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ASPECTS OF MICRONESIA

         

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A wrecked Japanese plane on a palm-fringed Isle recalls the nightmare of World War 2. So much debris littered Micronesia that scrap metal has provided the territory's second most valuable export, after copra. 

Saipan has war memorials that do draw tourists. One of these is the American tank above with only its turret gun breaching the water at high tide, still aiming at the Japanese shore defences that knocked out the tank when US forces landed on Saipan, June 15th, 1944.

Sails set high at sunrise, the people of Satawal Island leave for tuna fishing grounds beyond the horizon. These residents of small atolls between Yap and Truk (Chuuk) voyaged hundreds of miles in outriggers made from breadfruit planks. Such craft brought the ancestors of today's Micronesians, who inhabit 96 of 2,100 islands and atolls covering  three million square miles of ocean.

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Youngsters play in a Koror storage yard. These giant
 clam shells have been exported for sale to shell and curio collectors.
 
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With snorkel, mask and flippers, a diver invades the magical realm of a coral reef.
 His prize: a parrotfish, speared with a sharpened concrete-reinforcing rod.

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Men of Porakiet skin and clean the vicious moray eels before roasting them slowly over glowing coals. Their women will add yams, rice, and a pudding of pounded taro and shredded coconuts to the banquet.

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A family peers from its one-room shack
as a tropical downpour drums on the metal roof.

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Left: Koror's community centre displays rows of trophies from head hunting days.
Right: A Catholic Priest visits his chapel on Ifalik Atoll.

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The haunting ruins of Nan Madol pose a riddle for archaeologists. Built on Ponape (Pohnpei) of rock "logs" - huge crystals of basalt found on the island - such enclosures spread over a hundred islets that fill a swampy lagoon. Local legend hints that the structure's owners were tyrants who exacted tribute from the islanders. But no one knows for certain who erected the complexes, or when. An early expedition of the Smithsonian Institute explored Nan Madol in 1963 and carbon dated charcoal that proved to be about 700 years old.

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About ten thousand highly prized stone disks dot the island of Yap. Yapese bestow the heavy stones to honour individuals or villages, but seldom take the trouble to move them to new locations.

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The above two images are of the champion fishermen of Ponape (Pohnpei), villagers of Porakiet reap a bounty from the sea. Boatmen cast a net over shallows for tiny fish. Their catch will bait hooks on hand lines lowered into deep water beyond the island's barrier reef. Village men form a circle about a mile in circumference and drive fish toward a V-shaped net, skewering those that try to escape.  

On the grounds of the Ponape (Pohnpei) agricultural development station,
superior-quality coconuts take roots to serve as replanting stock.

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A trading vessel delivers manufactured goods and takes on copra and handicrafts at Elato Atoll.
Once a month the trading vessel calls at every inhabited island group of the Yap district.

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High School troupes perform in a spirited
stick dance - part of the heritage of Micronesia.

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Left: Males of Atelu village, Yap, relax in the village "all men house". When the kerosene lantern is turned down, they will curl up on the floor and gossip quietly into the night. Right: Small child dressed in traditional garb represents the future of Micronesia.

Micronesia Postcards and Picture Galleries

Oceania Postcards and Picture Galleries

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Jane Resture
(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 20th September 2010)