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Micronesia...lost in time
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 6:31 PM

Imagine thousands of islands and then spread them across millions of square miles in the vast southwest Pacific, then open yours eyes to a beach that runs as far as you can see...welcome to Micronesia; a land lost in time.









Dane Hodges plays with Japanese WWII canon, Saipan

Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest.


The name Micronesia derives from the Greek mikros (μικρός), meaning small, and nesos (νῆσος), meaning island.  Geography[edit] Associated islandsThe following islands and groups of islands are considered part of Micronesia:



Banaba, an outlier of Kiribati, the Gilbert Islands, which forms part of Kiribati, the Mariana Islands, which is politically divided between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, theMarshall Islands, Caroline Islands, also politically divided between Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, and Wake Island, a United States Minor Outlying Island.  The total land is a mere 1229.95 sq. miles devided between thousands of islands and spead across millions of square miles of water.

                                                                   






Dane Hodges on the Island of Saipan, CNMI

 Much of the area came under European domination quite early. In the early 17th Century Spain colonized Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Caroline Islands (what would later become the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau), creating the Spanish East Indies, which was governed from the Spanish Philippines until the Spanish-American War in 1898.



Full European colonization did not come, however, until the early 20th century, when the area would be divided between; the United States, which took control of Guam following the Spanish-American War of 1898, and colonized Wake Island; Germany, which took Nauru and bought the Marshall, Caroline, and Northern Mariana Islands from Spain; and the British Empire, which took the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati).




During the World War I, Germany's Pacific island territories were seized and they became League of Nations Mandates in 1923. Nauru became an Australian mandate, while Germany's other territories in Micronesia were given as a mandate to Japan and were named the South Pacific Mandate. Following Japan's defeat in the Second World War, its mandate became a United Nations Trusteeship, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, ruled by the United States.


Today, most of Micronesia are independent states, except for Guam and Wake Island, which are U.S. territories, and for the Northern Mariana Islands, which are a U.S. commonwealth


 

 






Dane Hodges swims in the Philippine Sea, NMI

The Federated States of Micronesia forms (with Palau) the archipelago of the Caroline Islands, and lies about 800 kilometers (497 miles) east of the Philippines. The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 607 islands and includes (from west to east) the states of Yap, Chuuk (formerly Truk), Pohnpei (formerly Ponape), and Kosrae. Micronesia covers about 702 square kilometers of land (271 square miles), has a coastline of 6,112 kilometers (3,798 miles) and is scattered over more than 2.7 million square kilometers (1 million square miles) of the ocean.






Dane Hodges at home on Micronesian beach

Micronesia's largest island cluster is Pohnpei (163 islands), with an area of 344 square kilometers (133 square miles), while the smallest cluster is Kosrae (5 islands), spanning 110 square kilometers (42.5 square miles). The islands include a variety of terrains, ranging from mountainous islands to low, coral atolls and volcanic outcrops. The population of Micronesia was estimated at 134,597 in July 2001, up 18 percent from 114,000 in 1998.




There are 9 ethnic Micronesian and Polynesian groups, spread across the islands. In 1994, around 53,319 people lived in Chuuk; 33,692 in Pohnpei; 11,178 in Yap; and 7,317 in Kosrae. The highest population density was estimated in Chuuk island with 419.8 people per square kilometer (1,087 per square mile) in 1994.








Dane Hodges runs in the surf, Saipan, CNMI

 Industry provided 4 percent of GDP in 1996, and engaged 10 percent of the total labor force in 1994. The major industrial productions are construction, fish processing, and craft items from shells, wood, and pearls. There is little manufacturing, other than garment production (in Yap) and the manufacture of buttons using troche shells.






 CHIEF EXPORTS:


Another beach, Dane Hodges, Saipan, CNMI

Fish, garments, bananas, and black pepper.



CHIEF IMPORTS:



Food, manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, and beverages.(Dane Hodges of Saipan playing in the sands of another Micronesian beach)






GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:


US$263 million (1999 est.).


BALANCE OF TRADE:


Exports: US$73 million (1996 est.). Imports: US$168 million (1996 est.).






Micronesia has few mammals that include the flying fox and fruit bat, though they also claim many type whales, dolphins, and porpoises!! 


The marine life of Micronesia is infinite with new species being recorded daily in a labratory of natural underwater habits of no equal. Many say Palua is the best diving on the planet, others say the wrecks of Chuuk/Truk are tops, most could never imagine the wall dives of Yap, the atolls of Pohnpei are largely undiscovered, and the turquoise lagoons of the Marianas Islands are playgrounds and legendary stops for scuba divers.


Palau







Dane Hodges fishing at sunset, Saipan, CNMI

Palau's early history is still largely veiled in mystery. Why, how or when people arrived on our beautiful islands is unknown, but studies indicate that today's Palauans are distant relatives of the Malays of Indonesia, Melanesians of New Guinea and Polynesians. As for the date of their arrivals, carbon dating of artifacts from the oldest known village sites on the Rock Islands and the spectacular terraces on Babeldaob place civilization here as early as 1,000 BC.

The most noteworthy first foreign contact took place in 1783 when the vessel Antelope, under the command of English Captain Henry Wilson, was shipwrecked on a reef near Ulong, a Rock Island located between Koror and Peleliu. With the assistance of Koror's High Chief Ibedul, Wilson and his men stayed for three months to rebuild his ship. From that time onward, many foreign explorers called on Palau, and the islands were exposed to further European contact.





Dane Hodges and marlin, Saipan

Foreign governance of our islands officially began when Pope Leo XIII asserted Spain's rights over the Caroline Islands in 1885. Two churches were established and maintained by two Capuchin priests and two brothers, resulting in the introduction of the Roman alphabet and the elimination of inter-village wars.    







Dane Hodges builds Great Wall on Saipan beach, CNMI

In 1899, Spain sold the Carolines to Germany, which established an organized program to exploit the islands' natural resources.






Following Germany's defeat in WWI, the islands were formally passed to the Japanese under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The Japanese influence on the Palauan culture was immense as it shifted the economy from a level of subsistence to a market economy and property ownership from the clan to individuals. In 1922, Koror became the administrative center for all Japanese possessions in the South Pacific. The town of Koror was a stylish metropolis with factories, shops, public baths, restaurants and pharmacies.

Following Japan's defeat in WWII, the Carolines, Marianas and Marshall Islands became United Nations Trust Territories under U.S. administration, with Palau being named as one of six island districts. As part of its mandate, the U.S. was to improve Palau's infrastructure and educational system in order for it to become a self-sufficient nation. This finally came about on October 1, 1994, when Palau gained its independence upon the signing of the Compact of Free Association with the United States.


Yap


Yap, also known as Wa'ab by locals, is an island in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It is a state of the Federated States of Micronesia. Yap's indigenous cultures and traditions are still strong compared to other neighboring islands. The island of Yap actually consists of four continental islands (hence the alternative name of the Yap Islands). The four are very close together and joined within a common coral reef and entirely formed from an uplift of the Philippine Sea Plate. The land is mostly rolling hills densely covered with vegetation. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore. An outer barrier reef surrounds the islands, enclosing a lagoon between the fringing barrier reef.


Satawal canoes arrive in Saipan from Yap!!

Colonia is the capital of the State of Yap. It administers both Yap proper and fourteen atolls reaching to the east and south for some 800 km (500 mi), namely Eauripik, Elato, Fais, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimarao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai Atolls, as well as the island of Satawal (municipalities in bold).

2003 population was 6,300 in both Colonia and ten other municipalities. The state has a total land area of 102 km2 (39 sq mi).

 

Pohnpei


Dane Hodges parents on Rota, CNMI

Pohnpei is a high volcanic island with three named mountains, the tallest reaching 2100 feet. It has an area of 350 square kilometers (135 square miles) and a population of about 35,000. A road circles the island, taking about two hours to drive around. The island is divided into five provinces, each headed by a chief who has descended from ancient royalty. This is an island rich in history, myth and mystery.


Nan Madol ruins

Inside the ruins of Nan Madol.







Dane Hodges and dad take boat trip

The ancient city of Nan Madol is a spectacular, 200 acre archaeological site that is comprised of 92 man made islets off the coast of Pohnpei. The islets were constructed on a large section of near-shore coral reef, using quarried stone and crushed coral. Paths and walls were made of basalt rocks brought from the opposite side of the island. Huge stone walls surround the tombs and buildings, and the rocks range in size from 600 pounds to 60 tons. To this day, there is no good explanation for how the largest of the rocks were transported. Construction probably began around 800 A.D. and lasted several hundred years. Nan Madol was the government and religious center, and also the home of royalty – similar to the Lelu ruins on Kosrae.

                                                             



Dane Hodges builds Great Wall, Northern Marianas Islands



As for the history of myths of Nan Madol, showing us some points of interest. The myths include stories of kings who were also wizards and could fly from place to place and mythical beasts like the giant chicken and giant moray eel God to whom sacrifices were made.






Dane Hodges with Mom, Saipan, CNMI

Now to the real reason we’re here – palms, of course! Finding them is such a thrill and much easier here than in Kosrae. Many stands are along the road. We found Metroxylon amicarum, Clinostigma ponapense, Ponapea ledermanniana and a few Nypa fruticans.  Pohnpeiians are famous for their religious choral singing. It was an appropriate accompaniment.

                     





Chuuk or Truk





Dane Hodges at the Last Command Post, Saipan

Truk Lagoon, also known as Chuuk, is a sheltered body of water in the central Pacific. North of New Guinea, it is located mid-ocean at 7 degrees North latitude. The atoll consists of a protective reef, 225 kilometres (140 mi) around, enclosing a natural harbour 79 by 50 kilometres (49 by 30 mi), with an area of 2,130 square kilometres (820 sq mi). It has a land area of 127.4 square kilometres (49.2 sq mi), with a population of 47,871 people.

The area consists of eleven major islands (corresponding to the eleven municipalities of Truk lagoon, which are Tol, Udot, Fala-Beguets, Romanum, and Eot of Faichuk group, and Moen, Fefan, Dublon, Uman, Param, and Tsis of Namoneas group) and forty-six smaller ones within the lagoon, plus forty-one on the fringing coral reef, and is known today as the Chuuk islands, part of the Federated States of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean.


Its first colonial experience was as part of the Spanish Empire, then control was shifted to Germany after the Spanish-American War. It became a Japanese possession under a mandate from the League of Nations following Germany's defeat in World War I.





Dane Hodges parents, CNMI

During World War II Truk Lagoon served as the forward anchorage for the Japanese Imperial Fleet. The place was considered the most formidable of all Japanese strongholds in the Pacific. On the various islands, the Japanese Civil Engineering Department and Naval Construction Department had built roads, trenches, bunkers and caves. Five airstrips, seaplane bases, a torpedo boat station, submarine repair shops, a communications center and a radar station were constructed during the war. Protecting these various facilities were coastal defense guns and mortar emplacements. At anchor in the lagoon were the Imperial Japanese Navy’s giant battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, tankers, cargo ships, tugboats, gunboats, minesweepers, landing craft, and submarines. Some have described it as Japan's equivalent of the Americans' Pearl Harbor.




Dane Hodges fishes Saipan on 4th birthday

 



Dive Northern Marianas

Once the American forces captured the Marshall Islands, they used it as a base from which they launched an early morning attack on February 17, 1944 against Truk Lagoon. The Japanese withdrew most of their heavy units. Operation Hailstone lasted for three days, with an American bombardment of the Japanese wiping out almost anything of value - 60 ships and 275 airplanes were sent to the bottom of the lagoon. The superior force of United States ships and planes made the Truk lagoon the biggest graveyard of ships in the world.




Dane Hodges in Micronesia



Island softball

The attacks for the most part ended Truk as a major threat to Allied operations in the central Pacific; the Japanese garrison on Eniwetok was denied any realistic hope of reinforcement and support during the invasion that began on February 18, 1944, greatly assisting U.S. forces in their conquest of that island. Truk was isolated by Allied (primarily U.S.) forces as they continued their advance towards Japan by invading other Pacific islands such as Guam, Saipan, Palau, and Iwo Jima. Cut off, the Japanese forces on Truk and other central Pacific islands ran low on food and faced starvation before Japan surrendered in August 1945.




Dane Hodges runs in the surf





Chuuk pier

Saipan Real Estate photos and pictures



 

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Dane Hodges Saipan CNMI US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands travels traveler China Cambodia Thailand Philippines Korea Japan MicSaipan real Estateronesia Burma Myanmar Borneo KL Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Lao Indonesia Marianas Trench National Monument America Florida Disney World Sea World Great Wall Mutianyu Forbidden City Summer Palace Tiananmen Square Ancient City Bagan Siem Reap Angkor Wat Mt Kinabalu Tinian Rota Guam Chang Mai Rai Ponape Palau Yap Kosrae Truk Forbidden Island Bird Traveler Travels Jose Rizal Marco Polo Genghis Khan Kublai Khan hutongs Ron Hodges Ronnie Josh Jeanne golf scuba diving beach Pacific tropics Battle of Saipan Saipan Real Estate Realty agent broker land sales leasing Manila Beijing Bangkok Tokyo Inchon Seoul Tianjin Hong Kong Cincinnati Fairfield Hamilton Ohio Morgan Slone Bulacan Obando Sunshine 100 Governor Ben Fitial Jack Abramoff corruption poverty federalization President Obama Bush CNRA persona non grata consultant







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