What makes Micronesia a unique country to travel to?
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is composed of over 600 islands and atolls spanning one million square miles of the western Pacific Ocean. The FSM isa federation of four semi-autonomous states (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap), each of which retains considerable autonomy overdomestic affairs, including state civil and criminal justice systems. The federal capital is located at Palikir, on the island of Pohnpei, close to Pohnpei’s largest town, Kolonia. The FSM is a constitutional democracy. The United States extends security guarantees and economic assistance to the FSM under the Compact of Free Association. Under the Compact, FSM citizens may enter the U.S. to study and work without visas.
Throughout the country, foreigners have reportedly been subjected to and singled out for theft and verbal and physical abuse. Alcohol- and drug-related attacks, as well as drunk driving accidents, are a particular concern during weekend and evening hours. The Embassy encourages extra caution during the holidays, when alcohol consumption is especially high. Do not attempt to intervene in disputes between local citizens.
Dress conservatively: it is considered impolite for females to wear clothing that exposes anything above the knee. Modern swimwear may be considered immodest by local standards, and people wearing such clothing outside of hotels that cater to tourists could likely be harassed. Additionally, we suggest women travel in groups and walk in well-lit areas.
Crime rates are higher in Chuuk than in the other states; you should exercise extreme caution at all times, stay off the streets after dark, and ensure that the hotel where you are staying is prepared to assist you in an emergency.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the counterfeit items illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
While you are traveling in the FSM, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from those in the U.S. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not where you are going. Criminal penalties will also vary from country to country.
If you break local laws in the FSM, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. If you violate FSM laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
In the FSM, for example, driving under the influence could land you in jail immediately. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the FSM are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
There are also things that might be legal in the FSM you but illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States with severe penalties.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case in the FSM. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and/or prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Health care facilities in the FSM consist of state-run hospitals on each of the four major islands and a few scattered clinics. These facilities often lack basic supplies and medicines, and the quality of health care is very low. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services. Medical evacuation for non-ambulatory patients may not be immediately available and can be mexpensive. Scuba divers should note that although there are decompression chambers in Yap, Chuuk, and Pohnpei, their availability and staff experience in treating diving injuries vary considerably.
Safety and Security
Always maintain a high level of security, be alert to any unusual activity around your home or business, and report any suspicious incidents to local police authorities.
Unexploded ordnance remains from the heavy fighting and bombardment that took place in and around the islands of Micronesia during World War II. Exercise caution when you travel or dive in the region, especially in Yap harbor and in Chuuk lagoon. It is illegal, as well as dangerous, to remove “souvenirs” from sunken WWII vessels and aircraft.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in FSM, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Most roads in the FSM are in terrible condition. Though rare, when traffic accidents do happen, they often result in fatalities. The information below concerning the FSM is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Speed limits throughout the FSM are very low: 20 miles per hour (mph) in most places; 15 mph in school zones when children are present. However, the “normal” driving speed is considerably lower; it is not uncommon for drivers to drive at 5 to 10 mph, even when there is no traffic.
Driving is on the right-hand side of the road, as in the United States. However, the majority of vehicles in FSM are right-hand drive vehicles imported from Japan; they are not designed to operate on the FSM road network. Drivers in these vehicles do not have an optimum field of vision, which can interfere with driving manoeuvres and the driver's ability to establish visual contact with other road users.
Most roads are narrow and without sidewalks, creating hazards for both drivers and the FSM’s numerous pedestrians. Most roads are in very poor condition, with potholes and little or no shoulder to pull to the side. Roads outside towns are mostly unpaved. All roads are used simultaneously by pedestrians, playing children, animals, and vehicles. Road conditions can worsen significantly after heavy rains, which occur frequently.
There is no formal training in road safety or driving, so many drivers are mof road safety rules. Drivers often make sudden turns or stop without warning to chat with or pick up pedestrians. Taxis are available in state capitals, but you should always be careful since many taxi drivers are reckless. Drunk drivers can create serious hazards, particularly on weekend evenings and holidays. Motorcyclists are required by law to wear helmets, though this is rarely enforced. If you intend to be a resident to the FSM, you should acquire a local driver’s license with the State Police. In most cases, the police will issue a local license to anyone who presents a U.S. driver’s license. If you will be in the FSM temporarily, a U.S. driver’s license itself is sufficient to rent a car and drive for the duration of your visit.