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Kosrae has a rich and colorful history. Almost everything you experience in Kosrae is linked to the cultural past.
The question of Kosrae has yet to answered conclusively. Archaeological
evidence indicates that Kosrae was settled during the beginning of the
first millennium by Malayo-Polynesian seafaring peoples. These were
pioneers and explorers who sailed from the Marshall Islands or Vanuatu.
Only archaeology and legends can tell us what actually happened in
the past since there was no written language until American missionaries
arrived in the mid-19th century. The oral traditions say Kosraens
flourished as an advanced fishing and horticultural society.
Western expansion bypassed Kosrae until 1824 when the French captain Louis
Isidore Dupperey sailing about the Coquille, anchored in Okat harbour
and stayed in Kosrae for 10 days. Countless others would follow, in
particular disenchanted whalers - known as beachcombers - who jumped the
ship's configes and harsh living conditions to stay in what they
considered to be an island paradise
Introduced diseases and alcohol devastated Kosrae's population.
American missionaries felt the need to protect Kosrae from the large
numbers of whalers and beachcombers who had made the island their home.
In 1852, the Reverend Dr. Benjamin Snow arrived in Kosrae at the
height of the beachcomber era. Snow and other missionaries introduced
western style clothing and discouraged drinking.
Schools were built and the missionaries wrote the Kosraen language
for the first time. Many of the hymns sung in Kosrae today are identical
to those heard in Boston churches generations ago.
The Germans entered Micronesia after the Spanish-American war in
1898. Though German rule would last only 15 years, they altered a
subsistence lifestyle to include forced labour on copra plantations and
introduced a cash economy.
The Japanese Empire forced the Germans out at the outbreak of World
War I in 1914. The Japanese contributed greatly to Kosraen culture, but
at severe cost, fully realised when the Pacific War (1941 - 1945)
The armistice of 1945 ushered in a new era for Micronesia. The United
Nations put the United States in charge of the social, economic, and
political development of the former Japanese colonies of the Western
Pacific, and a slow process of Americanisation took shape.
In 1986 the US ended its administration of Chuuk, Yap, Kosrae, and
Pohnpei. These become the Federated States of Micronesia. The UN
formally ended the trusteeship in 1990 and the FSM became a member of
Today, Kosrae looks to the future with toursim, fishing, and agriculture as
its main economic engines. Fueling this engine is the Mwolana spirit of
hospitality and self-sufficiency
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