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The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an independent, sovereign nation made up of the four states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap which are a group of approximately 607 small islands in the Western Pacific lying just above the equator about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii and about 1,800 miles north of eastern Australia above Papua New Guinea. The FSM comprises part of what was generally known as the Eastern and Western Caroline Islands.


While the FSM's total land area is quite small and amounts to approximately 270 square miles, it occupies more than one million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. It ranges from Kosrae furthest to the East, then to Pohnpei, Chuuk, and finally to Yap furthest to the West, with a length of over 2,000 miles. Each of the four States is centered around one or more main high islands, and all but Kosrae includes numerous outlying atolls.


Chuuk, formerly known as Truk, has a land area of about 49.2 square miles and includes seven major island groups. Pohnpei, formerly known as Ponape, has about 133.4 square miles of land. Almost all of that total is accounted for by Pohnpei island, the largest in the FSM. Pohnpei also includes the outlying island groups of Pingelap, Mokil, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi. Yap is made up of 4 relatively large islands, 7 small islands, and 134 atolls, with a total land area of about 45 square miles. Kosrae, formerly known as Kusaie, is essentially one high island of 42.3 square miles.


The FSM enjoys a tropical climate, with relatively even, warm temperatures throughout the year. Rainfall is generally plentiful, and Pohnpei reputedly is one of the wettest places on Earth, with certain locations receiving up to 330 inches of rain per year.


The FSM was formerly a part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI), but formed it's own constitutional government on May 10, 1979. Other neighboring island entities, and also members of the TTPI, formulated their own constitutional governments and became the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau (ROP). The Northern Mariana Islands opted to become a commonwealth of the United States and became the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The FSM is an independent, sovereign nation with a seat in the United Nations.


The FSM National Capitol is located in Palikir, Pohnpei, where the Office of the FSM President, the FSM Supreme Court, and the FSM Congress are located. The FSM Constitution provides for three separate branches of government at the national level - Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The constitution contains aDeclaration of Rights similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights, specifying basic standards of human and individual rights. It also contains provisions recognizing and protecting traditional rights. Many major governmental functions other than the conduct of foreign affairs and defense are carried out by the state governments.


The Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia is a unicameral law making body with 14 Senators - one from each state elected for a four-year term, and ten who serve two-year terms, whose seats are apportioned by population. Chuuk has six seats, Pohnpei four and Yap and Kosrae each have two seats. See, Art. IX of the FSM Constitution.


The President and Vice President, who head the Executive Branch, are elected by the members of the FSM Congress, from among the four-year Senators, and the vacant seats are then filled in special elections. The Executive Branch has the duty to execute the laws and administer national government services. See, Art. X of the FSM Constitution.


The Judicial Branch of the National Government is composed of the FSM Supreme Court, comprised of Justices who sit in trial and appellate divisions. At this time there are no other National courts. Justices are nominated by the President for a lifetime appointment and confirmed by the Congress. The job of the judicial branch is to interpret the constitution and laws of the nation. See, Art. XI of the FSM Constitution.


The state governments under their constitutions are structurally similar, all utilizing three co-equal branches of government, the executive, legislative and judicial. Each of the state constitutions contain provisions recognizing and preserving local custom and tradition.


The FSM entered into a Compact of Free Association with the United States on November 3, 1986. The Compact provides for continuous close ties to the United States through mutual obligations and fiscal assistance agreed to in that agreement. Certain provisions of the Compact of Free Association, most notably the economic provisions, were amended in 2004. The documents relating to these amendments can be found at the FSM Joint Committee on Compact Economic Negotiations website.

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