A Fascinating History
Yap is believed to have been settled by seafaring people from the area today known as eastern Indonesia and the southern part of the Philippines sometime around 1500 B.C. By 1525 A.D. the Portuguese explorer Diego da Rocha arrived in Yap.
By this time the Yapese are well known among the indigenous people all over Oceania as expert sailors and navigators.
During the 1870s both Spain and Germany lay claim to Yap. Papal intervention by Leo XIII decides the issue in Spain’s favor, but by 1899 they sell Yap to Germany.
In 1919 the Japanese take control of Yap. They are to remain until the end of WWII when Yap is occupied by American forces.
Today Yap is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, which also contains Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. The FSM is a sovereign nation with a seat in the UN but is closely allied with the US through a Compact of Free Association adopted in 1986. Under the agreement, the FSM receives financial aid and various other benefits, such as the US Postal Service handling the mail. US Dollars are the official currency of the FSM.
English is widely spoken in Yap, even among the Yapese. There are no less than four major traditional languages: Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, and Satawalese. Yapese is spoken on Yap proper, the others on the outer islands.
The Yapese have managed to maintain their unique culture while selectively adopting desirable improvements from the west. Modern schools have created a very high level of literacy and good health care is readily available.
The people living on the northernmost of the four islands comprising Yap proper: Rumung have chosen to avoid contact with western civilization as much as possible. They generally do not encourage visitors, and have even removed the old bridge that connected Rumung to Yap proper!