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Neil Schwanitz | profile | all galleries >> Pohnpei tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Pohnpei

The island of Pohnpei (6.97N 158.22E) lies about 2,000 miles east of the Philipines in the recently formed country of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM in the East Caroline Islands).

Pohnpei is a "high" volcanic island, having a rugged, mountainous interior with some peaks as high as 2600 feet. It measures about thirteen miles across and is roughly circular in shape. A coral reef surrounds the island, forming a protected lagoon. There are no beaches on Pohnpei -- the coast is surrounded by mangrove swamps. Several smaller islets and atolls, many of them inhabited, lie nearby and are included in the State of Pohnpei.

More than 30,000 people live on Pohnpei, although nearly a fourth of these are immigrants from other nearby islands or foreigners (mostly U.S.) working on the island. English is almost universally understood, although Pohnpeian is more commonly used between native residents. The main town on the island is Kolonia, on the north side.

The most prominent feature on Pohnpei is probably Sokehs Rock. This huge volcanic plug is only one-fourth as high as some of the interior mountains, but its position looming over Kolonia harbor makes it a dramatic sight. Although it looks forbidding, you can actually climb up the back side quite easily, and the view from the top is one of the best on the island!

Another of Pohnpei's most well-known natural monuments is Pwisehn Malek. It's a jagged basalt cone thrusting out of the grassy hill-lands of Sokehs. Much to the discomfort of the island's tourist commission (which usually attempts to translate Pohnpeian place-names into English), but to the great amusement of the rest of us, Pwisehn Malek literally means Chicken Shit. As one might expect, there's an interesting story behind the interesting name. Allegedly, the strange rock formation near the Sokehs and Kitti border was created when a messenger of ancient Nan Madol transformed himself into a chicken and flew across the island to deliver a message, depositing a large pile of droppings in the process. Interestingly, some people believe Pwisehn Malek to be one of the quarry sites for the stones of Nan Madol.
Kolonia Harbor
Kolonia Harbor
The Village hotel
The Village hotel
One of many waterfalls
One of many waterfalls
Nan Madol ruins
Nan Madol ruins
Nan Madol ruins
Nan Madol ruins
Sokehs rock
Sokehs rock
Black Coral Island
Black Coral Island
Black Coral Island
Black Coral Island
German church
German church
Sakau - a local drink
Sakau - a local drink