Caroline Islands

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Caroline Islands,

archipelago, c.830 sq mi (2,150 sq km), W Pacific, just north of the equator. The largest islands are PalauPalau
, officially Republic of Palau, independent nation (2005 est. pop. 20,300), c.192 sq mi (497 sq km), W Pacific, in the W Caroline Islands. Belau, the indigenous name for Palau, is sometimes used.
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 (Belau), YapYap
, state (1990 pop. 10,886), c.47 sq mi (121 sq km), in the W Caroline Islands, W Pacific. One of four states comprising the Federated States of Micronesia, the island group was formerly part of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
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, ChuukChuuk
or Truk
, state (1990 est. pop. 48,853), c.39 sq mi (100 sq km), Federated States of Micronesia, W Pacific, in the E Caroline Islands. One of four states comprising the Federated States of Micronesia, Chuuk consists of c.
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 (Truk), PohnpeiPohnpei
, state and island (1991 est. pop. 52,000), 129 sq mi (334 sq km), W Pacific, in the E Caroline Islands. It is one of four states comprising the Federated States of Micronesia.
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 (Ponape), and Kosrae. The islands are fertile and rich in minerals. There are deposits of phosphate, guano, bauxite, and iron; coconuts, sugarcane, and tapioca are produced. The chief exports are dried bonito, copra, and tapioca. Most of the inhabitants are Micronesian, but in the eastern islands there are some Polynesians. There is evidence of Chinese contact with the western islands in the 7th cent. A.D. The first Europeans to visit the Carolines were the Spanish in 1526, but the islands did not come under Spain's control until 1886. After the Spanish-American War the islands were sold (1899) to Germany. They were occupied in 1914 by the Japanese, who in 1920 were given a League of Nations mandate over them. Annexed to Japan in 1935, the islands were heavily bombed prior to American occupation during World War II. The Carolines were placed under U.S. administration by the United Nations in 1947, becoming part of the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific IslandsPacific Islands, Trust Territory of the,
former UN trust territory administered by the United States, consisting of the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, and Mariana Islands (excluding Guam). The territory included c.
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. The islands are now divided between two separate political entities: the Federated States of MicronesiaMicronesia, Federated States of,
independent nation (2005 est. pop. 108,000), c.271 sq mi (702 sq km), an island group in the W Pacific Ocean. It comprises four states: Kosrae, Pohnpei (formerly Ponape), Chuuk (formerly Truk), and Yap.
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, which became independent in 1986, and Palau, which became independent in 1994; both nations have compacts of free association with the United States.

Caroline Islands

 

an archipelago in the western part of the Pacific Ocean in Micronesia, named for the queen of the Spanish king Charles II. It is now a United Nations trust territory, under the administration of the United States since 1947. It consists of 936 individual islands or clusters of volcanic islands and atolls situated between 1° and 10°N lat. and 131° and 163° E long. The islands themselves have a total land area of 1, 320 sq km. The major groups and islands include the Palau group (Babelthuap Island, 397 sq km) and Yap (100 sq km) in the west and the Senyavin group (Ponape Island, 334 sq km), Truk (100 sq km), and Kusaie (110 sq km) in the east.

All of the larger islands (maximum altitude, 791 m) are volcanic in origin and are ringed with coral reefs. The islands of the western group are part of an arching group of islands on a ridge that is rising slowly but steadily; those of the eastern group rise directly from the ocean floor. There are deposits of organic phosphates. The climate is equatorial or subequatorial. Precipitation ranges from 2, 250 mm to 3, 000–4, 500 mm and even 6, 000 mm (in the mountains of Kusaie Island) a year. The Carolines lie in a region where an average of 25 typhoons form annually. Such storms take place at all times of the year but are most common from July to November, with a maximum in September. The volcanic islands have tropical evergreen forests of screw pines. On the mountain slopes are evergreen rain forests with tree-ferns, and bamboo at the upper borders. The drier slopes are covered with savannas. On the coral islands, coconut palms and screw pines predominate.

The native population of the Carolines consists of small ethnic groups of Micronesians, speaking various languages of the Malay-Polynesian family. Altogether, they number about 67, 000 (1969, estimate). The larger groups include Truk Islanders (26, 000) on Truk, Nomoi, and other islands; Ponapeans (15, 000) on Ponape, Pingelap, and other islands; and Palauans (12, 000) on Palau. Most of the islanders are Christians (Catholic and Protestant). English is the official language. The major occupations of the population are agriculture (coconut palm, sugarcane, taro, sweet potato), fishing, and livestock breeding.

The islands were discovered in 1528 by the Spanish navigatorSaavedra. Some of them were explored by the Russian F. P.Litke in 1828.