Preface Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:06 AM
After 40 years as a U.S.-administered United Nations Trust
Territory, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) emerged as a
sovereign nation in 1986. The U.S. Embassy in Kolonia has the
unusual opportunity to not only shape the relationship between the
two nations but to assist in the development of the FSM itself, a
process which entails overseeing a wide variety of U.S. Government
activities carried out across a broad expanse of the Pacific. The
607 islands that comprise the Federated States are among the world's
most remote sites; serving in Embassy Kolonia features extraordinary
challenges and opportunities in moving the FSM towards becoming a
more developed and self-sufficent society.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 8/3/2005 0:46 AM
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consist of four
states—Yap, Chuuk (formerly Truk), Pohnpei (formerly Ponape), and
Kosrae, which cover 1 million square miles of the Central Pacific
Ocean in the Caroline Islands chain. The FSM's jagged borders
stretch from 136°E to 166°E longitude (from Kosrae to Yap) and from
just north of the Equator at Kapingamarangi Island to approximately
12°N of the Equator near Guam. Palikir, the capital, is located on
Pohnpei Island at latitude 6°54'N, longitude 158°14'E. The Embassy
is in Kolonia, 15 minutes from Palikir. The post is 5,580 miles from
Los Angeles, 3,090 miles from Honolulu, 2,850 miles from Sydney,
2,575 miles from Manila, and 1,020 miles from Guam, the closest
"Micronesia" denotes "small islands," an apt description for the
geography of the FSM, which has 607 islands, 65 of them inhabited.
The total land area is a modest 270.8 square miles. Geologically,
the FSM varies from high mountainous islands to low, coral atolls to
volcanic outcroppings. Pohnpei Island, 13 miles in diameter and 129
square miles in area, includes almost half the FSM's land area.
Pohnpei readily shows its volcanic origins with many hills and
cliffs, as well as basalt outcroppings such as Sokeh's Rock, a
striking landmark at the entrance to Kolonia Harbor. Kosrae, though
smaller, is geologically similar to Pohnpei; the islands of Yap and
Chuuk are much older and have been eroded to lower elevations.
Pohnpei is thickly forested, rimmed by mangrove forests, and has
a few man-made sandy beaches. Pohnpei is surrounded by a large
lagoon with an outer barrier reef about 2 miles from shore. Within
the lagoon are more than 25 volcanic and coral islands. Pohnpei is
one of the wettest spots on Earth, with an annual rainfall of about
200 inches a year in Kolonia and as much as 400 inches in the
mountainous interior. Rain falls heavily throughout the year, though
January through March are the least rainy months. Northeasterly
trade winds blow most of the year. Damaging tropical storms
originate in the region around and to the East of Pohnpei. They
therefore have generally not gained much strength when passing
Pohnpei and inflict more damage on Chuuk and Yap to the West. The
temperature averages 81°F year round. Evenings are mild, in the low
70s, and daytime temperatures seldom exceed the upper 80s. Humidity
is high, averaging 89%, resulting in rapid growth of mildew and mold
in non-air-conditioned environments. Air quality is excellent and
free of pollutants.
As a tropical post, Kolonia has the expected complement of pests:
ants, termites, roaches, and centipedes. All of these can be kept
under control by regular cleaning and spraying. Geckoes populate the
houses and provide a natural insect control service. The island has
no snakes and is malaria- and rabies- free. Wild deer live in the
interior and are hunted by the local population.
Population Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:10 AM
The 2000 Federated States of Micronesia census recorded a
population of 107,240. That net gain of only 1,726 over the 1994
census is evidence of a large-scale emigration to the U.S. Until the
mid-1990s, the population growth rate was 3.28%, doubling every 24
years. The current rate is .2 percent, a decrease explained by the
departure of an estimated 30,000 FSM citizens for the U.S. and its
territories. Pohnpei State has approximately 34,500 inhabitants,
with 5,800 residing in Kolonia. Half of the population is under the
age of 19 with approximately 51% male and 49% female. Overall life
expectancy is 68.63 years.
Although most peoples of the FSM share a Micronesian heritage,
languages and cultures differ among and within the different states.
There are four major languages: Yapese, Chuukese, Pohnpeian, and
Kosrean—all part of the Austronesian family. Nine other languages
and dialects are also spoken within the country, including two
Polynesian languages. English, widely spoken and the official
language, bridges the many linguistic gaps.
Years of U.S. administration brought an influx of Western culture
that has eroded the indigenous cultures of the societies, although
traditional leaders and cultural patterns still are influential,
especially in Yap State. As a rule, the smaller "outer" islands and
villages further away from the state capitals better preserve
traditional ways. Land, due to its scarcity, is the ultimate
denominator of social status in Micronesia. Parcels are passed down
through the generations, reinforcing the importance of the family to
Micronesian society. Social activity in Micronesia revolves around
the family and the extended clan to a degree difficult for outsiders
The Micronesian islands have been fertile fields for missionary
activity, with the result that almost all FSM citizens are
Christian. Statistics show 50% Roman Catholic, 47% Protestant, and
3% other. Kolonia is served by Assembly of God, Baha'i, Baptist,
Buddhist, Catholic, Church of Christ variants based on 19th Century
Congregationalism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormon, Salvation Army, and
Seventh-day Adventist churches as well as the interdenominational
organization Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
Religion is an important part of the culture, and all clergy are
well respected by the inhabitants.
The outside world had little contact with the islands until the
mid-19th century, when American whalers and missionaries entered the
region. Spain claimed the Caroline and Mariana Islands in 1885 and
held them tenuously until 1899, when Germany purchased most of the
island chains in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Germany,
in turn, lost its possession to Japan in 1914 at the beginning of
World War I. The League of Nations formally extended a mandate to
Japan in 1920, thus confirming the Japanese era of colonization.
Significant Japanese immigration led to intensive agricultural
development, and the islands became exporters of many products.
Although subject to repeated air attack during WWII, Pohnpei was
never invaded; the Japanese garrison surrendered to the U.S. Navy on
September 11, 1945. In 1945, after World War II, control passed to
the U.S. Navy and then to the Department of Interior under a
Trusteeship under UN auspices which began in 1947. The FSM, together
with the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Northern Mariana Islands, made
up the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The FSM came into
existence in 1979, and on November 3, 1986, the FSM and the United
States agreed to a Compact of Free Association which established the
relationship between the two nations.
The Compact, which was revised in 2003 to improve accountability
and promote sustainable economic development, confirms the FSM's
authority to manage its domestic affairs and to conduct foreign
affairs in its own right. The U.S. retains full authority and
responsibility for security and defense issues. The Compact also
outlines governmental, legal, and economic relations between the
countries. Of particular importance is the fact that citizens of the
FSM can travel to, live, work, and study in the United States
without visas. Over the period of the first Compact, the FSM
received U.S. Government funding of over $2 billion. Current support
under compact and from other USG programs totals $130 million per
year. During the next 18 years, annual Compact assistance will be
gradually reduced; the FSM will therefore need to find new revenue
sources, improve its tax system, and cut spending.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 8/3/2005 0:48 AM
The Federated States of Micronesia has a democratic government
with fair elections. The governmental structure is roughly modeled
on the U.S. The FSM national government is headed by a President and
Vice President; the President appoints Cabinet members who
administer national affairs; the other two branches, Congress, and
the Supreme Court, function much as the American institutions,
albeit with fewer personnel. The Congress is unicameral, and
legislators serve either 2- or 4-year terms. Two-year Senators are
elected from districts apportioned on the basis of population.
Four-year Senators are elected at large, one from each state. The
President and Vice President are chosen from the ranks of the
at-large Senators by a majority vote of Congress. No political
Each of the four states is headed by a governor elected for a
four-year term, balanced by a state legislature and a state supreme
court. Although this structure parallels the American system, the
FSM Constitution gives more power to Congress than to the Executive
Branch and the states have substantially more independence and power
than their American counterparts.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:12 AM
Pohnpei is home of the FSM College of Micronesia (FSM-COM), which
maintains branch colleges in each of the FSM states. In
collaboration with the University of Guam (UOG), a Bachelor of Arts
degree is offered for elementary teachers. FSM-COM also offers a
3-year business certificate in accounting, and Associate of Arts
(AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degrees. The AA degrees are
offered in liberal arts/education, health career, hotel and
restaurant management, media studies and Micronesian studies. The AS
degrees are offered in accounting, general agriculture, business
administration, computer information systems, early childhood
education, marine science, and teacher education for elementary and
special education. Outside of the formal educational structure, the
FSM is host in any given year to several visiting researchers,
particularly in the fields of anthropology, marine resources, and
In addition to COM-FSM, public and church-sponsored private
schools are available from preschool (4 year olds), primary (grades
K–8) to high school (9–12). Academic scores are often below U.S.
standards. One private school takes 3–5 year olds for half a day.
There are no Department of Defense schools. The closest boarding
school for high school students is located in Hawaii.
Cultural and artistic institutions in the Western sense do not
exist in Kolonia, although woodcarving, weaving, local dancing, and
choral singing are popular local forms of artistic expression. The "sakau"
ceremony is tcentral to Pohnpeian culture. Sakau, (aka. Kava, Piper
Methysticum) a drink made from a pepper-plant root, is a mild
narcotic that is very important both culturally and socially.
Originally reserved for rites performed by traditional leadership,
consumption has been democratized and commercialized in recent
years, and serves as a lubricant for interpersonal relations as well
as the settlement of disputes. Most Pohnpeian decisions are made
over the sakau stone. Funerals are a significant part of the
culture; Pohnpeians face significant obligations of both time and
material — pigs, sakau, and giant yams — whenever a funeral is held.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:13 AM
The Federated States' Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for FY 2004
was estimated at $218.7 million, equivalent to a per capita GDP of
$2,084. The real growth rate was -3.3%. A significant portion of the
population earns a livelihood from subsistence fishing and
agriculture. Of those working within the monetized economy, more
than half are government-employed. Palikir, as the national capital,
has the highest proportion of government employees, drawn from all
four states. Micronesian technical and legal specialists are
increasing in number but remain in short supply. Many professional
positions are filled by American and expatriate contract employees,
and most construction, skilled, and semi-skilled tasks are performed
by Filipino workers.
The FSM is attempting to strengthen local production and exports.
Currently, the business sector in the FSM is modest and centers on
small retail establishments selling imported goods. Potential for
development of agricultural products is good in the states of Kosrae
and Pohnpei, which produce excellent citrus (though a citrus cancre
infestation currently prevents its export) and world-renowned
pepper, respectively. Initiatives to improve the airport are being
considered. The untouched islands of the FSM are desirable tourist
destinations, but this sector remains small in scale due to lack of
support facilities, high air fares to reach the main islands, and
limited and unpredictable transportation links to outer islands. The
nation encompasses rich tuna fishing waters. A multilateral
fisheries pact with the U.S. and several bilateral fishing treaties
provide a steady flow of tuna licensing fees, though these have
decreased over recent years. The U.S. provided a $20 million
investment development fund under the Compact to encourage joint
ventures. The FSM national government has implemented an ambitious
national development plan to enhance infrastructure and expand local
production and social services. However, geographical isolation,
very limited capacity to ship cargo to the islands, and poorly
developed infrastructure are major impediments to long-term growth.
Previous development initiatives have often failed; Yap's two
garment factories, staffed by Chinese workers, closed with the end
of textile quotas. State owned fisheries companies have consistently
lost money and pepper and button export efforts did not survive.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:14 AM
Although Kolonia has taxis, a personal vehicle is essential. Only
40 miles of road on the island are paved, and outside of town, 15
miles of roads are partially to upaved. Paving is a slow and on
going project. Most vehicles on the island are Japanese, and
employees with American-made vehicles import most repair parts from
Guam or Honolulu. Some American parts are available at the NAPA Auto
Parts. Repair service is available, but computerized diagnostic
equipment and the ability to repair automatic transmissions are
limited. The high humidity, salt air, and poor rural road conditions
make rust-proofing, undercoating, and frequent washing advisable.
Undercoating can be done locally.
Most employees drive sedans, but some have imported four-wheel
drive SUVs. Pickup trucks are a popular mode of island transport and
have the best resale value. If you plan to explore the island, we
recommend a small four-wheel drive vehicle. Given the short
distances traveled and problems with corrosion, many personnel
choose used or reconditioned vehicles, either shipped in or
purchased locally. Secondhand vehicles with right-hand drive arrive
from Japan frequently and can be bought at reasonable prices.
Departing foreigners and local car rental firms are also sources.
There are no new-car dealers on the island. Vehicles may be ordered
from Japan through internet dealers, with delivery in 10–12 weeks.
Some locals import their own U.S. specification vehicles from Guam.
No diplomatic discounts are available locally. There are no
restrictions on resale.
Employees who ship vehicles should bring at least two spare tires
plus spark plugs, belts, windshield wiper blades, fuses, and
windshield washer fluid. Some of these items are available locally,
but at higher than U.S. prices. Air-conditioning is strongly
recommended. Liability insurance is required and can be purchased
locally. Mobil is the sole supplier of petroleum products; unleaded
gasoline sells for at least $3.25 per gallon, U.S.-specification
cars should retain their catalytic converters. Diesel fuel is
Small boats are available. Used boats typically need repair,
which can be accomplished on the island. However, outboard motors
are extremely expensive and difficult to obtain; available used
motors are often in poor condition.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:14 AM
Transportation between Pohnpei and the three other states and to
neighboring countries is by Continental Air Micronesia, which
operates Boeing 737-800s on the "Island Hopper" route. Flights are
regular (currently three times a week to Hawaii and four times a
week to Guam) but very expensive. Travel to those outer islands of
Pohnpei State with operable airfields is by Caroline Islands Air,
Inc., which flies a Britten-Norman Islander; Pacific Missionary
Aviation operates Beech Queen Airs on routes between Yap and its
outer islands. Many other locations are reachable only by the "Field
Trip Ship." Pohnpei state's ship, the Micro Glory, the last survivor
of its class, is in poor condition, so these runs are now being
handled by the FSM Voyager on a quarterly basis. Chuuk is operating
a Chinese-built cargo and passenger ship for inter-island
transportation, the Chief Mailo, which entered service in late 2004.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:15
Telephones are available in the FSM. All U.S. Embassy personnel
have a home phone. AT&T, MCI, Sprint and GTE Hawaii calling cards
are accepted in the FSM for long-distance calls. Local phone service
is $8 per month with unlimited local calling. The local Telecom
connections with the U.S. are excellent and cost $1.20 per minute
during the day and $.60 per minute from 1700–0700 and on weekends.
Kolonia can be dialed directly from the U.S., using the sequence
011–691– (local number). The telephone number of the U.S. Embassy in
Kolonia is 320–2187. The fax number is 320-2186.
Individuals with GSM unlocked tri-band cell phones can use them
in the FSM by purchasing alocal SIM card for $24.00. These pre-pay
cards can be charged using FSM Telecom pre-paid phone cards to add
time as needed. Local cell calls are charged at $.10 per minue and
calls to the U.S. are charged at $1.00 per minute between 6:00 am
and 6:00 pm and $.47 per minute during other times. Cell phones can
be purchased locally, but are expensive by U.S. standards. Cell
phones can also be rented for $20.00 a week plus pre-paid call
charges. Further information is available from FSM Telecom at
Internet Last Updated: 7/26/2005 6:34 PM
Dial-up Internet service is available through FSM Telecom.
Basic Package: $19.95 for 10 hours per month and 1 email address
HomeSaver Package: $44.95 for 30 hours per month and 5 email
Business Saver Package: $79.95 for 60 hours per month and 10
Elite Saver Package: $149.95 for 120 hours and 15 email addresses
Visitors Package: $19.95 for 5 hours inclusive of account
installation. Additional usage beyond package will be charged at the
rate of $1.95 per hour.
Package Upgrades: Upgrades can be made at any time for a fee of
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:16 AM
Under the terms of the Compact, the U.S. Postal Service continues
to provide mail delivery to the Federated States of Micronesia. The
U.S. and FSM systems are closely linked, and local mail operations
are similar to that of a U.S. Post Office. Each FSM state has a U.S.
ZIP Code (Pohnpei's is 96941), and mail between the U.S. and Kolonia
is sent at the U.S. domestic rate. However, mail sent from the U.S.
to Micronesia uses U.S. stamps, while mail sent from Micronesia to
the U.S. uses Micronesian stamps. Insured, certified, and registered
mail may be sent and received. First-class mail delivery is erratic,
taking from 1 week to several months to reach Kolonia from the U.S.
mainland. Surface mail generally arrives in 2–3 months. Magazines
that are not sent airmail may take 2–7 months or longer to arrive.
Personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy should use the regular
Embassy address as their own:
AmEmbassy Kolonia, P.O. Box 1286, Pohnpei, FSM 96941
Alternatively, Embassy personnel can use the pouch address of:
4120 Kolonia Place Dulles VA 20189-4120
Other personnel should obtain a postal box on arrival. Some
corporate computers may not accept the abbreviation "FSM" or "FM,"
which can cause mailing difficulties. Outgoing local mail is
slightly faster than incoming and pouch.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 7/30/2005 7:36 PM
Pohnpei has two AM and four FM stations. The state-owned AM radio
station broadcasts Micronesian music and announcements. A commercial
FM radio station broadcasts U.S. contemporary and local music, but
reception is limited to the Kolonia area, as is that of an FM
repeater station transmitting BBC World Service programming. The
College of Micronesia FM station is audible in the Palikir area of
Pohnpei. A church-operated AM/FM station broadcasts primarily in
English, offering religious programming, Christian music and VOA
news for 5 minutes every hour, on the hour. In addition, special
sport broadcasts, election results, and weather reports are provided
on the AM stations. Shortwave radios can pick up BBC, VOA, and Radio
Australia. During the evening, Japanese and Australian AM stations
can be heard.
Kolonia has a cable TV company, which broadcasts its basic
service for $25 a month, with premium channels available for an
additional $10. Basic channels include: BBC World, Turner Classic
Movies, Cartoon Network, CNN, ESPN, Star World, NHK (Japan), PREL
(Hawaii), Sound Track Channel, Adventure 1, Living Asia Channel,
China Central TV (English), Knowledge Channel, Star Sports,
Discovery Channel, EWTN, Channel V, and the Australian Broadcasting
Corp Asia Pacific Service. Star Movies, National Geographic, and The
Philippine Channel are offered as premium channels. The broadcast
system is NTSC, as in the U.S., so no special set is needed. TVs are
available locally, but prices are higher than in the U.S.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
8/11/2005 11:16 AM
The Guam Pacific Daily News is sold in one outlet; copies are
received 1–3 days after publication date. Kasehleilie Press, a
newspaper printed in Pohnpei, appears biweekly, as does the Kosrae-based
Alliance. No bookstores are found on the island. Personnel will do
well to ship reading material with HHE.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:17 AM
Kolonia no longer has U.S. Public Health Service physicians. The
regional medical officer in Manila provides coverage to post. Two
private doctors, one is educated at the University of Hawaii and the
other in the Philippines, run private clinics. The Peace Corps
medical officer is a physician's assistant. His contract is for
Peace Corps volunteers only, but in an emergency he can lend
assistance to U.S. Government personnel. Any semi-serious situation
requiring medical attention requires evacuation. Local hospitals are
unhygienic, understaffed and in generally poor condition. Medical
equipment is often inoperative or poorly maintained. Dental care is
well below Western standards. Most personnel choose to go off island
for anything beyond common ailments (i.e., colds, headaches). In
emergency situations the closest U.S.-trained medical personnel are
in Guam. Diving accidents have necessitated airlifts to Guam, though
hyperbaric chambers and qualified operators are arriving in
Community Health Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:17 AM
Although great improvements in the quality of the water supply
were made from 1992 to 1994, Embassy personnel are cautioned not to
drink the tapwater. Embassy Foreign Service personnel have water
distillers in their homes. Local community health standards are
variable, and sanitation practices in stores and restaurants are, in
general, far below U.S. standards. Public health measures are few.
Tuberculosis, leprosy and venereal disease are common, but post
personnel who have no intimate contact with the population have no
cause for concern. There are no confirmed AIDS cases in Pohnpei. FSM
National Health Services records indicate from 1989–2000 there were
8 HIV, 4 AIDS cases, and 8 HIV/AIDS deaths in the FSM. In 2001,
there were 5 HIV cases confirmed in the FSM.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
The regional medical officer advises boiling water for 10 minutes
before drinking if you have no distiller. Some Americans choose to
take their chances with occasional gastrointestinal distress. Bring
Aqua Tabs or tablets that kill waterborne germs to soak vegetables.
Local milk is unavailable, but there is a steady supply of potable
ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk from California and Australia.
Personnel should have up-to-date immunizations. Since Hepatitis B
is endemic in the Pacific Islands, some personnel have chosen to be
vaccinated against this disease at their own expense. This disease
is transmitted solely by blood exchange and sexual contact;
nonetheless, the possibility, however remote, of an emergency blood
transfusion has prompted a few persons to seek out the vaccine.
Gamma globulin shots are recommended. The island has four
pharmacies. Personnel requiring any special medication should bring
a 6-month supply to post. The pharmacies can have refills shipped
in. Bring a good supply of over-the-counter remedies, since local
stores may lack even common items, or, if available, sell them at
The island is free of malaria and rabies. Several years ago an
outbreak of Dengue Fever occurred in Kosrae, and in 2000 there was a
serious outbreak of cholera in Pohnpei, with 19 fatalities. Pests
encountered are seldom dangerous. Exceptions are venomous
centipedes, which inflict painful stings, and jellyfish, which
sometimes drift through local waters.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 8/11/2005
The situation at post is mixed. The FSM and Pohnpei state
governments need trained personnel, and U.S. dependents have a good
record of finding employment. In the past, American spouses have
been employed as a financial planner for the national government,
civil engineer, dietitian, and bookkeeper. In each case, personnel
came to post with these qualifications and were able to fill a need.
Employment prospects depend on individual skills, and, as a rough
rule, personnel with technical or legal backgrounds will have the
most success. The public sector is comparatively small, so shortages
notwithstanding, there is no guarantee of employment.
Americans hired in the FSM receive lower salaries than employees
recruited abroad. Salaries for local hires: secretarial salaries
range from $6,390–$7,160 and attorneys range from $11,270–$13,950,
free of U.S. tax. Locally employed dependents must pay 6% FSM income
tax. On the other hand, attorneys hired from the U.S. can obtain a
beginning salary of $25,000.
Office efficiency and amenities are not to be compared with
American environments, but most dependents have been satisfied. It
is difficult to arrange employment before arrival. Government
offices have trouble identifying vacancies in advance and prefer to
assess the candidate firsthand. Any advance promises of employment
should be received in writing. U.S. ctizens do not need work permits
Volunteer work is not well established, but some Americans have
assisted the Pohnpei Public Library. Other opportunities may present
themselves to an enterprising volunteer.
American Embassy - Kolonia
Post City Last Updated: 7/30/2005 7:39 PM
Kolonia, Pohnpei's largest town, has approximately 5,800
inhabitants and occupies seven square miles at the northern end of
Pohnpei Island. It features the State Capital, the island's only
post office, and most of the island's commercial activity. Street
signs were introduced in July 2005, and some consideration is being
given to obtaining a traffic light.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:19 AM
Although the FSM is a sovereign government, U.S.-FSM relations
have a special character, due to the Compact of Free Association.
The State Department contingent consists of an Ambassador, DCM (POL/ECON/CONS),
a Management/Consular Officer, and a Foreign Service Office Manager
and Communicator (AMB/OMS/COMSEC). Locally-Engaged AMCITS serve as
IMO, and GSO. Six Foreign Service Nationals fill the Pol/Mil Asst,
Econ/PD Asst, Adm/Con Asst., Procurement/Admin Asst., Receptionist,
Driver, and Custodian positions. The Ambassador supervises all U.S.
activities, civilian and military, throughout the Federated States.
U.S. Government agencies represented in the FSM include the
Department of the Interior, U.S. Forestry Service, Peace Corps, USDA
Rural Development, and the USDA Soil Conservation. Because some 40
U.S. Government agencies have interests or programs in the FSM,
there is a constant flow of TDY personnel.
The small size and rustic atmosphere of the post allows a good
deal of informality in operations and requires a good ration of
adaptability from personnel assigned here. The Embassy is located
across from the Pohnpei Visitor's Bureau and informal Botanical
Gardens (the pre-war Japanese Agriculture Station) in Kolonia. Upon
arrival in Pohnpei, U.S. Embassy personnel are met at the airport.
If for some reason you are not met upon arrival, ask the Air
Micronesia representative at the airport for help in contacting
Official office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
with a 1-hour lunch. Hours for U.S. Government employees not
assigned to the Embassy itself will be governed by their particular
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:32 AM
Personnel awaiting housing are usually placed in local hotels.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:19 AM
The Ambassador's residence is a two-story, three bedroom,
two-and-one-half-bath dwelling with 2,823 net square feet of living
space. The first floor has two living rooms, a dining room, kitchen,
laundry, guest restroom, storage space and carport. The second floor
holds three bedrooms and two baths. A terrace encircles the second
floor with a smaller terrace on the first floor and a small,
decorative garden. The house is fully air-conditioned and security
features are installed.
The Deputy Chief of Mission's home occupies 1,453 net square feet
on one floor. It has three bedrooms, two baths, a large front
terrace overlooking jungle and ocean accessible from the living and
dining rooms, and a carport. It is fully air-conditioned and
security features are installed. The Ambassador's residence and
DCM's home are adjacent and share a nahs—a Micronesian thatched
meeting hut. The houses are exceptionally situated on a high cliff
looking north over the Pacific.
The Ambassador's Office Manager's residence occupies 1,141 net
square feet on one floor. It has three bedrooms, two baths (with
showers only), a terrace connected to the living/dining room, a
kitchen, carport, storage unit below the house, and a slight view of
the Pohnpei Harbor. It is fully air-conditioned, and security
features are installed.
The Management/Consular Officer's house is located in Palikir, a
15 minute drive from the Embassy. It has a net living space of 1,221
square feet, is fully air conditioned, and has a car port.
Housing for non-Foreign Service personnel is comparable or less
satisfactory. The Peace Corps staff has smaller houses, which have
air-conditioning, security features, and are of comfortable
standards. The director's house has two bedrooms, one bath, and a
medium living/dining area, a carport, a small lawn adjacent to the
street, and security features that meet post standards. Personnel of
other agencies live in homes leased from the private sector. These
houses are sometimes small, ill-maintained, and lack fundamental
features. Security features on the houses vary; some personnel have
installed security grillwork at their own expense.
Furnishings Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Foreign Service housing is fully furnished with predominantly
hardwood and occasional outdoor and indoor rattan pieces. Personnel
should bring decorative items, baby furniture (if applicable),
stereo equipment and radios, TV, VCR, and DVD. A portable barbecue
and equipment would get good use. Houses come with basic kitchen and
laundry appliances: range, microwave, refrigerator-freezer, full
freezer, washer and dryer, a five-gallon water distiller, and
ladders. Houses are fully air-conditioned and include ceiling fans,
but caution still must be taken with mildew. It is not advisable to
bring expensive or irreplaceable items, such as original artworks,
oriental rugs, or heirlooms.
Peace Corps housing is also furnished, and the same caveats
Other agency housing: non-Foreign Service personnel will want to
consult with their predecessors as much in advance as possible.
Furnishings and appliances in housing provided by the host
government do not approach U.S. standards, and employees often must
ship basic appliances and furniture. Air-conditioning may not be
Appliances can be purchased on the island, but selection is small
and prices are high. Locally made wooden furniture can be purchased,
but prices approach U.S. levels and quality of work is moderate.
Fiber mats are occasionally seen in handicraft stores. Other
especially useful items to bring are shelves, especially the metal,
ready-to-assemble type, lamps, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers,
and any special furniture for infants and children.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:20 AM
Power supply is 110 volts, 60 cycles, but actual line voltage and
frequency vary. Power surges are frequent, and all personnel should
bring quality surge protectors for stereos, TVs, and PCs. Hardware
stores sell good multi-outlet protectors with built-in circuit
breakers. U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps personnel have backup
electrical generators, which ensure 24-hour power. Other personnel
may wish to buy a generator after their arrival at post.
Food Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:21 AM
A basic selection of food, including many U.S. brands, is
available at post, but high prices, very limited choices and "past
due" expiration dates make it advisable for personnel to import
consumables, if possible. There are frequent shortages of food
items; during the last year, flour, sugar, and rice have been
unavailable for periods of several weeks. Gourmet or specialty goods
are not available.
Several moderately sized supermarkets operate in Kolonia, along
with a few small general stores. Food stocks vary with each cargo
shipment. The selection approximates that of a small Mom and Pop
store in an urban environment, i.e., basic canned goods, pastas,
bottled sauces, cleaning supplies, condiments, some dairy products,
frozen vegetables, and frozen meat, fish, and poultry. Locally baked
bread is adequate. Bringing a bread machine would be useful. Steak,
hamburger, pork, and chicken are imported from the U.S., and while
of a lower quality than found in a normal U.S. supermarket, are
fully acceptable if the purchaser checks for freezer burn or
thawing/refreezing. Fresh tuna and small "reef fish" are for sale in
the public market, and mangrove crab is frequently offered.
A limited selection of canned and bottled baby foods are
available. The high humidity wilts crackers and cereals, but chips
purchased in metal tins keep well. Dairy supplies are improving.
Imported butter and margarine are in good supply, while a modest
selection of cheeses are in stock. Ice cream is very popular on
Pohnpei, and although the stores are careful to keep this in stock,
selection and quality is basic. No fresh milk is to be found, but
there is an ample supply of California and Australian ultra-high
temperature (UHT) milk. Having a large picnic cooler is very useful
for bringing frozen items from the Guam Commissaries when one
transits that island on TDYs.
Kolonia has only a meager selection of fresh fruits and
vegetables. Although Pohnpei is lush, cultivation of these crops is
rare. Local agriculture revolves around yam, taro, banana, and
breadfruit. Sweet potatoes, plantains, pineapples, green onions, and
tangerines can occasionally be found, but the only fresh fruits and
vegetables normally available in stores are oranges, apples,
cucumber, green cabbage, green bell peppers, brown and red potatoes,
ginger, yellow onions, and eggplant. Freight ships bring "fresh"
vegetables about twice a month from the U.S. Personnel supplement
its diet with frozen and canned vegetables or through home gardens.
Arrangements can also be made with local farmers to buy fresh
vegetables regularly on a small scale. The DCM has a vegetable
garden, in which corn, tomatoes, papaya, noni, avocados, and various
Thai herbs are being grown.
Fruit drinks and carbonated drinks are plentiful, though they
often are generic or little-known brands. Beer from Australian,
Japanese, and U.S. breweries is available. Wine is scarce,
expensive, and stored under inhospitable conditions. Oenophiles
should include cases in their shipment if agency regulations permit.
The FSM permits import of fresh produce. Agriculture inspectors
tend to admit without problem foods brought from the U.S. mainland
in the original, unopened packages, e.g., shrink-wrapped,
plastic-packaged vegetables and meats. The traveler's assurance that
the items originated in the U.S. usually suffices. Loose vegetables
and fruits are usually confiscated. Meat and poultry may be imported
from the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, and Guam.
Direct-hire U.S. Government personnel are authorized use of
commissaries and PXs at Orote Naval Station and Anderson Air Force
Base on Guam.
Clothing Last Updated: 8/3/2005 3:51 AM
Although the FSM is quite hot and humid, the Embassy in Kolonia
is air-conditioned, which allows for some clothing flexibility. The
style of dress, both during and after work, is casual.
No dry cleaning or professional laundry services are available on
the island. Office attire for men is slacks, with a pullover sport
shirt or short-sleeve buttoned shirt. Office attire for women
includes lightweight blouses and skirts or sundresses. Wearing
jackets and hosiery are optional. Footwear is also very casual, with
sandals, lightweight fabric, woven leather, and, for after hours,
plastic "zoris" are the norm. Good, inexpensive, zoris can be
Micronesians consider exposure of women's thighs to be indecent,
so short skirts and shorts and tight-fitting slacks should not be
worn as everyday attire. For both men and women, Bermuda, knee
length or longer, baggy shorts are totally acceptable for casual
Ceremonial and social style is also quite casual in Kolonia, and
a man may not have occasion to wear a tie and jacket in an entire
year. Men should bring one dark lightweight suit, a lightweight
blazer, and a tie or two in the event of national celebrations,
presentations of credentials, inaugurations, funerals of heads of
state, or military ceremonies in Guam. Women should have
correspondingly "dressy" but cool attire. Men should bring one or
two pairs of leather shoes; women may wish to bring leather shoes,
but fabric shoes will be acceptable on these more formal occasions.
Personnel sometimes travel on leave or temporary duty to
neighboring Asian capitals, and appropriate dress for such trips
should be included. Formal dress is never worn in Kolonia.
Since there is little seasonal variation, the same type of attire
may be worn year round. Clothing supply in Kolonia is minimal and
generally in smaller sizes. Personnel should bring a full tropical
wardrobe with them, plan on making purchases en route in Honolulu or
Manila, or have items made locally. The Guam PXs have a basic
selection of clothing.
Personnel can take advantage of trips to Manila to purchase good,
inexpensive lightweight clothing. There are also colorful, locally
embroidered skirts and a small but attractive selection of dresses
from Bali sold in local stores, which means smaller women will have
better luck in local purchases than men. Most employees use
catalogues and the Internet.
Children's clothing can be bought locally, but prices are high
and selection is poor. Families should bring a good basic wardrobe
for children and plan to supplement this with purchases in Guam,
Honolulu, or through catalog orders.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:22 AM
Stocks vary from month to month with the arrival of each cargo
ship. Store managers are not always consistent in their orders and
are not inclined to maintain large inventories. In general, the
basics can be found. It is recommended, however, that personnel
bring a supply of any household items they anticipate using during
their tour. Local stores sell sundries, cleaning supplies, and other
household items, but the selection is small and supply
unpredictable. Prices for these items may be two to three times the
Although available, paper products (facial tissues, paper towels,
toilet tissue, disposable diapers, napkins), aluminum foil, and
plastic wrap seem to be especially high priced. A good supply of
light bulbs should be sent, including the yellow "bug lights" for
Liquor variety is modest and expensive, so personnel should pack
a supply of their favorite brands, agency regulations permitting, or
plan to purchase items at the Guam PX. Entertaining is infrequent
and informal, so no unusual preparation is needed.
A few pounds of boric acid and/or ant and roach-control products
are highly recommended. Pohnpei cockroaches have no immunity to
insecticides, and any commercial spray and "Combat" ant and roach
traps will be effective. Mosquitoes are an occasional problem in
Kolonia and can be rectified with mosquito coils and netting. For
outlying island trips, 15–20 yards of netting for two persons could
be useful. If considering gardening, bringing insecticides to deal
with white flies is recommended.
Although there are no bookstores, a few children's books can be
purchased at local grocery stores; otherwise, the College of
Micronesia Library, Micronesian Seminar and the Pohnpei Public
Library have books for loan.
A few stores sell a very limited selection of toys and games. All
holiday and party supplies and cards should be shipped, but there
are basic paper plates, cups, and utensils available locally.
Ornaments and artificial trees should also be shipped. The local
hardware stores have a small selection and expensive artificial
trees. Sparse, live trees are sporadically offered at high prices.
Basic Services Last Updated: 7/26/2005 7:40 PM
Kolonia offers several modestly priced seamstresses that provide
simple tailoring services for that personalized fit and make
curtains to order quickly. A small selection of cotton and tropical
print fabrics and sewing patterns and notions are available. Local
laundromats are available, but not a dry cleaning service. A few
beauty shops are in operation. Electronics repair is meager, so
malfunctioning equipment must often be mailed or carried to Honolulu
or Guam. At least one entrepreneur repairs washing machines and
other large appliances. Automobile repair is available, although
parts availability may be a problem. Good boat repair is available.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Domestic and child-care services are readily available, but the
employer may have to go through a few employees before finding
suitable talent. Pohnpeian domestics are paid $2 per hour, and, as a
rule, do not cook and clean to U.S. standards. Micronesian
child-care can be attentive and adequate, and live-ins can be hired,
but care must be taken to find a suitable employee. Housing size,
more than any other factor, will determine the feasibility of having
Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Catholic and Protestant services are held in English and
Micronesian languages. U.S. citizens normally attend either the
Saturday evening English Mass at the Catholic Mission or Sunday
morning English nondenominational Protestant service. Other
denominations represented include Assembly of God, Baha'i, Baptist,
Buddhist, Church of Christ, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormon, Salvation
Army, Seventh-day Adventist and United Church of Christ churches, as
well as the interdenominational organization, Family Federation for
World Peace and Unification.
Dependent Education Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Statistics for 2000 show the FSM schools enrolled 5,300 in first
grade, while 1,500 students graduated from high school, resulting in
28% receiving their high school diploma. Student retention rates in
Pohnpei schools indicate that out of 100 that enter elementary
school, 100 first graders go on to second grade, 71 complete the 8th
grade while 44 enter the 9th grade and 28 graduate from 12th grade.
Approximately 5% of the FSM population have college degrees.
At Post Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:22 AM Most personnel with
children send them either to the Seventh-day Adventist, Catholic, or
Baptist schools. Seventh-day Adventist offers K–12 instruction in
English and has well-kept facilities with U.S. textbooks and U.S.
volunteer missionary instructors. Education is best in grades 1 to
6; above that level, the school falls short of the facilities and
faculty required to give students an American-equivalent education.
Host country and foreign children alike attend. Extracurricular
activities, including sports, are a part of the program. Since
places in the schools are limited, it is advisable to contact the
schools in advance of the assignment to reserve a spot. The Catholic
Mission and the Baptist Church operate schools, and standards are
adequate. Public schools do not meet U.S. standards. A Jesuit
boarding high school, Xavier College, is located at Weno, Chuuk
State, about 500 miles from Pohnpei.
Away From Post Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:23 AM Guam (1,020 miles
away) and Honolulu (3,090 miles) are the closest locations for
off-island education. A previous Embassy employee recommended the
Mid-Pacific Institute in Hawaii, which is a college prep school
(grades 6–12) that offers honors courses where credits can be
applied toward college.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Although Kolonia hosts the College of Micronesia-FSM, its
facilities are moderate, and most classes are likely to be
insufficiently rigorous for American personnel and dependents.
However, a former dependent was pleased with the computer course he
took. The college also offers courses in Pohnpeian and Japanese.
Programs for the handicapped and learning disabled are not
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:23 AM
With a wide variety of coral and marine life, including a variety
of sharks, colorful reef fish, and mantas, the FSM offers
outstanding opportunities for divers and snorkelers. The marine life
is unspoiled. On the island of Pohnpei, diving is mostly around the
barrier reef. Outer islands, such as Ant and Pakin atolls, offer
sandy white beaches and excellent scuba opportunities. Pakin Atoll
boasts some of the best gorgonian fans in the world. The Chuuk
Lagoon is world famous for its diving. More than 100 sunken planes,
ships, and submarines are at the bottom of the lagoon and accessible
to divers as a result of U.S. Navy bombing raids in World War II.
Yap and Kosrae also boast great diving.
A recognized scuba certification card is required for all
equipment rentals and scuba trips. The local dive shops, few as they
are, offer air refills. Equipment rental is becoming more and more
difficult, with unpredictable quality and availability. We recommend
divers bring their own regulators, BCDs, gauges, and as much gear as
possible with them. There are no official diving schools; however,
one location offers PADI certification training and sporadic
advanced diving. Prospective divers should try to become certified
Fishing and ocean trolling tours are available. Tuna is abundant
in waters off Kolonia, and game fish, such as marlin and mahi-mahi,
are also found. Anglers should bring ocean rigs or handlines. Due to
unpredictable, often slack winds, only a few sailboats are on the
island. The most common boats used are 19-foot skiffs, great for
reef and trolling, ranging from $1,000 (used) to $4,800–$6,300
Swimming in the warm, clear water is popular, but the absence of
local beaches on Pohnpei means that one must take a boat out to the
nearby islands or reef. Boat-taxi prices are very reasonable. Women
are discouraged from wearing skimpy bathing suits to avoid
difficulties with the local people.
For joggers and walkers, Kolonia offers interesting terrain for
early mornings and evenings. The heat and humidity makes midday
exertion difficult. Stray dogs can also be an aggravation. The
causeway between the airport and the main island offers beautiful
water and island scenery, pavement and grass, clean air, and is not
Baseball is an island-wide passion, and volleyball is also very
popular. There are two public tennis facilities on the island, two
courts at the Mayor's Office and four at a sports facility near the
Embassy but they are not in the best of condition. A local physician
also strings tennis racquets and sells tennis supplies. Table
tennis, softball, basketball, weight lifting, track and field and
wrestling are also available. All of the above sports have annual
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:24 AM
Although tourism is slack, Pohnpei is an ecotourist's delight,
containing 20 officially recognized sites. Highlights include the
coral reef that surrounds the island, lagoons, the birds, bats, and
crabs of the mangrove forests, and the upland rainforest with
stunning waterfalls—home to several bird and plant species which are
not found anywhere else in the world.
A must-see, and the most noteworthy archeological site on Pohnpei,
is the ruins of Nan Madol, built by the ancient chiefs and first
organized government of Pohnpei during the Saudeleur Dynasty that
ruled from 500 to 1450 A.D. The palatial stone compounds and basalt
ruins are built on manmade islands in the lagoon by Temwen Island,
off the east coast of Pohnpei. These impressive ruins are partially
under water, amid a maze of manmade channels overhung with tropical
foliage, which explains why Nan Madol is best accessed by boat
during high tide. However, during low tide the site can be reached
by automobile followed by hiking a distance through mud and
mangroves. Many of the sites have not been excavated and are
completely overgrown. Legend has it the palace was built by
"magicians" with occult skills and unusual amounts of enlightenment
who caused the stones to fly into place. It is an ideal location for
those interested in archeology and snorkeling.
Exploring on your own is complicated by the lack of signage
indicating locations of interest. However, there are numerous
adventures for hikers within the interior where you will find 42
rivers and streams, water falls, rugged mountains with deep valleys
covered with dense rain forest, and a moss-carpeted forest floor.
Driving around the island on 40 miles of paved and 15 miles of
unpaved roads takes about 3½ hours in a four-wheel drive in good
weather. Seven waterfalls throughout the island offer hiking,
swimming, and picnic areas. Three can be accessed without a guide
and are moderately difficult to reach; four can be accessed with a
guide and are considered difficult to reach. Nearest to Kolonia is
Liduduhniap Falls (twin waterfalls), a 10-minute drive, located
about a 15-minute easy walk from the parking area. Near Nan Madol is
Kepirohi Falls, flowing 70 feet from basalt cliffs, with beautiful,
dramatic cascades and a freshwater pool at the base for swimming.
A moderately difficult hike up Sokeh's Mountain offers
breathtaking views of Sokehs Rock and Kolonia Harbor, tropical
vegetation, and birds, as well as two Japanese flak batteries, a
six-inch naval gun, large bomb craters, and a searchlight platform.
Other sites of interest include: Enipein Marine Park; Manta Road;
FSM Capital Complex at Palikir that houses the national government
offices with an interesting mixture of traditional and modern
architecture, and the FSM College campus near Palikir. Historic
sites include the Spanish wall, dating from1887; the rustic18-acre
Pohnpei State Botanical Garden; remnants of the Catholic mission
erected in 1909–14, abandoned Japanese tanks, Pohnpaip Petroglyphs
of a woman with a baby—the birthing stone, and an old German
cemetery. The Kapangamarangi village features woodworking and
weaving handicraft stores.
Four nearby, privately owned islands and atoll are noteworthy. A
favorite activity is spending a rustic weekend on Black Coral
Island. This tiny island just off Pohnpei's coast will provide, for
a small fee, padded mats, a kerosene lamp, and use of a covered,
wooden cottage. Cooking is by campfire, and visitors must bring
food, beverages, and cookware, as there are no stores. Although less
popular, the same applies to Langer Island, which features the ruins
of a Japanese seaplane base. Ant Atoll is 8 miles beyond the reef
and is accurately described by a local writer as "the tropic isle of
romantic novels," a palm-shaded island with white sandy beaches. Ant
is popular for picnicking and camping. All supplies must be brought
with you, as stores and cottages are not available. Last but not
least, Hegs Island (formerly known as Joy Island) is available, off
and on, for picnicking only. Prior permission from the landowners is
For safety and comfort's sake, due to the lack of stores and
facilities, bring food, water, toiletries, a medical kit, sunscreen,
waterproof gear, a radio, and everything you will need for your
Embassy personnel travel frequently to the other states of the
FSM and to Guam. Sydney is the designated R&R post. Bargain fares to
Guam can be obtained on limited off-peak flights.
Entertainment Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Kolonia has one three-screen movie theater but no play houses or
concert halls. Video rentals are a main form of entertainment, and a
few well-stocked DVD and video rental stores are located in Kolonia.
All movie videos are in VHS format. DVD copies are often of poor
quality. A DVD player and VCR are recommended.
Social Activities Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Kolonia's social life exists largely within the foreign community
and consists of casual home dinners, meals at local restaurants, and
shared boating and atoll expeditions. For host-country nationals,
socializing is primarily a family and clan event, and invitations to
Americans are very rare. But a personable American will find that
opportunities arise to become more familiar with the people and
partake of warm, generous Micronesian hospitality.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 7/27/2005 1:53 AM
Receptions and dinners in Kolonia reflect the casual nature of
the society. FSM-hosted events are held in local restaurants.
American personnel entertain in a similar fashion and through casual
home events. Dress for men is slacks and opened-neck shirts. On rare
occasions jacket and tie are worn; business suits are worn only for
presentations of credentials. Women wear a cocktail dress or skirt
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:25 AM
Due to the government's small size and the absence of a large
diplomatic community, social events are infrequent by standards of
other posts and are characterized by a lack of formality. The U.S.
Ambassador and Deputy are expected to attend all social functions.
Spouses generally have the option whether or not to attend events.
Other agency personnel have no representational responsibilities.
Calling cards are not in use, but business cards are needed.
Cards can be locally printed, but print quality does not equal U.S.
standards. A small supply of invitations and informals should be
brought to post.
Special Information Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Security Situation. Violent crime against U.S. Government
employees is rare, and political upheaval is nonexistent in this
democratic nation. Break-ins are a persistent problem on the island;
however, items stolen are usually minor: liquor, food, sport shoes,
videocassettes, etc. The Foreign Service housing has appropriate
building security measures and a guard. The security measures for
other agency personnel depend on the assigned house.
Non-Department of State Personnel should contact Kolonia
employees of their agency for detailed information on living
conditions, since housing and furnishings are spartan and vary from
family to family. The U.S. Embassy will assist in forwarding
inquiries to the appropriate person.
Post Orientation Program
At this small and informal post, orientation is accomplished as
newcomers make the social rounds with other personnel and get to
know the friendly Micronesians and long-term foreigners.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:25 AM
Continental Air Micronesia operates the sole international air
route to Kolonia. Westbound flights depart Honolulu every other day.
These flights cross the international dateline and so land in
Pohnpei on the following calendar day. Personnel normally take the
"island-hopper" from Honolulu to Pohnpei, which departs Honolulu on
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday via Majuro,Kwajalein, and Kosrae
islands and arrives on Pohnpei on the afternoon of the following
day. It is also possible to come via Honolulu, Guam, and Chuuk.
Eastbound flights from Guam depart Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and
Friday via Chuuk to Pohnpei, arriving on the same day. Westbound
flights from mainland U.S. to Pohnpei mandate a night in Honolulu.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
By law, baggage of employees traveling with diplomatic passports
is not inspected. No duties are assessed on household goods or
vehicles of personnel from the American Embassy. Other agency
personnel assigned to the FSM are covered by a separate bilateral
agreement, which waives all customs duty on imports, but baggage may
be inspected. No standards for import of vehicles exist.
Passage Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM
Personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy will be met on arrival and
processed for diplomatic entry permits after arrival. Although
Federal employees assigned to the FSM may enter simply by presenting
travel orders and U.S. Government identification cards, we recommend
that employees and their family members obtain passports. No visa or
entry permit is needed.
Pets Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:26 AM
The importation of dogs or cats into the FSM requires
presentation of an international animal health certificate,
* Animals were examined within 48 hours of shipment, found to be
in good health and showed no sign of any infectious disease;
* Dogs have been effectively vaccinated against distemper,
hepatitis and canine parvovirus at least one month and not more than
three months before shipment or cats have been effectively
vaccinated against Feline Panleucopaenia at least one month and not
more than twelve months before shipment, and Feline Viral
Rhinotracheitis/Calici virus at least one month and not more than
three months before shipment;
* Animals have been effectively treated against
echinococcosis-hydatidosis, round, hook and whipworms within three
days of shipment;
* Animals have been effectively treated against and found on
examination to be visibly free of all ectoparasites within three
days of shipment;
* Animals showed no clinical sign of rabies on the day of
shipment, and were kept from birth for six months prior to shipment
in the exporting country, or a part of the territory of the
exporting country where no case of rabies was officially reported
during the two years immediately preceding the importation of the
* Animals have been vaccinated with an inactivated rabies virus
more than thirty days prior to entry into the FSM; and
* For animals originating from a country or a part of a country
where rabies occurs or is reported to occur or where rabies
vaccination is routinely practiced such animals must undergo a
period of not less than 120 days in an approved quarantine facility
in a rabies free area prior to entry to the FSM, or
* Meet the entry requirements of the State of Hawaii or the
Territory of Guam.
Upon arrival in the FSM, imported dogs or cats shall immediately
be taken under the control of an Inspector to the quarantine
premises previously approved by the Administrator, whereat the
animals shall remain until an Inspector releases them.
If transiting Honolulu, the pet will have to be in quarantine for
the stopover. Pet owners should avoid Guam, which also quarantines
pets, but has no facilities or procedures for caring for them. Other
animals may enter only upon issuance of a quarantine permit. We
recommend that any personnel planning to bring pets consult in
advance with the Mission in case of changes in regulations.
There are no vets permanently stationed on Pohnpei Island, but a
vet will regularly fly to Pohnpei from Guam to perform services.
Owners should bring flea collars, worm medicine, vaccine if needed,
and any other desired accessories.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/30/2005 7:59 PM
Only .22-caliber rifles and shotguns of less than .410 gauge, 18
inches or larger, are permitted to private citizens within the FSM.
Employees wishing to import a firearm must first obtain Mission
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
8/11/2005 11:26 AM
The national currency is the U.S. dollar. Kolonia has branches of
the Bank of Guam and the Bank of FSM, the former with an ATM that
accepts most major cards. Both are FDIC insured. Safe deposit boxes
are available for rent, starting at $30 per year. Weights and
measures follow the U.S. system.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/11/2005
Personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy have full diplomatic tax
exemptions. Other Federal personnel, with the exception of Peace
Corps, are exempt from the income and import/export taxes. Peace
Corps tax provisions are detailed in a separate agreement. Peace
Corps Kolonia can advise arriving personnel of details. No
restrictions are placed on the sale of personal property.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 8/11/2005 11:28 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Ashby, Gene. A Guide to Ponape. Rainy Day Press: Kolonia, Pohnpei,
1983. Comprehensive look at all aspects of life on Pohnpei.
Ashby, Gene (ed.). Micronesian Customs and Beliefs. Rainy Day
Press: Kolonia, Pohnpei, 1983. Folktales and traditions compiled by
students of the Community College of Micronesia.
Hanlon, David. Upon a Stone Altar: A History of the Island of
Pohnpei to 1890, won the 1989 Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize for
ethnohistory. University of Hawaii Press. Author is associate
professor of history at the University of Hawaii.
Hezel, Francis X, Strangers in Their Own Land, University of
Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1995. The definitive study of Micornesia's
colonial period, by the head of Micronesia Seminar, the region's
only think tank.
Kluge, Paul. The Edge of Paradise. University of Hawaii Press:
Honolulu, 1991. Well-written reminiscences of a former Peace Corp
Levy, Neil M. Micronesia Handbook. Avalon Travel Publishing 2000.
Colorcraft Ltd. Comprehensive, well-written guidebook for FSM.
McHenry, Donald. Micronesia: Trust Betrayed. Carnegie Endowment:
Washington, D.C., 1975. Discussion and critique of U.S. policy.
Nevin, David. The American Touch in Micronesia. Norton: New York,
1977. Critique of the American presence, with perceptive
observations on Micronesian society.
"New Pacific Nations." National Geographic Magazine. October
1986. Beautifully photographed survey of the contemporary FSM,
Marshall Islands, and Palau.
Oceania, A Regional Study. Foreign Area Studies series, The
American University. U.S. Government: Washington, D.C., 1984. Basic
facts on all of the Pacific Islands.
Pacific Islands Yearbook. Pacific Publications: Sydney/New York.
An annual survey of the islands. Comprehensive survey, plus good
maps and economic data.
Peattie Mark. Nanyo: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese in
Micronesia, 1885–1945. University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu, 1988. A
Local Holidays Last Updated: 7/27/2005 1:48 AM
In addition to U.S. observances, the Mission will close on the
following FSM holidays in 2001: New Year's Day January*** Martin
Luther King's Birthday January* President's Day February* Pohnpei
Cultural Day March** Good Friday March/April** Constitution Day
May** Memorial Day May*
Independence Day July* Labor Day September* Pohnpei Liberation
Day September** Columbus Day October* Uninted Nations Day October**
Independence Day November** Veteran's Day November*** Thanksgiving
November* Christmas Day December***
* U.S **FSM ***U.S./FSM