in, Welcome to the Yap Community Page

Origin of the People of Yap Island
from the Yap Visitors Bureau
Stone Platform at the Ngolog well; courtesy of Sam Baamafel and Dominic Fanasog

Legend has it that prior to a great flood over 2000 years ago, five supernatural beings or spirits “surfaced” from a water well in the Ngolog Village on Yap. These five spirits became the first inhabitants of Yap. One day the spirit named Gusney left his companions on a journey to find new lands. He sailed in a canoe using only his hands, the wind and the currents of the ocean. After many months, Gusney came upon a human family from Indonesia. He sent them to Yap to let the other spirits know of his whereabouts. That human family made Yap their home with the other spirits on island. These were the ancestors of the Yapese people.

However, one should note that Yap is not the traditional name of the island. Stories told by elders describe the time the first foreign ship came to Yap around the early 1600’s. When the ship dropped its anchor, a canoe of local warriors from the island sailed out to greet the ship. Using sign language, the warriors indicated that they wanted the captain to come ashore for discussions. As the Captain boarded the warrior's canoe, he pointed towards the shore and asked the name of the island. Thinking that the Captain was pointing at a canoe paddle held by a navigator sitting in the bow, the warriors responded “Yap.” The name was then recorded by the Captain as the name of the island. To this day the islands of Wa'ab are known to the outside world as Yap, which actually means ‘canoe paddle.’

Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia

Flag of Yap State; courtesy of Wikimedia
Map of Yap State; courtesy of Wikimedia

Capital: Colonia
Population: 11,647 (2006)[1]
Land Area: 100.2 sq km (38.7 sq mi)
Languages: Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Satawalese, English
Indigenous Ethnicities: Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Satawalese
Greetings: Mogethin

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Climate & Climate Impacts

FSM has two seasons -- a dry season from November to April and a wet season from May to October. The region sees very little seasonal variation in temperature, with only a 3 degree Fahrenheit difference between the average hottest and coolest months. The climate in FSM depends on three phenomena: the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the West Pacific Monsoon, and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Climate varies from year to year due to ENSO, the a natural fluctuation between El Nino and La Nina that occurs across the tropical Pacific and affects weather globally. El Nino brings more rainfall during wet seasons and even less rainfall during dry seasons. La Nina brings above average rainfall during dry seasons. The West Pacific Monsoon is caused by large differences in temperature bwetween the land and the ocean. It tens to affects Chuuk and Yap more than Pohnpei and Kosrae, bringing more rain to east FSM during El Nino and less rain in a more western position during La Nina. The movement of the ITCZ -- a band of heavy rainfall caused by air rising over warm water over the equator -- affects rainfall in FSM. Wet season occurs when the ITCZ moves north closer to FSM. The ITCZ also results in less rainfall during El Nino and more during La Nina.[2]

Data shows that temperatures have increased in Pohnpei since 1952 (about 0.19 degrees Fahrenheit per decade), consistent with the global pattern of warming. There is also a clear decreasing trend in annual and wet season rainfall since 1950; however, there is no clear trend in dry season patterns. Satellite data indicates the sea level has risen in FSM by over 0.39 inches per year since 1993; although this higher rate of rise may be partially related to natural fluctuations caused by ENSO. Finally, ocean acidification increasing. Data shows that since the 18th century, the level of ocean acidification has been slowly increasing in FSM waters.[3]

Scientists are expecting that annual average air and sea surface temperatures will continue to increase by up to 1.8-1.9 degrees Fahrenheit. That means more very hot days and a decline in cooler weather. Rainfall patterns will continue to change -- while global climate models are not showing consistent results, scientists are expecting less frequent droughts and more extreme rainfall days more often. It is likely that there will also be a decrease in the proportion of intense storms. And while there will likely be fewer typhoons, the maximum wind speed of typhoons will increase by 2-11% and rainfall intensity in typhoons will increase by about 20% within 100 km of typhoon centers. Sea level will continue to rise by 1.2-5.9 inches by 2030, causing additional storm surges and coastal flooding. Finally, the acidity of sea water will continue to increase, further impacting the health of reef ecosystems.[4]

Learn more about Climate & Climate Impacts in FSM:

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History & Way of Life


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Photo Gallery

Want to know how to add photos to this gallery? Please see the Photo Gallery Tutorial.
Yap canoe; courtesy of the Yap Traditional Navigation Society

Stone Money; courtesy of ctsnow

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Tell Your Climate Story

You can share a story about how climate change is affecting your community in two ways

Add a Story using Facebook

Or Create a New Wiki Page with Pictures and Links

  1. Create a new wiki page
  2. Give it a title that includes your name
  3. Tag your page as Yap story.
  4. Tell us your story (you can even include pictures and links!)

Your new page will appear in the list of Yap Climate Stories here.

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  1. ^
  2. ^ Federated States of Micronesia National Weather Service Office, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, & Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. (2011). Changes in the Climate of the Federated States of Micronesia. Pacific Climate Change Science Program: Australia.
  3. ^ (Federated States of Micronesia National Weather Service Office, et al., 2011)
  4. ^ (Federated States of Micronesia National Weather Service Office, et al., 2011)