Micronesia can be a fascinating place to visit as the country's prior isolation has ensured the preservation of the many unique cultures of the islands. Many of the islanders still live much as they have for centuries, with local customs refreshingly untouched by modernisation and the global melting pot. Cultural practices vary drastically between the islands and travellers should be sensitive to this.
The diverse cultures are not the only unique aspect of the country which has a dramatic volcanic history that has spawned some unusual geographical features including wonderful reefs and numerous lagoons. The turbulent origins of the landscape also mean that the islands come in vastly different shapes and sizes.
Chuuk is a popular state to visit for scuba divers. A Japanese fleet was sunk off its shores in WWII making it among the best shipwreck diving sites in the world. Yap Island has unique hill scenery in contrast to the volcanic formations and coral atolls that created the rest of the FSM. Pohnpei is the most populated of the states while Kosrae is the most sparsely inhabited. Both are welcoming to tourists and promise a very different holiday experience.
Although the islands stretch for 1,800 miles (2,900km) Micronesia is largely off the tourist map. As a result, tourism infrastructure isn't yet highly developed and many of the islands are difficult to reach and hard to explore. For willing adventurers this also means there are hundreds of secluded blue water beaches and lush landscapes to discover. Micronesia is a thrilling off-the-beaten-track holiday destination, still largely unspoiled culturally and naturally.
English is the official language of Micronesia.
Travellers to Micronesia may import up to 600 cigarettes/454g tobacco, and a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use. Visitors 21 and older may have two litres of liquor. Guns and ammunition are prohibited, and plants, fruit and animals must be declared on arrival.
Electrical current in Micronesia is generally 110 - 120 volts, 50Hz. Plug types are similar to those in the US and Canada, with three blades.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Micronesia but vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended. Travellers who will be eating outside of restaurants and hotels should also consider getting a typhoid vaccination.
Each of the four main islands have state-run hospitals and there are small clinics dotted throughout Micronesia but medical facilities often lack basic supplies and medicines and the quality of health care is generally low. Travellers are therefore advised to have comprehensive travel and health insurance and to take along basic medical kits and all required prescription medication.
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
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Embassies of Micronesia
Foreign Embassies in Micronesia
Customs and social etiquette in Micronesia is underpinned by non-assertive, respectful behaviour. Visitors should ensure at all times that they behave in a humble fashion, and especially that they do not indulge publicly in bawdy or overtly sexual behaviour. Visitors should also be prudent when taking photographs - always ask permission before taking someone's photo, and do not be surprised if they refuse. Do not click your tongue (as in frustration or disappointment), as this is considered a form of swearing in Micronesia. Male visitors should not rub their bellies, nor beckon someone toward them with their palm facing skyward - both actions are construed as sexual overtures. Finally, it is often considered inappropriate for women (foreign or local) to be alone in public - this can make solo travel in Micronesia somewhat difficult for women.
Public Holidays in Micronesia
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