An Undersea Odyssey To Magnificent
Micronesia. The very word evokes images of the remote, the unspoiled; of lush, green islands sprinkled across the cobalt blue of the almost endless Pacific Ocean. More than 2,000 islands, in a 3,000,000 square mile area roughly between Hawaii, Philippines and Papua New Guinea, makeup this oceanic region named for its indigenous people, the seafaring Micronesians.
The many islands, whether low coral atolls or high volcanic islands, are rich with life and some of the world's most arresting examples of nature's bounty and artistry. Rich soils, plentiful rainfall and brilliant, year-round tropical sunlight have com-bined to nurture a variety of different plant and animal species that compete for space and life in a dazzling natural display.
In the clear, shallow waters along the shorelines, life be-comes even more prolific, seeming to explode in a wild mix of colors and shapes. There are simply more different marine species here than are found in most any other area on earth. More than 300 species of corals create vast gardens that are home to some of the world's most beau-tiful, exotic and unusual aquatic animals.
While descriptions of Micronesia could stop here, this incredible natural back-drop is also a fitting stage for a fascinating cultural and historical experience that links present and past, tradition and change. It's a region where grass skirts,
woven palm and shell oceanic maps and tribal chiefs are stilt commonplace. Here, the ravages of World War II still lie just beneath the surface of a jungle canopy, a quiet lagoon or the memory of a sun-weathered local villager. Yet, it's a place where U.S. currency. electricity and telephone systems tie it directly to the fast moving, modern world.
The challenge of writing about Micronesia is much the same as experiencing it-it is so vast, so diverse and so exquisitely interesting that it's almost impossible to know where to begin. At the same time, there's a real comfort in knowing it really doesn't matter-for any Micronesia experience has the power to intrigue and delight, to fascinate and enthrall.