United States Associated Pacific Basin Territories (USAPBT)
The United States Associated Pacific Basin Territories (USAPBT) consist of six island jurisdictions. Three — Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa — which are considered U.S. flag territories. The other three jurisdictions — Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Republic of Palau (Palau)—are independent countries but are freely associated with the United States, meaning they are politically independent but each has signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States establishing specific rights and responsibilities. These latter three territories are collectively known as the Freely Associated States or FAS.
In 1947, the United States entered into a trusteeship with the United Nations and became the administering authority of the FSM,10 the Marshall Islands, and Palau. The four states of the FSM voted in 1978 to become an independent nation, and the Marshall Islands established a constitutional government and declared itself a republic in 1979. Both the FSM and the Marshall Islands remained subject to the authority of the United States under the trusteeship agreement until 1986, when a Compact of Free Association went into effect between the United States and the two nations. In 1994, Palau also entered a Compact of Free Association with the United States and became a sovereign state.
Under the compacts, the United States provided economic assistance, and access to certain federal services and programs, among other things. Also under the compacts, the United States has a responsibility for the defense of the FAS, and the compacts provide the United States with exclusive military use rights in these countries.
Guam is Micronesia’s largest and most populous island and is the southernmost island. Guam has a total land area of 210 square miles and is 30 miles long and 9 miles wide. According to the 2000 Census, Guam’s population is approximately 155,000. The indigenous Chamorro population comprise approximately 50 percent of the population, followed by Filipino (25.0 percent), White (8.9 percent), and African American (1.1 percent). Approximately 31 percent of the residents are under age 20.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) consists of about 14 islands with a total land area of approximately 477 square kilometers, which is approximately 2.5 times the size of Washington, D.C. Approximately 21 percent of the population is Chamorro and 4.0 percent Carolinian, 56.0 percent Asian, and 2.0 percent White. About 90 percent of the population speak a language other than English at home.
American Samoa is in the South Pacific Ocean, approximately half-way between Hawaii and New Zealand. It is approximately a five hour plane ride from Hawaii to American Samoa. The total land area is approximately 77 square miles (199 square kilometers), which is slightly larger than Washington, DC. Tutuila is the large island, covering approximately 55 square miles. Of this population (2000 Census), approximately 88.2 percent are Samoan and the remaining population includes Tongan, White, Filipino, and other Asian. Approximately 58.3 percent of all families in America Samoa are below the poverty level.
The Federated States of Micronesia is unique in that it has 607 islands, of which there are four constituent island groups, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. The four islands fall into three different time zones, as displayed below. These islands cover approximately 270 square miles (702 sq kilometers) and the population is comprised of nine ethnic Micronesian and Polynesian groups.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands land area covers approximately 70 square miles (181 square kilometers), scattered over 500,000 square miles of the Western Pacific. Approximately 90 percent of the population is Marshallese. Two-thirds of the population live in Majuro and Ebeye.
The Republic of Palau is approximately 190 square miles (458 square kilometers) in eight main islands plus more than 250 islets. Population is less than 20,000 and the racial/ethnic composition is primarily Micronesian. It is the furthermost jurisdiction—less than 500 miles from the Philippines—and is a 16-hour plane trip to Hawaii. Only eight islands are inhabited and approximately 70 percent of the Palauan population lives in the capital city of Koror on Koror Island. About 40 percent of the residents are under the age of 20 years, and 73 percent of the total population is below the poverty level.
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