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The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands covers some 3 million square miles of the western Pacific Ocean just above the equator, ranging from about 1° to 22° north latitude and 130° to 172° east longitude. The Territory embraces more than 1,000 islands and islets, lying in 3 major archipelagoes: the Carolines, the Marshalls and the Marianas.

The entire area is called Micronesia, or the "Tiny Islands." Guam in the Marianas and the Gilbert Islands south of the Marshalls, however, are not part of the Trust Territory.

The more than 2,000 islands of the Territory range from large volcanic islands to tiny coral islets linking the circular chain of rock and vegetation which forms a coral atoll. Most islands in the Eastern Carolines and the Marshalls are of coral formation. Remnants of a vast undersea volcanic ridge, stretching southward from Japan along the western perimeter of the Territory, form the Mariana and Western Caroline Islands. The Eastern Carolines and all of the Marshall Islands rest on another series of submarine elevations. The largest islands in the Territory are Babelthuap, Palau District, and Ponape

Island, Ponape District. Elevation of the Territory's islands range from about 6 feet on a coral atoll to the 3,166 feet of Agrihan Island in the Marianas.

The Trust Territory has 6 administrative districts. Of these, four-Palau, Yap, Truk and Ponape-lie within the Carolines archipelago. The Mariana Islands and Marshall Islands districts lie in separate archipelagoes of the same names. The provisional headquarters of the Trust Territory Administration remains on Saipan, Mariana Islands District.

The Mariana Islands District, comprising 183 square miles, has the largest land area. Palau and Ponape districts are slightly smaller with 178 and 176 square miles, respectively. The Marshall Islands District covering 70 square miles, and Yap and Truk districts with 46 square miles each, are much smaller.

Total population at the end of fiscal 1969 was 98,009. Truk District is the largest, with 27,453, followed by Ponape District, 20,093; the Marshall Islands District, 19,328; Palau District, 12,291; Mariana Islands Islands District, 11,827; and Yap District, 7,017.


Temperatures generally range from the mid-70's to the mid-80's and are relatively uniform. Rainfall is heavy and humidity averages 80%. Seasonal changes vary throughout the Territory but most islands have pronounced wet and dry seasons.

The Territory lies in an area of the western Pacific where major ocean storms develop and strike. Islands of the Palau, Yap, and Marianas districts were struck by strong typhoons in late 1967. In April 1968, the disastrous Typhoon Jean struck the Caroline Islands and developed to full intensity as it passed the Marianas, causing an estimated $16 million damage.


Vegetation varies considerably from high island to low atoll, though coconut and breadfruit trees are common to both. Coral atolls are particularly characterized by the coconut palm and its related plant associates-breadfruit, pandanus, and plants of a shore nature. The high volcanic islands, on the other hand, usually have mangrove swamps on the tidal flats, coconut vegetation on the slopes, and mixed forest growth on the uplands.


The only presumably native land animals in the Territory are two species of insect-eating bats and two species of fruit bats. These animals are not on all islands but do occur on both high islands and atolls. Dogs, pigs, and one species of rat were introduced by migrating islanders prior to Western and Oriental contact. Three additional species of rats entered the area after Western and Oriental contact. Sometime after World War II, a species of

oriental shrew got into the area and is now found in the Marianas, Truk, and the Marshalls. The water buffalo or carabao was introduced to the Marianas from the Philippines by the Spanish and subsequently spread to Ponape and Palau. Horses, cattle, goats, and cats were introduced in the postEuropean contact period. Deer were introduced into the Marianas by the Germans and later carried to Ponape.

Marine and shore birds abound in the area. These include terns, albatross, booby, tropic birds, golden plovers, frigate birds, shearwaters, several species of herons, and a cormorant. One species of rare fresh water duck is found in the Marianas and another in Palau. Several species of ducks migrate through the Territory. Relatively few species of resident land birds can be found, especially on the atolls. There are, however, various species of flycatchers, warblers, honey eaters, starlings, finches, thrushes, kingfishers, gallinules, rails, doves, pigeons, parrots, cockatoos, megapodes or mound builders, vireos, swiftlets, owls, hawks, ospreys, bitterns, nightjars, drongoes and white-eyes. Cuckoos, swallows, falcons and some other species of land birds migrate through the Territory. There are very few species of introduced birds.

Two species of crocodiles (the salt water crocodile and the New Guinea crocodile) are found in Palau. One species of small blind burrowing snake inhabits most of the islands in the Territory. Two species of highly venomous sea snakes are found in Palau with one of them also present in the Marshall Islands. Also, in Palau are a tree snake, a mangrove snake, a boa and a rare golden burrowing snake. None of these is venomous. A large monitor lizard (up to 6 feet) is found on many high and low islands. Other

lizards, geckoes and skinks of several species are abundant throughout the Territory.

A rich marine fauna exists in the open sea, reefs, lagoons, and shore areas. Species of fish include tuna, barracuda, sea bass, sharks, eels, snappers, stone fish, lion fish, flying fish, porcupine fish, gobies, archer fish, flounder, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, trigger fish and many others. Other marine organisms such as starfish, spiny lobsters, crabs, sea cucumbers, octopi, clams, oysters, snails and sea urchins are abundant. Porpoises are abundant but whales are rare. The dugong or sea cow, a marine mammal, is found in Palau but is rare; threat of

its extinction has resulted in district laws for its protection.

More than 7,000 species of insects are known to be in the Territory; perhaps 15% have been introduced by man. Some 45% are found throughout all the islands, while the rest are endemic to specific areas.

Ethnic Background

The people of the Trust Territory are classified as Micronesians except for about 1,000 Polynesian inhabitants of Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro and a scattering of individuals of other racial groups. Anthropological evidence and studies indicate that the present Micronesian population probably originated in Southeast Asia and Malaysia.

Physically, Micronesians are characterized by medium stature, brown skin, straight to wavy black hair, relatively little face and body hair, and rather high cheekbones. People of the Eastern Carolines tend to have stronger Malaysian characteristics than those elsewhere in the region. Today's Chamorro inhabitants of the Mariana

Islands differ considerably from the original Chamorro inhabitants whose skeletal remains indicate they were a large-boned, tall and robust people. A complex blending of several racial elements over many generations has produced the Chamorro of today.

Differences in customs do exist. The scattered and isolated islands have led to adaptations and inventions. These differences as well as those in the 9 major languages of the Territory generally correspond to the 6 districts. There has been a basic similarity throughout, however, in general cultural characteristics such as a fine

adjustment to life in a small tropical isle; a specialized technology using stone, shell, fibers and other local materials; complex class distinctions; narrow political loyalties; close kinship by chief. Differing degrees of acculties; cult of ancestors; and leadership turation can be noted depending on contact with Spanish, German, Japanese, and American cultures.


Great differences in language exist in Micronesia, although each island language has a common MalayoPolynesian source. Nine major languages, with dialectal variations, are spoken in the Territory: Palauan, Yapese, Chamorro, Ulithi-Woleai, Trukese, Ponapean, Kusaiean, Marshallese, and Kapingamarangi-Nukuoro. Some linguists add a 10th language, Sonsorolese-Tobian of Southwest Palau. These languages are in everyday use and most people know only the language of their home island. In the islands where the Japanese influence was strongest, many older people know at least conversational Jap


Social Structure

A matrilineal society was common throughout the area, except in Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro. The basic political unit in the Central Carolines was the local community, made up of several lineages tracing descent from a common female ancestress. Elsewhere social organization was more complex. In the prehistoric Marshalls, a number of petty, warring and unstable feudal states arose accompanied by stratification into several social classes. An even greater degree of social stratification developed in Kusaie, Palau, Yap and the Marianas. This reached a peak on Yap where 5 of the original 9 distinct. social classes are still recognized today. Yap also dominated a loosely organized economic-religious empire which extended far to the east in the Carolines. The people of Ponape competed for social status through a complex system of bestowed titles. Much of the old pattern is still maintained.

Population Movements

lation occurred. The Chamorros and Carolinians on the islands of Saipan and Rota were moved from their original homes to settlements along the margins of the large Japanese communities. During World War II extensive dislocation of the islanders occurred. Where possible, the Administering Authority has returned displaced islanders to the places they considered to be home.

Early in 1966 at their request, the people of Ebadon and Arbwe Islands in the Kwajalein Atoll returned to their homes after living on the island of Ebeye for about 6 months. They were originally relocated to Ebeye along with residents of the Kwajalein mid-atoll corridor. In April 1966, the people of Lib, some 234 individuals who had voluntarily left their island for Ebeye several years previously in connection with a defense project, also returned to their 230-acre island where a complete new village had been built. for them.

In August 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that Bikini atoll was again safe for human habitation. Since that time, the Trust Territory Government and U.S. federal agencies have been preparing the atoll. for resettlement by the Bikinians, who have been living on Kili.

Before European contact, some travel took place between adjacent island population groups in spite of vast distances, social differences, and clan wars. Yap islanders sailed their large canoes to Palau to quarry the famous Yapese stone money from Palauan quarries. Other Yapese canoes regularly plied to and from Guam. Trading voyages were made from the west-central Carolines to the Marianas where Yapese colonies apparently existed. In the Marshalls, sailing trips to the islands and atolls were made throughout the area as well as to Kusaie. Considerable trading, visiting History and, very likely, war raiding took place.

After Japan assumed control of the area, some displacement of local popu

The Government also has begun a rehabilitation program on Ujelang, temporary home of the former residents of Eniwetok who were moved outside the area of the Pacific Proving Ground in 1947.

Micronesia has been known to the western world since 16th-century Spanish and Portuguese explorers first. visited the islands. Later explorers,

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