The Federated States of Micronesia comprise more than 600 small islands spread throughout the western Pacific, in Oceania. Nearby island neighbors include Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Guam, the Marianas, Nauru, and several others. The land mass of Micronesia, 271 square miles, is small compared to the amount of ocean it covers: more than 1 million square miles. Micronesia is made up of four major states: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. The population of 101,675 people lives mostly along the coasts of the larger islands, with about 23 percent in urban areas such as the capital of Palikar. The population is ethnically diverse, including Chuukese, Mortlockese, Pohnpeian, Kosraean, Yapese, and Yap outer islanders. The majority of Micronesians identify as Roman Catholic, with other Christian religions also well represented. English is the official language and it’s the language that’s most commonly spoken throughout the island nation.
Micronesia was controlled by several countries during the 20th century, including Spain, Germany, Japan, and the United States. The U.S. was the last country to administer Micronesia until 1979, when independence was declared. Ties between the U.S. and Micronesia remain close, both politically and economically. Subsistence farming and fishing are the main sources of income for most people; however, much of the island’s food, manufactured goods, and fuel is imported to supplement local resources. Both the service sector and tourism have developed over time, albeit slowly.
Micronesia faces health challenges with both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Obesity is prevalent in the small island nation, with 46 percent of the population considered obese. This has led to an increase in many non-communicable diseases, with ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke, chronic kidney disease, COPD, hypertensive heart disease, and cirrhosis as the cause of most deaths. Other major causes of death include lower respiratory infections, self-harm, and road injuries. Of note, death due to HIV/AIDS increased dramatically between 2009 and 2019, growing by over 200 percent. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include high body-mass index, high fasting plasma glucose, alcohol and tobacco use, high blood pressure, dietary risks, high LDL, kidney dysfunction, air pollution, unsafe sex, and malnutrition.
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