Micronesia comprises four archipelagos: the Federated States of Micronesia (Caroline Islands), the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Republic of Palau.
The area has a turbulent history of foreign control and political change. Despite upheavals and foreign influences from Spanish, German, Japanese and US governments, many inhabitants have maintained their cultural heritage and traditions, while others have lifestyles inspired mainly by the teachings of 19th-century missionaries. Having come under UN Trusteeship, administered by the USA, at the end of World War II, all of the Pacific Micronesian states have now reached final political settlements.
Collectively, the islands are known for the dramatic tropical nature, pristine beaches and great diving opportunities. By contrast, the area has witnessed some of the darkest moments in recent history, with shipwrecks littering the sea beds, heavy nuclear weapons testing having been staged in the area, and the islet Tinian having the dubious privilege as being the launchpad from which the American B-29s set off for Japan to drop the Atom bomb. The inhabitants of the islands have nevertheless remained resilient in the face of history, and visitors can typically expect a warm welcome.
See individual country sections for further details.