People And The Language

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The people of Ulithi are proud, kind, and shy. Nearly all speak English and the literacy rate in Micronesia is over 90%. Crime and hard drugs are virtually non-existent and the traditions and customs are generally built upon “keeping the peace”. Inhabitants are strongly independent and rightfully proud of their history and unique place in the world. Ulithian is the name of the language spoken on Ulithi atoll and neighboring islands. Ulithian is one of the 6 official languages of the Federated States of Micronesia. There are some 3,000 speakers, although only 700 of these live on Ulithi atoll.

What may seem like ancient history to most of us is alive and well on the atoll. The United States and Micronesia have what is called the “Compact of Free Association” that allows citizens from each country to visit and work without visas. Many Micronesians join the Armed Forces and they remain highly patriotic. They purposely strive to maintain their traditional culture and this culture remains one of the most intact.

Micronesia has adopted an identical political structure as the U.S. but added a “Chief Branch” that is responsible for ensuring that tradition and customs are adhered to. They are fiercely independent and proud of their heritage. Local customs are strongly adhered to and visitors are advised to respect them. Western clothing is not allowed on Mog Mog, the high Chief Island and women are not allowed to show their thighs at any time. There are no guns, virtually no violence, and any crime is met with severe punishment from the community. It is an incredibly interesting place and worthy of respect and admiration.

Yap State is a clan based society, where certain clans hold traditional rights over other clans. From the farthest reaches of the Outer Islands, tradition holds that the clans were a way of ensuring the safety of traders and travelers as moved from island to island.