Kosrae State is composed of a single 42-square-mile island, Kosrae, the second largest island in the FSM. The profile of the central mountain, Mount Finkol, gives the island its nickname: Island of the Sleeping Lady.
Kosrae is a lush, jungle-covered, high volcanic island ...
... with friendly, easy-going people.
The Air Micronesia crews who fly into Kosrae know to stock up on the island's delicious green-skinned, nearly seedless, sweet tangerines.
Five traditional villages ring the island.
From 1400 to 1800 Kosrae was ruled by a feudal aristocracy from Insaru on Lelu Island, which is joined to the northeast side of the main island by a causeway. The prismatic stacked basalt ruins of Insaru are still impressive. Local lore has it that the buildings were constructed overnight by two magicians. Warriors from Insaru captured Nan Madol, the capital of Pohnpei, in the 17th century, overthrowing the Saudeleur dynasty.
Diseases brought to Kosrae by whaling ships nearly wiped out the population in the 1850's. The whalers were followed by protestant missionaries from Hawaii, who converted the survivors. The people today are very religious. The whole island shuts down completely on Sunday except for church services, sung in beautiful multi-part harmony.
Between World War I and World War II thousands of Japanese came to Kosrae, forcing the population to abandon their villages and move inland. Part way up the slopes of Mount Finkol are the the ruins of Menke, even older than the Lelu ruins. Menke was sacred to the breadfruit goddess Sinlaku.
The island is surrounded by mangroves and a fringing reef. Underwater visibility is excellent. The reef is composed mainly of hard coral. A system of mooring buoys protects it from anchor damage.
There is a wide variety of fish.
The hard coral heads house huge numbers of spiral gill ("Christmas tree") worms.
Other reef creatures:
We sought out nudibranchs (Paul's favorite animals).
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Last modified 10 November 2009