by Alexander Somoza
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of the four States of Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Yap. It is situated in the western Pacific Ocean and comprises some 600 islands, spread 2,900 kilometers across the Caroline Islands' archipelago. Having been part of the United States American Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) from 1947 on, the country gradually accomplished independence, to achieve it fully in 1990. Since the establishment of the FSM as a self-governing entity in 1979, the country has held various referendums as well as regular general elections and has had frequent government changes.
Since the 1870s, Micronesia experienced the rule of various successive colonial powers. Originally claimed by the Spaniards, it was eventually sold to Germany in 1899, before being occupied by the Japanese in 1914. After World War II, the United Nations set up the US-administered TTPI in 1947, which included the districts of Chuuk, Pohnpei, Yap, Palau, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Marshall Islands. The first three were later to become the FSM, together with Kosrae (a district part of Pohnpei until 1977). The President of the United States appointed a High Commissioner to govern the Trust Territory.
From the mid-1950s on, the Trust Territory administration began to establish legislative advisory organs in each district. Eventually, elections were organized for these local legislatures, as in 1957 in Chuuk, in 1958 in Pohnpei and in 1959 in Yap. But it was only in 1965, after the criticism of the United Nations, that the Congress of Micronesia was established, becoming the first legislative organ for the whole Trust Territory. It was a bicameral legislature with representatives from the six districts of Micronesia. Its initial function was to serve as an advisory body, but it later assumed also legislative duties. Until its dissolution in 1978, the Trust Territory had held a total of eight elections.