Fed States of Micronesia
Kapingamarangi is the most southerly atoll of the Caroline Islands and thereby also the most southerly of Pohnpei State. Closer to New Ireland, PNG than to Pohnpei, Kapingamarangi is one of the few Polynesian outliers in the western Pacific. The atoll and its lagoon cover an area of more than 70 square kilometers, but the combined land of the 33 islets on the lagoon’s eastern side is only 1.1 square kilometer. Three of these islets are home to the roughly 500 residents of Kapingamarangi. Touhou, the smallest of the three, has the largest population and is connected to larger Ueru (sometimes spelt Welua) by a zigzagging causeway. Just south of Touhou –and slightly bigger- is Taringa (Taarin) which has the smallest group of residents. In total there are some 500 people living on Kapingamarangi, but more live in the village of Porakiet on Pohnpei where they were given land by the former Japanese administration in 1919.
The Greenwich Passage with its two narrow channels on the atoll’s southern side permits small ships to enter, and in the late 19th century trade with Rabaul (then German New Guinea) was started. Under the Japanese administration a few islets close to the channels were used to house a small radio tower, barracks and two temporary piers for seaplanes on the largest islet. The wreck of an American Liberator bomber, “WWII’s unluckiest plane”, is found in 20-30 feet depth in the lagoon. A few islets still feature under their Japanese names.