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a group of related peoples, including the Trukese and Ponapeans of the Caroline Islands, the Chamorros of the Mariana Islands, the Marshallese, and the Nauruans. Numbering more than 200,000 persons (1970, estimate), they constitute the basic population of Micronesia. In addition, some 4,000 Micronesians live in Melanesia. Anthropologically, Micronesians represent a mixture of Melanesians, Polynesians, and Indonesians. Cultural affinities also link the Micronesians with these peoples; the culture of western Micronesia is more akin to that of Indonesia, and eastern Micronesia’s culture is closer to that of Polynesia. Micronesians speak languages of the Malayo-Polynesian language family. They are Christians, mainly Protestants, but retain many traditional beliefs.
The principal occupations are fishing and the growing of fruit trees, mainly coconut palms. Agriculture is poorly developed, especially on the small atolls. Before the invasion by the colonialists in the 16th and 17th centuries, land was controlled by the clan aristocracy. On certain islands class relations had been evolving. Trade was well developed, with shells and stone disks (on Yap) serving as money. The rule of the colonialists caused a sharp decline in the Micronesian population. As early as the 17th century the indigenous population in the Mariana Islands was almost completely exterminated, and those who survived intermarried with later immigrants. The Micronesians are struggling for national liberation. In 1968 the island of Nauru became an independent state.
REFERENCESNarody Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1956.
Puchkov, P. I. Naselenie Okeanii. Moscow, 1967.
Coulter, J. W. The Pacific Dependencies of the United States. New York,
D. D. TUMARKIN