Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia

Chuuk State (rhymes with look, also known as Truk, a corruption of Ruk) is one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The other states are Kosrae , Pohnpei  and Yap . The islands of the FSM are the result of volcanic activity millions of years ago resulting in islands and atolls of incredible variety. Some are tips of mountain peaks thrust above the surface and now surrounded by fringing reefs. Others are atolls – islands that have sunk beneath the surface, leaving a ring of coral barrier reef and tiny island islets encircling a coral and sand lagoon. And, still others, are mixtures of atolls and high rigged islands within a lagoon. While the country’s total land area amounts to only 270.8 square miles, it occupies more than one million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, and ranges 1,700 miles from West (Yap) to East (Kosrae).  The people of the FSM are culturally and linguistically Micronesian, though a variety of languages are spoken.  Chuuk is located about 590 miles southeast of Guam and 3372 miles southwest of Hawaii. Chuuk consists of 11 mangrove-fringed islands in the Chuuk lagoon, still called the Truk lagoon, with a series of 14 outlying atolls and low islands surrounding the lagoon.  The people speak Chuukese.  The FSM negotiated a Compact of Free Association with the United States which provides important services to it.  Enclosed by a 225 km. long barrier reef, the lagoon covers an area of 822 square mi. and is one of the world’s largest enclosed lagoons. During WW II the Japanese Imperial fleet was quartered inside the lagoon and on February 16, 1944, the US staged a surprise attack on it, hitting more than 60 Japanese vessels over two days and one night.  The lagoon and those sunken vessels make Chuuk the world’s premier wreck dive location.

We had a half day visit to Chuuk and unfortunately it poured rain most of the time, making it seem like the lagoon had overtaken the town.  The roads were pretty bad and slippery as they were not all paved, so we did not want to risk going out of town on a local taxi to see sights such as a Japanese lighthouse.  I believe that some people did go out to dive but it was not a day for swimming. Road repairs and traffic created by our visit resulted in a massive traffic jam in town.  We walked around dodging the giant puddles and spoke to many of the local people who are extremely friendly.  I leave you with some photos, all of which were taken during the downpour and are not of great quality.  Our next port is Guam.


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