Micronesia: Background information when reading The People in the Trees

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The People in the Trees

A Novel

by Hanya Yanagihara

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2013, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2014, 496 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Amodini Sharma

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Micronesia

Print Review

In The People of The Trees, Perina and Tallent journey to the fictional Micronesian states of U'ivu and Ivu'ivu. While these particular islands are fictitious, the region of Micronesia, literally "small island" in Greek is composed of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean, north of Australia.

Micronesia

From 1947, most of the nearly 2,500 islands that make up Micronesia were administered by the United States as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1986, the Trust Territory was dissolved into four constitutional governments: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Belau (Palau), the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. All four have continuing political and economic relationships with the United States. As do the other key islands or island groups in Micronesia: Kiribati, Guam, Nauru and Wake Island.

The Micronesian region, made up of volcanic and coral islands, is shaped like a parallelogram with its corners formed by the Republic of Belau in the southwest; Kiribati in the southeast; Guam in the northwest; and the Marshall Islands in the northeast (see map above). At 225 square miles, the US territory of Guam is the largest island in Micronesia, home to over 180,000 people. The Republic of Nauru is one of the smallest countries in the world, with a total area of nine square miles. While Micronesia refers to the region as a whole, it is not to be confused with the Federated States of Micronesia which is an independent sovereign nation formed around the Caroline Islands archipelago with its capital at Palikir (see map below).

The Federated States of Micronesia

The people of Micronesia are a mixture of Melanesians (Greek: "black island"), Polynesians (Greek : "many islands") and Filipinos.

Micronesian Island Traditional foods include starchy vegetables such as taro root and yams; fish and shellfish. The islands also tend to have plentiful fruits including banana, coconut, papaya, mango, breadfruit and citrus.

As do most other cultures around the world, the Micronesians mark events like births, deaths, adolescence and marriages with traditional celebrations. For example, a hair-cutting ceremony marks male puberty on the Micronesian island of Yap.

Map of Micronesia from Wikipedia
Map of Federated States of Micronesia from cia.gov
Picture of Micronesian island from Touristdestinations.com

Article by Amodini Sharma

This article was originally published in September 2013, and has been updated for the May 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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