Scattered across the Pacific Ocean, the Federated States of Micronesia is the epitome of paradise – with its powdery shores, crystalline waters and colourful coral reefs – but its lack of connectivity and relative obscurity means few travellers actually make it here.
Comprised of some 607 islands, this archipelago is not the easiest place to get to, but it certainly rewards those who do make the journey. In islands like Chuuk, visitors will find vast lagoons of monumental beauty, filled with shipwrecks, kaleidoscopic corals and sandy beaches. The islands are a dream for divers, and many argue that the area’s diving and snorkelling ranks among the best in the world.
It’s not all about natural beauty, though. The Micronesians themselves combine a profusion of languages, customs and folklore, which are captivating to witness. The archipelago is defiantly archaic too, which is wholly refreshing: on the island of Yap, islanders still trade using an ancient stone currency. Some Micronesians can also be glimpsed wearing traditional garments and throughout the nation you are likely to stumble across snatches of unique island music and witness zesty, time-honoured dances.
Though a sovereign nation now, the archipelago has been dragged from pillar to post by various colonial powers. The Portuguese, Spanish, Germans and Japanese have all laid claim to the territory, followed by the USA, which took over the administration the nation in 1947. However, in 1986, the Federated States signed a Compact of Free Association with the USA, allowing for independence with US defence support.
The islands suffer from remoteness and lack of industry and infrastructure. There is development potential, but as yet Micronesia remains dependent on US aid. Tourism is one industry that could potentially boost the island's fiscal situation. However, even if tourism does take off, with 607 islands to speak of, finding some deserted shores to relax on shouldn't be too hard.