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Pacific Island Guide  >  Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau
Stone money at the village of Gachpar on Yap.


Micronesia Region Background Information

The islands of Micronesia are distant, remote, and primitive. The huge area covers 5 time zones. Micronesian islanders don’t perceive themselves as being one group. For a further explanation of the difference between the region of the Pacific called Micronesia, and the nation of the Federated States of Micronesia, click here.

The Micronesian island area consists of eight nations or territories:

1. Federated States of Micronesia (formerly Caroline Islands)
2. Guam
3. Kiribati
4. Marshall Islands
5. Nauru
6. Northern Mariana Islands
7. Palau
8. Wake Island (sparsely inhabited)

These distinct island nations are divided into tribes and clans. The chief of each tribe and clan influences the lives of his group. Although their languages are written now, few people have written information about their ancestors.

The LDS Church has 3,222 members in the Micronesia mission: 897 in the North Mariana Islands, 3,625 in the Marshall Islands, 328 on Palau, and 1,519 on the island of Guam. Total: 9,591.

The records are in Spanish, German, English, or the native tongue, depending on the time period and the island or island group.

Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

The former Caroline Islands, (except Palau) now the Federated States of Micronesia, are an archipelago in the West Pacific, just north of the equator. They are fertile and rich in minerals. The largest islands or island groups are Yap, Chuuk (Truk), Pohnpei (Ponape), and Kosrae.

Historical background

800 Chinese navigators visit the Carolines.
1526 Spanish navigators visit the islands.
1886 Spain controls the Carolines.
1899 After the Spanish-American war, the islands were sold to Germany.
1914 The Japanese occupy the islands.
1935 The islands are officially annexed to Japan.
1940 The islands are heavily bombed during World War II.
1947 The islands become part of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
1986 The Carolines become independent and have free association with the USA.

Yap is the westernmost state of the Federated States of Micronesia. The island is made up of four islands very close together, formed from an uplift of the Eurasian plate. The population of these municipalities is 6,300. Yap is the most traditional of the Caroline Islands, and is famous for its traditional dancing and its stone money, which is as large as 12 feet in diameter and has a hole in the middle. Many manta rays swim there, which attracts tourists. Languages spoken are Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Satawalese, and English. All land on Yap is owned by traditional leaders and chiefs. Yap has one LDS district with 5 branches

Chuuk is a large atoll with many islands surrounded by an outer abarrier reef. The islands in the central lagoon are high and mountainous. Truk’s huge Lagoon holds over 50 hulks of ships from Wold War II.
The LDS Church has 2 districts on Chuuk with 5 branches in each district.

Pohnpei is the largest and tallest of the Caroline Islands. Kolonia is the capital of the Carolines, which administers Pohnpei, Yap, Chuuk, Kosrae, and 130 other atolls. Its peaks get plenty of rainfall, and it has many waterfalls. There is one LDS district on Pohnpei, with 2 branches

Kosrae is located a few houssoutheast of Guam and a few hours southwest of Hawaii, by air. It is 42 square miles square. Its people are very peaceful and gracious. Its waters and beaches are virtually unspoiled. There is one LDS district on Kosrae with 2 branches

Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands

Northern Mariana Islands and Guam are separate territories of the United States in the same island chain, but it are considered part of the Micronesia island region. In 1990 the population was 133,000.

Historical background

500 A.D. Chamorro people, of Malay origin, migrated to Guam.
1521 Ferdinand Magellan, of Portugal, called it “Isla de Ladrones” (Island of Thieves) because islanders took whatever they could from his ship as payment for the food and water they had given the crew.
1500s Controlled by Spain until 1889.
1668 Jesuit priests began a missionary effort on Guam.
1740 Chamorros of the northern islands were forced to remove to Guam.
1741 Spanish galleon trade, guards, and disease reduced the population from 200,000 to 5,000. Most survivors were women and children. Chamorros were forced to settle in Agana, Agat, Umatac, Pago, and Fena. They were forced to learn Spanish language and customs.
1815 Scientists, voyagers, and whalers from Russia, France, and England came to Guam.
1898 Spain ceded Guam, the southernmost of the Mariana Islands to the USA, and sold the rest to Germany.
1899 The U.S. Navy administered Guam and it experienced many improvements in agriculture, literacy, public health, sanitation, land management, taxes, and public works.
1914 The Japanese occupied the Marianas, and the islands were administered by Japan, except for Guam.
1941 Guam fell to the Japanese forces.
1944 American forces occupied the islands, which include Saipan. They saw some of the fiercest fighting of World War II. The USA administered the islands.
1962 Security clearance requirement was lifted for travel to Guam, permitting Guam’s economy to flourish and opening an influx of Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Pacific Islanders, and Caucasians.
1990 Guam was granted independent government, though they remain part of an American commonwealth.

Resources available

Several Spanish records including censuses, taxation, a Chinese census, and school records.
1920 United States Federal census.
1990 United States Federal census (Shows population as 43,345).

Also use aFilm/fiche number search and look at the descriptions of these microfilms, all of which contain information about the Mariana Islands: 1210553 Items 3-5, 1627430 item 2, 1681270, 1681271, 1681280, 1681291, 1681292 , 1681293, 1681294, 1681295, 1681349, 168135, 1681308, 1681319, 1681331, 1681521, 168139, 1681359, 1681406, 1681356, 1681360, 1681369, 1681415, 1681368, 1681407, 1681420, 1681436, 1681450, 1681370, 1681408. Also 1717354, 1717376, and 1717392.

Marshall Islands

Click this map to make it larger

The easternmost part of the Micronesia area, the Marshall Islands are an independent nation located between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea, north of Fiji. The islands are composed of 29 coral atolls and 5 small low-lying islands in the central Pacific. The Ratak chain on the east is made up of 15 atolls, and the Ralik chain has 16 atolls. There a over 1,000 island in these two chains. The Marshall Islands have a population of around 50,000. English is the official language. Marshallese and Japanese are also spoken.

Historical background

500 B.C.First Micronesian navigators arrive in the Marshalls, calling the atolls Aelon Kien Ad (Our Islands).
1494 All of Micronesia is ceded to Spain
1529 Spaniard Alvaro Saavedra discovers the Marshalls.
1788 British Naval Captain William Marshall sails through the area while transporting convicts and names it.
1857 Reverend Hiram Bingham, Jr. of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions creates a missionary outpost on Ebon.
1860s Adolph Capelle builds the first trading company in the Marshalls. Other German trading firms come.
1878 Germans establish a calling station and start coconut plantations to produce copra. Captain von Werner of the German Navy grants trade privileges to natives of the Ralik chain.
1885 German government annexes the Marshalls and pays Spain $4.5 milllion.
1886 Germany establishes a protectorate over the Marshalls.
1887 The Jaluit Company, a German entity entrusted with governance of the Marshalls, is formed.
1898 Germany receives ownership of Ujelang and Enewetok atolls as a result of the Spanish American war
1914 The Marshalls are captured from Germany by the Japanese.
1920 The League of Nations grants a mandate to Japan to administer the Marshalls.
1934 Japan builds defenses in the Marshalls.
1943 Allied invasion of the Marshalls begins and occupation results in 1943.
1945 End of World War II grants control of the Marshall to the U.S.A.
1946 U.S.A. begins testing nuclear bombs. Bikini atoll is evacuated for the first tests.
1947 Marshall Islands become part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands established by the United Nations.
1948 U.S. nuclear testing expands to Enewetok atoll.
1951 U.S. Dept. of the Interior assumes responsibility within the U.S. Government from the Dept. of the Navy.
1952 U.S. tests the first hydrogen bomb on Enewetak.
1954 U.S. nuclear hydrogen bomb on Bikini atoll and radiation from the test forces evacuation of all people on Rongelap, Rongerik, Utirik, and Ailinginae. The Rongleapese return and leave again years later.
1965 Congress of Micronesia is formed.
1978 Marshall Islands Constitutional convention adopts the first constitution.
1979 The country becomes self-governing.
1982 It is renamed the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI)
1983 Voters in the RMI approve the Compact of Free Association with the USA. The USA gives $183 million to the Marshalls for damages caused by the nuclear bomb tests.
1991The Republic of the Marshall Islands becomes a member of the United Nations.

Resources available

Go to the Internet at familysearch.org and click on the Library. From that tab, we can click on the Family History Library Catalog and then Click on Place,and then type in Marshall Islands.

Palau (Belau)

Palau is the smallest nation in the world. It is the westernmost cluster of the 6 major island groups that make up the Caroline Islands. Population in the year 2000 was 19,129. The archipelago includes more than 200 islands, of which 8 are inhabited. The religious majority is Roman Catholic.

The LDS Church has one district (Koror) with 2 branches here.

Historical background

700 A.D. Chinese made contact with the Micronesian and Polynesian inhabitants.
1525 Spanish arrived
1886 Spain took control.
1899 After the Spanish-American war, the islands were sold to Germany.
1914 The Japanese occupied the islands.
1920 League of Nations mandated civil administration by the Japanese. The Japanese population rose to over 100,000. The indigenous population was 40,000.
1934 They were annexed to Japan.
1942 Bombed and occupied by the Americans during World War II
1947 The United Nations placed Palau under U.S. administration as a trust territory (TTPI). A High Commissioner was appointed administrators for each district..
1951 The U.S. Navy Dept.’s authority was passed to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
1979 The districts become states of the Federation, a judicial system was established, and an orderly transfer of government from the U.S. to the Federal States of Micronesia is made.
1986 Palau becomes an independent part of the Federated States of Micronesia.
1994 Palau becomes independent, in free association with the USA.

Resources available

Go to the Internet at familysearch.org and click on theLibrary. From that tab, click on the Family History Library Catalog. Choose a Place search. Then type inPalau.
Or, you can use a Film/fiche number search and look at the descriptions os these microfilms, all of which contain information about the Caroline Islands: 1779918, 928558 items 2 and 12, 1717502 and 1717753.


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