Thursday 30 May 2019


Russian music includes a variety of styles: from ritual folk song, to the sacred music of the Russian orthodox church, and also included the legacy of several prominent 19th century classical and romantic composers. Major contributions by 20th century Soviet composers as well as various forms of popular music are also part of the make-up of Russian music.

18th and 19th century: Russian Classical music

Russia has a history of classical music innovation. In the 18th century, Peter I brought in reforms introducing western music fashions to Russia. During the subsequent reign of Empresses Elisabeth and Catherine, the Russian imperial court attracted many prominent musicians, many from Italy. They brought with them Italian traditions of opera and classical music in general, to inspire future generations of Russian composers. A number of composers received training in Italy or from these recent Italian emigres and composed vocal and instrumental works in the Italian Classical tradition popular in the day. These include composers Dmitri Bortniansky, Maksim Berezovsky and Artem Vedel who not only composed masterpieces of choral music but also included operas, chambers works and symphonic works. The first great Russian composer to exploit native Russian music traditions into the realm of Secular music was Mikhail Glinka (1804–1857), who composed the early Russian language operas Ivan Susanin and Ruslan and Lyudmila. They were neither the first operas in the Russian language nor the first by a Russian, but they gained fame for relying on distinctively Russian tunes and themes and being in the venacular. Russian folk music became the primary source for the younger generation composers. A group that called itself "Mighty Five", headed by Balakirev (1837–1910) and including (Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908), Mussorgsky (1839–81), Borodin (1833–87) and César Cui (1835–1918), proclaimed its purpose to compose and popularize Russian national traditions in classical music. Among the Mighty Five's most notable compositions were the operas The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka), Sadko, Boris Godunov, Prince Igor, Khovanshchina, and symphonic suite Scheherazade. Many of the works by Glinka and the Mighty Five were based on Russian history, folk tales and literature, and are regarded as masterpieces of romantic nationalism in music. This period also saw the foundation of the Russian Musical Society (RMS) in 1859, led by composer-pianists Anton (1829–94) and Nikolay Rubinstein (1835–81). The Mighty Five was often presented as the Russian Music Society's rival, with the Five embracing their Russian national identity and the RMS being musically more conservative. However the RMS founded Russia's first Conservatories in St Petersburg and in Moscow: the former trained the great Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–93), best known for ballets like Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. He remains Russia's best-known composer outside Russia. Easily the most famous successor in his style is Sergey Rakhmaninov (1873–1943), who studied at the Moscow Conservatory (where Tchaikovsky himself taught). The late 19th and early 20th century saw the third wave of Russian classics: Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971), Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915), Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953) and Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975). They were experimental in style and musical language. Some of them emigrated after Russian revolution, though Prokofiev eventually returned and contributed to Soviet music as well. In the late 19th to early 20th centuries, the so-called "romance songs" became very popular. The greatest and most popular singers of the "romances" usually sang in operas at the same time. The most popular was Fyodor Shalyapin. Singers usually composed music and wrote the lyrics, as did Alexander Vertinsky, Konstantin Sokolsky, Pyotr Leshchenko.

20th century: Soviet music

After the Russian Revolution, Russian music changed dramatically. The early 1920s were the era of avant-garde experiments, inspired by the "revolutionary spirit" of the era. New trends in music (like music based on synthetic chords) were proposed by enthusiastic clubs such as Association for Contemporary Music. In the 1930s, under the regime of Joseph Stalin, music was forced to be contained within certain boundaries of content and innovation. Classicism was favoured, and experimentation discouraged.(A notable example: Shostakovich's veristic opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District was denounced in Pravda newspaper as "formalism" and soon removed from theatres for years). The music patriarchs of the era were Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Aram Khachaturian. With time, a wave of younger Soviet composers, such as Georgy Sviridov and Alfred Schnittke, took the forefront due to the rigorous Soviet education system. The Union of Soviet Composers was established in 1932 and became the major regulatory body for Russian music. Jazz was introduced to Soviet audiences by Valentin Parnakh in the 1920s. Singer Leonid Uteosov and film score composer Isaak Dunayevsky helped its popularity, especially with the popular comedy movie Jolly Fellows that featured a jazz soundtrack. Eddie Rosner, Oleg Lundstrem and others contributed to soviet jazz music.

Film soundtracks produced a significant part of popular Soviet/Russian songs of the time, as well as of orchestral and experimental music. The 1930s saw Prokofiev's scores for Sergei Eisenstein's epic movies, and also soundtracks by Isaak Dunayevsky that ranged from classical pieces to popular jazz, Among the pioneers of Soviet electronica, was 1970s ambient composer Eduard Artemiev, best known for his scores to Tarkovsky's science fiction films. The 1960s and 1970s saw the beginning of modern Russian pop and rock music. It started with the wave of VIA's (vocal-instrumental ensemble), a specific sort of music bands performing radio-friendly pop, rock and folk, composed by members of the Union of Composers and approved by censorship. This wave begun with Pojuschie Gitary and Pesnyary; popular VIA bands also included Tcvety, Zemlyane and Verasy. That period of music also saw individual pop stars such as Valery Leontiev, Sofia Rotaru, Alla Pugacheva, Yuri Antonov. Many of them remain popular to this day. They were the mainstream of Soviet music media, headliners of festivals such as Song of the Year, Sopot, and Golden Orpheus. The year 1977 saw also establishment of Moskovsky Komsomolets hit parade, the Russia's first music chart.

Music publishing and promotion in Soviet Union was a state monopoly. To earn money and fame from their talent, Soviet musicians had to assign to state-owned label Melodia. This meant to accept certain boundaries of experimentation, that is, the family-friendly performance and politically neutral lyrics favoured by censors. Meanwhile, with the arrival of new sound recording technologies, it became possible for common fans to record and exchange their music via magnetic tape recorders. This helped underground music subculture (such as bard and rock music) to flourish despite being ignored by the state-owned media.[6] "Bardic" or "authors' song" is an umbrella term for the singers-songwriters movement that arose at the early 1960s. It can be compared to the American folk revival movement of the 60s, with their simple single-guitar arrangements and poetical lyrics. Initially ignored by the state media, bards like Vladimir Vysotsky, Bulat Okudzhava, Alexander Galich gained so much popularity that they finished being distributed by the state owned Melodiya record company. The largest festival of bard music is Grushinsky festival, held annually since 1968. Rock music came to Soviet Russia in the late 1960s with Beatlemania, and many rock bands arose during late 1970s: Mashina Vremeni, Aquarium, Autograph. Unlike the VIAs, these bands were not allowed to publish their music and remained in underground. The "golden age" of Russian rock is widely considered to have been the 1980s. Censorship mitigated, rock clubs opened in Leningrad and Moscow, and soon rock became mainstream Popular bands of that time include Kino, Alisa, Aria, DDT, Nautilus Pompilius, and Grazhdanskaya Oborona. New wave and post punk were the trend in 80s Russian rock.

21st century: Modern Russian music

Russian pop music is well developed, and enjoys mainstream success via pop music media such as MTV Russia, Muz TV and various radio stations. A number of pop artists have broken through in recent years. The Russian duet t.A.T.u is the most successful Russian pop band of its time. They have reached number one in many countries around the world, with several of their singles and albums. Other popular artists include the Eurovision 2008 winner Dima Bilan, as well as Philipp Kirkorov, Vitas and Alsou. Music producers like Igor Krutoy, Maxim Fadeev, Ivan Shapovalov, Igor Matvienko, and Konstantin Meladze control a major share of Russia's pop music market, in some ways continuing the Soviet style of artist management. The rock music scene has gradually evolved from the united movement into several different subgenres similar to those found in the West. There's youth pop rock and alternative rock (Mumiy Troll, Zemfira, Splean, Bi-2, Zveri). There's punk rock, ska and grunge (Korol i Shut, Pilot, Leningrad, Distemper, Elisium). The heavy metal scene has grown substantially, with new bands playing Power and Progressive Metal (Catharsis, Epidemia, Shadow Host, Mechanical Poet), and Pagan Metal (Arkona, Butterfly Temple, Temnozor). Rock music media has become prevalent in modern Russia. The most notable is Nashe Radio, which is promoting classic rock and pop punk. Its Chart Dozen is the main rock chart in Russia, and its Nashestvie rock festival attracts around 100,000 fans annually and was dubbed "Russian Woodstock" by the media. Others include A-One TV channel, specializing in alternative music and hardcore. It has promoted bands like Amatory, Tracktor Bowling and Slot, and awarded many of them with its Russian Alternative Music Prize. Radio Maximum broadcasts both Russian and western modern pop and rock as well. Other types of music include folk rock (Melnitsa), trip hop (Linda) and reggae (Jah Division). Hip Hop/Rap is represented by Bad Balance, Kasta, Ligalize and Mnogotochie. There's also an experimental rapcore scene headlined by Dolphin and Kirpichi. A specific, exclusively Russian kind of music has emerged, that mixes criminal songs, bard and romance music. It is labelled "Russian chanson" (a neologism popularized by its main promoter, Radio Chanson). Its main artists include Mikhail Krug, Mikhail Shufutinsky, and Alexander Rosenbaum. With lyrics about daily life and society, and frequent romanticisation of the criminal underworld, chanson is especially popular among adult males of the lower social class. Electronic music in modern Russia is underdeveloped in comparison to other genres. This is largely due to a lack of promotion. There are some independent underground acts performing IDM, downtempo, house, trance and dark psytrance (including tracker music scene), and broadcasting their work via internet radio. They include Parasense, Fungus Funk, Kindzadza, Lesnikov-16, Yolochnye Igrushki and Messer Für Frau Müller. Of the few artists that broke through to the mainstream media, there are PPK and DJ Groove, that exploit Soviet movie soundtracks for their dance remixes.

From: Music of Russia

•culled from

Friday 24 May 2019

What Languages Are Spoken In Nauru?

Nauruan, a language that is spoken by about 96% ethnic Nauruans, is the official language of Nauru.

The Island of Nauru is situated in the Central Pacific. The island country is composed of rich deposits of phosphate rocks which have allowed for frequent strip mining. Its nearest neighboring island, Banaba, is about 186 miles to the east. Nauru is the South Pacific’s smallest state and the third smallest country in the world by surface area. The first people to settle on the island were from Micronesia and Polynesia. It became a German Colony in the late 19th century but was later administered by Australia, New Zealand, and the UK before gaining its independence in 1968. According to the 2016 census, Nauru had a population of 9,591 people, with Nauruan forming the largest ethnic group in the country. Although English and Nauruan are the widely spoken languages in the country, there are other five minority languages that are spoken by at least 1,000 people.

Official Language Of Nauru


Nauruan is an Oceanic language spoken as a first language by over 6,000 people in Nauru. It is the country’s official language spoken by almost 96% of the country’s population, especially the ethnic Nauruan. Nauruan language is part of Austronesian languages spoken in Australian and Micronesian regions. Nauruan is also internationally recognized by the United Nation. It is a de facto working language but commonly used in day-to-day communication in most of the homes and markets across the island. There is significantly less dialectal variation in the language, with little influence by foreign languages such as Chinese. However, before the arrival of the Germans, the language had a great diversity of dialects. Today, the little difference in dialects is spoken in and around the Yaren District. Nauruan language is not common outside of the country; it is not well understood outside the island compared to other Micronesian languages. As such, most of the Nauruan speakers have adopted English as their second language.

English: A Widely Spoken Language In Nauru


Since Nauruan is not commonly understood outside the Nauru Island, the Nauruan people are quite fluent in English. English is widely understood by almost all the language groups in the country, despite being the mother tongue of only a few hundred people (2% of the population). There are about seven thousand second language English speakers in Nauru. English is the official language for government and commercial sector as well as the mainstream media. It is also taught in most schools as part of the curriculum. English is also widely spoken by the Asian migrants in the country. However, the merging of the Chinese language and the Nauruan English has resulted in the formation of the Nauruan Pidgin English spoken by some of the Nauruan population.

Minority Languages Spoken In Nauru

Apart from English and Nauruan languages, there are five minority languages spoken in the island country. The Pacific Islanders, the second largest ethnic group in Nauru accounting for 26% of the population, speak mainly the Kiribati and Tuvaluan languages. Marshallese and Kosraen, which are part of Micronesian languages, are spoken by less than 2% of the population. Chinese account for about 15% of the population of Nauru. About 8% of the population speaks Mandarin or Cantonese languages.

By John Misachi

•culled from

Sunday 19 May 2019

Religious Beliefs In Nauru

Christianity is the largest religion in Nauru.

Nauru is the world’s third smallest country by land area, with only 21 square kilometers. With only 11,347 inhabitants, it is regarded as Oceania’s least populated nation. For a while, the economy of the island nation was nearly completely dependent on phosphate extraction from the droppings left by seabirds. However, once the deposits were severely depleted, the country experienced an economic downfall and large-scale emigration.

Christianity is the largest religion practiced in Nauru. The majority of Nauru’s Christians (two-thirds) are Protestants while Roman Catholics make up one-third of the Christian population.

The Largest Religion In Nauru

Nauru was initially inhabited by Polynesians and Micronesians about 3,000 years back. The first European to visit Nauru was John Fearn from Britain. He landed on the island in 1798. Gradually, Europeans started settling in Nauru. The locals traded food with them in exchange for firearms and alcohol. The former was used to fight the tribal wars. Gradually, the control of Nauru passed into the hands of the Europeans and Christianity became a popular religion on the island. The Nauru Congregational Church has the highest number of followers in the country. As of 2011, 35.71% of the country’s population are affiliated to this Church.

Nauruan Indigenous Religion

Prior to the introduction of Christianity in Nauru by Westerners, the people of the region practiced their indigenous beliefs. The Nauruan Indigenous Religion is a monotheistic belief system. Eijebong is the female deity worshipped by adherents of this religion. The indigenous believers follow their own traditional cosmology. Ancestral worship is an important part of the religion. Altars are built outside the homes where food is offered in honor of the family ancestors. According to the believers, Areop-Enap, a spider, created the earth and the sky. Today, only a few individuals in Nauru adhere to this religion.

Other Religions Practiced In Nauru

About 3 to 4% of the population of Nauru are ethnic Chinese. They primarily adhere to Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Other religions like Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism also have a small presence in the country. Only about 0.1% of the population, roughly about 10 individuals, adhere to each of these faiths.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Friday 17 May 2019

Largest Islands In The Federated States Of Micronesia

Pohnpei is the largest island in the archipelago country, and houses Palikir, the national capital.

The Federated States of Micronesia is an independent island nation composed of four states. The country is made up of 607 Islands scattered in the western Pacific Ocean. The islands cover a combined area of 702 km 2. The four states that form the Federated States of Micronesia are Yap, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Kosrae. Pohnpei is the largest island in the archipelago country and houses Palikir, the national capital.

Largest Islands In The Federated States Of Micronesia


Pohnpei is the biggest island of the Federated States of Micronesia. The capital city of the Federated States of Micronesia is located on the island. It covers an area of 117 square miles (371.6 square km). It is located midway between Manila and Honolulu on the Pacific Ocean. The Island is estimated to have a population of 36,200 people. Pohnpei is an elevated Island compared to its outer islands which occupy lower altitudes. Some of the outer islands are, Pingelap, Pakin, Ant, Ngatik, Oroluk, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi. It is a mountainous Island covered by dense rain forests. Mangrove swamps are on the lower shores. The island’s circumference is lined with coral reef. The inhabitants of Pohnpei are Micronesian and a small expatriate community of Americans, Australians, and Europeans. Christian missionaries visited the island in the 19th century, and as a result, the population is predominantly Christian. The Islanders practice subsistent farming and fishing.


Kosrae is the second largest island in the Federated States of Micronesia. It has a land area of 43 square miles (110 square km). The island state has an estimated population of 6,600 residents. Kosrae is covered in dense vegetation and scenic mountains. Scuba divers and hikers regularly visit Kosrae. The island’s natural resources are still intact due to its isolation. Coral reefs surround the island. Government agencies such as the Marine Resources Office help preserve the resources on Kosrae.


Yap state is composed of many islands that form part of the Federated States of Micronesia. The state covers a land area of 39 square miles (100 square km). It has a population of approximately 11,400 residents. The island is famous for its stone money; large doughnut-like stone disks used as currency in ancient days. Some of the stones had diameters as wide as 4 meters. The stones were extracted from quarries in distant islands and hence they were very scarce. Nowadays, the island uses US Dollars as its currency. Yap residents were among the best navigators in the Pacific Ocean. They relied on wave movements and stars to navigate the ocean. The Yapese had a complex caste system that ranked villages and families. The higher ranks enjoyed privileges that were denied to the lower ranking people. When Germans colonized the island, the caste system was abandoned.


Chuuk is a composed of many small islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands cover a combined area of 47 square miles (21.5 square km). It is the most populous state of the Federated States of Micronesia with a population of over 50,000 residents. Chuuk is home to Weno, Micronesia’s largest city. Navigation schools in the island offer lessons, and as a result, residents of Chuuk are good navigators. Christianity is the dominant religion although belief in spirits and ancestor worship are still prevalent.

Unexplored Islands Of Micronesia

The numerous islands that form the Federated States of Micronesia are largely unexplored. The areas are isolated and have poor infrastructure thus, and they are difficult to access. In recent years, immigrants from all corners of the world have been moving into the region. The government needs to set rules to preserve the resources within the islands.

Rank Largest Islands in the Federated States of Micronesia Land Area
1 Pohnpei 117 square miles
2 Kosrae 43 square miles
3 Yap 39 square miles
4 Weno 36 square miles
5 Pingelap 0.7 square miles
6 Nukuoro 0.66 square miles
7 Satawal 0.5 square miles
8 Mokil 0.43 square miles
9 Kapingamarangi 0.4 square miles
12 Lelu
Ngatik 0.39 square miles
0.35 square miles
0.32 square miles

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Thursday 16 May 2019

Religious Beliefs In The Federated States of Micronesia

Christianity is the religion of the majority in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The Federated States of Micronesia is a 271 square mile nation comprised of 607 islands in the western portion of the Pacific Ocean. The country is made up of four states the largest of which is Pohnpei State which occupies an area of roughly 144 square miles. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in 2016, the Federated States of Micronesia was home to approximately 104,937 people. People have lived within the nation's boundaries for more than 4,000 years, and the religion practiced within Micronesia reflects its long history. Today, Christianity is the religion of the majority.

History of Religion in the Federated States of Micronesia

Religion in Micronesia dates back to the establishment of the first human societies on the islands. When the first communities settled in Micronesia, they brought over religious practices from their previous origins. Over time, a religion centered in Pohnpei became the most dominant religion in Micronesia. The dominant religion was popularized by the Saudeleur dynasty that took over Pohnpei. However, the Saudeleur dynasty would later collapse due to several reasons, and the Micronesians believed that the main reason for the collapse was the rulers who had angered the deities. Several historical sources indicate that a warrior named Isokelekel led the rebellion against the Saudeleur dynasty. After the regime had collapsed, he made some important changes to the Micronesian way of life such as the establishment of a priestly system. The system introduced by Isokelekel is still in use on the island of Pohnpei in modern times. Christianity was introduced to the Micronesian people by Spanish missionaries after the Spanish took control of the nation. One of the missionaries who worked hard to ensure the spread of Christianity in Micronesia was Luther Gulic.

Religion in Present-Day Micronesia

Data indicates that present-day Micronesian societies are mostly Christian with both the Roman Catholic Church and several Protestant denominations having a significant representation on the island. The major religious sects in Micronesia differ depending on the state.

Religion in Kosrae

In 1852, the Congregationalists established the first missionary post in Kosrae Island. The Congregationalists were dedicated to converting the residents to Christianity, and by 1870, most of the residents of the island had been converted to Christianity. In the present day, nearly 95% of the residents of Kosrae are Protestants.

Religion in Yap

Before the 1880s, most of the people who lived in Yap practiced native religions and during that period, Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in the area and converted a significant portion of the population to Christianity. In the present day, according to data from a census carried out in 2000, Roman Catholics account for nearly 84% of Yap's population.

Religion in Chuuk

In the Micronesian state of Chuuk, Christianity is the dominant religion with Roman Catholicism being the dominant denomination. The Jesuits, a Roman Catholic society, is one of the most important religious organizations in Chuuk. Despite the dominance of Christianity in Chuuk, several traditional beliefs still linger such as the belief that the spirits of the dead can possess people particularly women.

Religion in Pohnpei

In Pohnpei state, Christianity is the dominant religion with the Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church having nearly equal number of adherents in the state. Pohnpei has attracted a notable number of immigrants, mainly Italians, most of who belong to the Roman Catholic denomination.

Other Religions in Micronesia

Apart from Christianity and the native religions, other faiths with a presence in Micronesia include Buddhism and Islam. In 2015, a Muslim society, the Ahmadiyya Muslims was registered in the country despite stiff opposition from the locals.

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Wednesday 15 May 2019

What Languages Are Spoken In The Federated States Of Micronesia?

In the sovereign island nation of the Federated States Of Micronesia, English serves as the official and most widely spoken language.

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM or Micronesia), is a sovereign island nation in the Pacific Ocean and a member of the Small Island Development States (SIDS) of the World. Micronesia consists of four smaller states namely; Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae all associating freely with the US while its capital city is Palikir. Until 1986, Micronesia was part of the UN’s Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under US administration, a factor that has made the FSM over depend on the US to this day. Geographically, Micronesia consists of 607 small islands grouped into seven territories and spread over an area of approximately 271 square miles covering a longitudinal length of approximately 1,678 miles.

There are eighteen recognized languages of the Federated States Of Micronesia, seventeen of which are indigenous. There are six institutionalized languages out of the total eighteen while four are still to be developing. Four of the languages enjoy wide use, two are facing sustainability challenges, and other two are technically dead. Languages not mentioned include the Kapingamarangi, Woleaian, Ulithian, Nukuoro, Pingelapese, Satawalese, Mortlockese, Ngatikese, Puluwatese, and Mokilese among others. There are a considerable number of the older generation who speak fluent Japanese owing to the political history with Japan during the first World War.

Official Language Of The Federated States Of Micronesia

Majority of the 105,000 Micronesians speak English as the official language with an estimated literacy level of 89%. This language is the official language of instruction in schools, government, as well as commerce and owe its use to the historical relationship with the US from 1947 to 1994. Due to the concern of preserving local languages while maintaining international languages, Micronesia has a language policy that places importance on both English as an international language and local dialects for cultural preservation.

Chuukese Language

Chuukuse is an ethnic group that forms half of Micronesia’s population and also speaking their own dialect, the Chuukese. The Chuukese language also called Trukese is the native language spoken mostly in Chuuk state with some smaller speakers of this dialect found in Guam and the other islands. Approximately 45,900 locals identify themselves as natives of this language that interestingly has most words starting with double consonants. Chuuk state uses Chuukese and English as official languages of instruction for students in first grade up to eighth grade and thereafter, upper-grade students only use English. Approximately 48.8 of the total Micronesian population speak Chuukese.


Approximately 8,000 citizens (6.2% of the total population) of Micronesia speak Kosraean and mostly in the Kosrae state. Just like the other indigenous languages, school going children between grades 1-3 use this language for instruction and thereafter at grades 4-5, they use Kosraean and English for instruction in school. Kosraean has 12 vowels and 11 consonants as well as a variety of possessive adjectives.


Mostly spoken in Yap State, the Yapese language is an Austronesian language. Approximately 7,000 people speak this language with an interesting characteristic whereby speaker pronounce all the words that have vowels at their beginnings with a glottal stop. This is Yapese’s distinct feature settiGghng it apart from the other languages of the nation. Yapese use in school is similar to the Kosraean structure and Yapese speakers make up 5.2% of national population.


Over 30,000 people (24.2% of national population) in the state of Pohnpei speak Pohnpeian language making it the second most popular indigenous language in Micronesia. Though not a dialect of Chuukese, these two languages share a close structural relationship. With an alphabet of 20 letters, this language has different vocabularies and grammar that manifest themselves in different socio-economic strata, meaning the rich and poor sometimes use different vocabulary. Pohnpeian follows the similar rule in school as the other FSM languages.

By Mark Owuor Otieno

•culled from

Tuesday 14 May 2019

What Is Micronesia?

A subregion of Oceania, Micronesia includes thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean.
Where Is Micronesia?
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania located in the western Pacific region, just to the north of the equator. The region is comprised of thousands of small islands of volcanic and coral origin, and five independent nations including the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Also included are US territories such as Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Wake Island. Smaller islands within the region include Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror, and Peleliu. In most of these islands there exist several atolls (ring-shaped reef or islands formed or coral), such as the bikini atoll on Marshall Island. Micronesia has close cultural links with the surrounding Polynesian and Melanesian regions.

History Of Micronesia

Micronesia has been inhabited for thousands of years. Colonialists first arrived in the region in 2 BC. The first European settlers to arrive in Micronesia were the Portuguese in 1521. The navigator Ferdinand Magellan was the first Portuguese explorer to arrive on the island and was received cordially. Spanish colonialists arrived in Micronesia in the 17th century. The Spanish occupied Guam, Northern Marinas and the Caroline Islands which they ruled from the Spanish Philippines. American missionaries arrived in the region during the 19th century and were responsible for the conversion of the people in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. Towards the end of the 19th century, Spain lost most of its colonies to America in the Spanish-American war. America took the Spanish Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island. The German Empire bought the Spanish territory by signing the German-Spanish Treaty of 1899. In the 20th century, Micronesia was governed by the US, Germany, and Britain. Germany lost its territories after losing in the First World War. Currently, most of the regions within Micronesia exist as independent states except for Guam and Wake Island which are still territories of the US.

Climate Of Micronesia

Micronesia experiences a tropical marine climate with influence from the northeast trade winds. There are two distinct seasons. The rainy season occurs from July to November/ December, sometimes accompanied by typhoons which cause extensive damage to the island. The dry season occurs between December or January and June. Seasonal temperature variations are minor with the temperature ranging between 26 o C and 32ºC.

Biodiversity And Threats To Micronesia

Micronesia is a biologically diverse region with several plant and animal species. It is home to about 61% of the world’s coral species, 1300 reef fish species, 85 bird species, and 1,400 plant species including 200 which are endemic. Mammal species in the region include the dwarf sperm whale, the Chuuk flying bat, the ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, the rough-toothed dolphin, Fraser’s dolphin, and the pygmy killer whale. Out the 12 mammal species in the region, three are critically endangered and two are endangered. Birds in Micronesia include the black-footed albatross, the white-necked petrel, tropical shearwater, red-footed booby, and the great cormorant.

Economy Of Micronesia

The chief economic activities within Micronesia include the sale of fishing rights to foreign bodies, which is the primary source of income to Micronesia. Tourism also contributes to the economy though the sector has a minor contribution, mainly on account of the relative difficulty of reaching the islands.

By Joyce Chepkemoi

•culled from

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Religious Beliefs In The Marshall Islands

Christianity is the religion of the majority in the Marshall Islands.

The island nation of the Marshall Islands is an associated state of the US. It is located in the Pacific Ocean where it is part of Micronesia. The Marshall Islands is home about 74,539 individuals. The population is spread out over the 29 coral atolls that make up the country.

92.1% of the population of the country is represented by the ethnic Marshallese people. The mixed Marshallese and other ethnic groups account for 5.9% and 2% of the population, respectively.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Christianity is the religion of the vast majority of the population of the Marshall Islands. 54.8% of the population are Protestant Christians. The followers of the Assemblies of God, the Roman Catholic Church, Mormonism, and the Bukot Nan Jesus Church account for 25.8%, 8.4%, 2.1%, and 2.8% of the population of the Marshall Islands, respectively. Adherents of other Christian denominations and other religions comprise 3.6% and 1% of the population, respectively. 1.5% of the population are not affiliated to any religion.

History Of Religion In The Marshall Islands

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans and the introduction of Christianity, the natives of the Marshall Islands practiced their own traditional religions. They worshipped a pantheon of deities. Conversions to Christianity became common in the region in the second half of the 19th century. Christian missionaries arrived in the Marshall Islands in large numbers and began converting the islanders to the various denominations of Christianity. The local shrines began to be replaced by Christian churches which became the focal point of every town and village in the region. Despite the influence of Christianity, many of the islanders did not completely discard their indigenous rituals and customs. In fact, they practiced a syncretic form of religion that infused the beliefs of both Christianity and their indigenous religions. The belief in magic continues to play an important role in the daily life of the people of the Marshall Islands. Ancestors are highly revered and death is considered as simply a passage into another form of existence.

Freedom Of Religion In The Marshall Islands

The Constitution of the country provides for the freedom of religion. The society is generally religiously tolerant. The government of the Marshall Islands also respects the people’s right to practice a religion of their choice. Missionaries from various Christian denominations are active in the country. Some religious schools like the Rita Christian School, the Assumption Catholic School, etc., are present here. No reports of forced religious conversions or discrimination on the basis of religion have been recorded in the Marshall Islands.

Religious Beliefs In The Marshall Islands

Rank Religion Population (%)
1 Protestant 54.8
2 Assemblies of God 25.8
3 Roman Catholic 8.4
4 Other Christian 3.6
5 Bukot Nan Jesus 2.8
6 Mormon 2.1
7 Unaffiliated 1.5
8 Other Non-Christian 1

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Where is The Marshall Islands?

Where is the capital of The Marshall Islands?

Located in the continent of Oceania ,
Marshall Islands covers 181 square kilometers of land, making it the 221st largest nation in terms of land area.
The Marshall Islands became an independent state in 1986, after gaining its sovereignty from The United States Of America. The population of The Marshall Islands is 68,480 (2012) and the nation has a density of 378 people per square kilometer.

The currency of The Marshall Islands is the US Dollar (USD). As well, the people of The Marshall Islands are refered to as Marshallese.

The dialing code for the country is 692 and the top level internet domain for Marshallese sites is .mh.

The Marshall Islands does not share land borders with any countries.
To learn more, visit our detailed Marshall Islands section.

Quick facts

Population 68,480
Density 378.3 / km 2 ( 979.9 / mi2 )
Languages Marshallese, English
Independence Year 1986
Capital Majuro (Majuro Atoll)
Currency US Dollar
GDP 190,914,600 (2013 data)
GDP per Capita 2,788 (2013 data)
Land Area 181 km 2 (70 mi2 )
Minimum Longitude 165.530
Maximum Longitude 172.000
Mininum Latitude 4.570
Maximum Latitude 14.620

What is the capital of The Marshall Islands?

Majuro is the capital city of Marshall Islands. It has a population of 25,400, and is located on a latitue of 7.09 and longitude of 171.38.
Majuro is also the political center of Marshall Islands, which is considered a Republic, and home to its Executive head of state.

Quick Facts About Majuro, the Capital Of The Marshall Islands

City Majuro
Country The Marshall Islands
Population 25,400
Longitude 171.38027000
Latitude 7.08971000
Elevation 6 meters over sea level

Most popular cities in The Marshall Islands

Nearby Countries

The Federated States Of Micronesia
Solomon Islands
Papua New Guinea

•culled from

Saturday 4 May 2019

Religion In Kiribati: Important Facts And Figures

Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the island nation of Kiribati.

Christianity is the religion of the majority in the small island nation of Kiribati located in the central Pacific Ocean. The nation has a resident population of about 100,000, as of 2011. 

The native islanders of Kiribati are known as the I-Kiribati. They trace their origins to Austronesians and Polynesians who arrived on the islands of the country thousands of years back. The Micronesians of different ancestral origins intermarried to produce a relatively homogenous population, the I-Kiribati.

Religion In Kiribati

The Constitution of Kiribati allows residents of the country to enjoy the right to freedom of religion. The government upholds this right of the people. Social discrimination in the name of religion although not unheard of, is relatively infrequent.

The different denominations of Christianity together constitute the largest religious group in the country. About 96% of the population of the country are Christians. 0.05% of the country’s population are not affiliated to any religion.

Christianity: The Dominant Religion In Kiribati

The religion was introduced to the island nation in the 19th century by the Christian missionaries. 56% of the country’s population are Roman Catholics and are primarily concentrated in the islands to the north. The Protestant Christian population of Kiribati are mainly dominant in the southern islands. 34% of the population is affiliated to the Kiribati Uniting Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also has a significant presence in the country and a follower base of around 17,472 people. Both the churches have many church buildings in the country dedicated to the faiths.

Minority Religions In Kiribati


The Bahá’ís are the only non-Christian faith in Kiribati with a significant number of followers. The religion was introduced in Kiribati at about the beginning of the 20th century as mentioned in the accounts of the then head of the faith, `Abdu’l-Bahá. The first Bahá’ís in Kiribati settled on the island of Abaiang. They soon entered into conflict with the resident Catholics and were deported from Kiribati. The first Bahá’ís convert of Kiribati was also evicted from Abaiang. However, despite the outrage against the spread of the faith in Kiribati, small groups of followers started emerging gradually. Today, the faith has a significant number of followers in the country. Although the census figures indicate that only 2 to 3% of the population of Kiribati are adherents of the Bahá’ís faith, the Bahá’ís themselves claim that the figure is much higher at 17%.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Friday 3 May 2019

The Culture And Traditions Of Kiribati

Kiribati's relative isolated has allowed to preserve the indigenous cultures and traditions of the country for centuries.

Kiribati is an island nation located in the central area of the Pacific Ocean. Its current customs and traditions have been influenced both by its history as a colony of the UK and by its relative isolation from the rest of the world. Its colonial history has influenced some of its major holidays and religions, while its geographical isolation has allowed it to keep some of its ancient traditions and customs alive. This country is made up of 33 islands and has a population of around 110,000 individuals, half of whom live in or around the capital city Tarawa. Only around 20 of these islands have permanent human populations. Approximately 98.8% of the population here identifies as belonging to the Micronesian ethnicity. The most widely spoken language throughout this country is Taetae ni Kiribati, also known as Gilbertese. This language belongs to the Austronesian language family.

The culture of Kiribati includes its: social beliefs and customs, religions and festivals, music and dance, literature and arts, and cuisine. This article takes a closer look at each of these components of the culture of Kiribati.

Social Beliefs And Customs

The society of Kiribati is characterized by its retention of traditional beliefs and customs. One of the most unique customs in this country concerns the issue of land ownership. Families of this island are organized by utu, a group of relatives and family. A single person may be part of more than one utu, depending on their familial ties. These utus are the root of the society here and dictate ownership of local land and property. Parents may leave property and utu membership to their children when they pass away. The center of the utu is referred to as the kainga. Whoever occupies the kainga space has more decision making power about how the familial property may be used.

Religion And Festivals

Today, the vast majority of the population (around 96%) of Kiribati identifies as a follower of the Christian religion. Of these individuals, 55.6% consider themselves to be Catholics and 33.5% attend the Kiribati Uniting Church. The latter church is classified as a Protestant sect and was founded in 1968, when Kiribati was still part of the Gilbert Islands. In 1916, the Baha’i religion was introduced to population here. Currently, around 2.3% of the residents of Kiribati report following the teachings of this religion, making it the second largest, non-Christian religion practiced on the island.

The biggest celebration in Kiribati is Independence Day, which falls on July 12th each year. On this day in 1979, Kiribati gained its independence from the UK. The celebration of this day is extended and takes place during the week running up to the official date. The festivities are primarily concentrated in the capital of the country, South Tarawa. Some of the biggest activities for this day include: parades, games, sports, competitions, beauty pageants, and dancing. On August 10th, the residents of Kiribati celebrate National Youth Day. The primary purpose of this day is to promote the involvement of youth in social and political issues. On this day, the youngest residents of Kiribati come together in several locations to brainstorm solutions for the challenges facing the future of this country.

Music And Dance

The music of Kiribati is considered a type of folk music and is unique in that it has maintained much of its traditional aspects over time. Songs from this country are centered around the vocals, which often take the form of chanting. Interestingly, music in Kiribati also incorporates a practice known as body percussion. This type of percussion produces a rhythm by clapping hands, snapping fingers, or bouncing feet on the floor. Music is often used in this country to accompany major life events, such as marriage, death, and religious observances.

Dancing in Kiribati is just as traditional as the music. Eight specific dances have been identified as originating in this country: Buki, Ruoia, Te Kabuti, Tirere, and Kaimatoa. Although distinct, each of these dances shares the common theme of mimicking the movements of the frigatebird, which is depicted on the national flag of Kiribati. These bird-like dance moves typically involve outstretched arms and jerking head movements.

Literature And Arts

Because of the relative isolation of this island nation, the exchange of stories and ideas with other cultures has been limited. This limited access to other cultures around the world means that many of the examples of literature and art from Kiribati rely heavily on ancient and traditional ideas. Handcrafted items are commonly created from locally sourced materials, such as reed and other grasses that can be woven together. These objects primarily serve a daily purpose, like sandals and baskets, and therefore may not be viewed as art by some individuals around the world. Other examples of art produced on this island include jewelry and carved trinkets, both of which tend to utilize seashells. These types of handicrafts are commonly sold to tourists as souvenirs and the money from these sales represents a large percentage of the national economy.

Kiribati is not known for its literary output. In fact, only one author, Teresia Teaiwa, is commonly associated with this country. She is not from Kiribati, however, and was actually born in the US state of Hawaii. She grew up in Fiji. Her mother is an African American from the US and her father is from Kiribati.


As an island nation, Kiribati lacks access to a number of food items that might be more common or easily obtained in the rest of the world. Additionally, this island is a coral atoll, which means that the soil is nutrient deficient. These harsh conditions make growing any sort of agricultural crop here quite difficult. Due to this factor, fishing has become a mainstay of the economy and of survival for the population here. Therefore, seafood is the primary component of traditional Kiribati dishes. Seafood may be prepared in a number of ways, including: baked, fried, and steamed. Bananas and coconuts are also able to survive here and so these two ingredients also make their way into traditional, Kiribati cuisine.

By Amber Pariona

•culled from

Thursday 2 May 2019

The Biggest Cities And Towns In Fiji

Suva is Fiji’s biggest city and the administrative and political capital of Fiji. It is also a major cosmopolitan city in the region.

Fiji is an island nation in Melanesia, South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago of Fiji spans an area of 18,300 square km and is made up of 330 islands and 500 islets of which 110 islands are permanently inhabited. The most populated islands in Fiji are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu which house nearly 87% of the population of the nation. The three largest settlements in this area are Suva, Nadi, and Lautoka. The country has a well-documented economy with an abundance of natural resources like mineral, fish, and forests.

The Five Biggest Settlements In Fiji


Suva is Fiji’s biggest city and is located on the Viti Levu island’s southeast coast in the country’s Rewa Province. The city is the administrative and political capital of Fiji. The city is well-known for being the largest cosmopolitan city in the southern Pacific Ocean and is populated by a large expatriate population. Suva was declared as the capital of Fiji way back in 1877 replacing the position of the former capital of Levuka due to the latter’s geographical restrictions. The city, along with the neighboring towns of Lami, Nasinu, and Nausori hosts over one-third of the country’s population.
Most of the national financial institutions of Fiji, several non-governmental institutions, and departments of the government are based in Suva. Suva's King's Wharf serves as an important center of Fiji's international shipping. The city also hosts large industrial centers saturated with warehouses and factories. Suva is also an important cultural center of Fiji and many stadiums, parks and gardens, music auditoriums, and other entertainment venues are located here.


Lautoka is Fiji’s second biggest city and is located to the west of the Viti Levi island and is the country’s second port of entry after Suva. Lautoka is often nicknamed the “Sugar City” since it is at the heart of the sugar cane growing region of Fiji. The city encompasses an area of 16 square km. The Lautoka Sugar Mill, established in 1903, is the biggest employer in Lautoka. Other than the sugar industry, the city also houses timber milling, blending, steelworks, paints, fishing, hatchery, and other industries.


Nadi is Fiji’s third largest settlement and is located on Viti Levu island’s western side. Nadi’s population is multi-ethnic in origin. Although most permanent residents are either Fijian or Indian, the city has a significant transient population of tourists of multi-racial origin. The city is a significant religious center of Hinduism and Islam. The Sri Siva Subramaniya temple is the biggest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere and is located in Nadi. The Nadi International Airport is 9 km away from the main city.


Labasa is a town in the Macuata Province of Fiji and is the Vanua Levu island’s biggest town. The town is situated on the delta formed by the three rivers of Labasa, Qawa, and Wailevu. Labasa is surrounded by sugar cane farms, and thus sugar cane processing is a significant industry in the town. However, the recent poor performance of the sugar industry in the town has forced migration of people living on the island to other areas.


Ba is the fifth biggest Fijian town, 37 km from Lautoka on the largest island of Fiji, Viti Levu. The town encompasses an area of 327 square km and is based on the banks of the Ba River. Sugar cane is the main industry of this town. Tourists also visit Ba in large numbers since it is a major cultural center in the country.

Which Are The Biggest Cities And Towns In Fiji?

Rank Name Population
1 Suva 77,366
2 Lautoka 52,500
3 Nadi 42,284
4 Labasa 27,949
5 Ba 14,596
6 Levuka 8,360

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Religion in Fiji: Important Facts and Figures

Fiji has a diverse religious landscape, but Christianity is the religion of the majority.

The religious landscape of Fiji is varied, but Christianity is dominant, followed by Hinduism and Islam. While indigenous Fijians are mainly Christians, most of those with Asian ancestry are Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs. The country also celebrates several festivals and observes numerous holidays, since it acknowledges the special days of the major religions practiced in the country. Below is a more detailed description of the religious beliefs of Fiji.

How Did Religious Beliefs Evolve in Fiji?

Prior to the 19th century, indigenous Fijians practiced various traditional religions based on divination and animism. With the arrival of the Europeans in the later years, the religious landscape of Fiji started to change, with Christianity gradually gaining popularity. The conversion of Fijian tribal chiefs to Christianity helped spread the religion among their followers. The colonization of Fiji by the British led to further changes in the country’s religious landscape. While Christianity became hugely popular during this time, other religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam were also introduced in the country by indentured laborers that the British brought from India to work in the country’s sugar plantations.

Freedom of Religion in Fiji: What Does the Law Say?

Prior to colonization, Fiji's traditional laws governed the people’s right to practice religion. After the British captured Fiji, the laws imposed by the British government became applicable, and therefore the Westminster system dictated the religious rights of the country’s people. In independent Fiji, the constitution protects people’s right to practice the religion of their choice. However, that right might be terminated if deemed a threat to the public or an infringement on the freedom or rights of other members of society.

Indigenous Religious Beliefs of Fiji

The religious beliefs of indigenous Fijians can be classified as shamanism or animism. For example, complex rituals, spirit worship, belief in after life, worship of natural objects and phenomena, belief in several myths and legends, are all part of such religious beliefs. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, such beliefs governed every aspect of life for indigenous Fijians.

Christianity in Fiji

Christianity is the dominant religion in Fiji, and is practiced by 64.4% of the country’s population. The religion was first introduced in Fiji by the Tongans, who were more receptive to the Europeans than Fiji’s indigenous population. As the influence of Enele Ma’afu, a Tongan Prince and an ardent follower of Christianity, grew in the Lau Group of islands of Fiji, Christianity began to spread quickly throughout the country. When Seru Epenisa Cakobau, a powerful Fiji chieftain, converted to Christianity, the religion found an even firmer ground in the country, and the colonization of Fiji by the British in 1874 ensured that Christianity grew and prospered even further.
Methodism is the most dominant Christian denomination in Fiji today, while Anglicanism, Catholicism, and several other denominations also have significant followings.

Hinduism in Fiji

Hinduism is the second major religion in Fiji, and is practiced by 27.9% of the country’s population. Hinduism was introduced in Fiji by indentured Hindu workers who were brought to the island from India by British colonialists to work Fiji’s sugar plantations between 1879 and 1920. Many of these workers and their families settled in Fiji and soon their religion evolved to become an integral part of the Fijian religious beliefs. Today, large and impressive Hindu temples dot the country. The most famous among these temples is the Krishna temple of ISKCON, which is ISCON’s biggest temple outside of India. The lives of Fiji’s Hindus have not been entirely peaceful since the community has faced persecution during several events of communal unrest and coups. The Hindu community of Fiji, however, still continues to thrive and has built several temples, schools, and other institutions that serve their religious, educational, and other needs in Fiji.

Islam in Fiji

Like Hinduism, Islam in Fiji was introduced primarily by Muslim indentured workers brought to the islands of Fiji from India by British colonialists. Their religion was established in the country by the latter half of the 19th century. Today, Muslims constitute 6.3% of Fiji's population. The majority of Fiji’s Muslims are Sunnis (59.7 %) and the remainder either belong to the Ahmadiyya minority (3.6%) or other denominations (36.7%). Fiji also has its own Muslim League that advocates for the rights of the country’s Muslim community, promotes Islamic education, and also actively participates in politics.

Communal Conflicts in Fiji

Although the country’s constitution grants the freedom to practice all religions, several communal conflicts and coups mar Fiji's recent history. Between the late 1980s and early 2000s, Hindus became victims of religious persecution and many were forced to emigrate to other countries. Even the burning of Hindu temples was linked to arson attacks. In recent years, some politicians have even advocated for the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Fiji, but no policy has yet been implemented.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•Culled from
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