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Biography

For other places with the same name, see Kolonia (disambiguation).Kolonia is a coastal town and the capital of Pohnpei State in the Federated States of Micronesia. Description, Kolonia Town lies on the north side of Pohnpei island. It was formerly part of Nett municipality, but is now a separate administrative district. The population of the town is 6,068 (2010). It is by far the largest population center on Pohnpei and the commercial center of the island. The land area of Kolonia amounts to 1.5 km², with a large number of buildings lying just outside the town limits. Kolonia's history is deeply marked by Pohnpei's multiple foreign occupiers. Traditionally, Pohnpei's power center was in Madolenihmw, on the southeastern part of the island. The area now known as Kolonia was called Mesenieng, which means "face of the wind" or "head wind." Spain first built the town in 1887 as an administrative and military capital and named it Santiago de la Ascensión. A fort, from which ruins known as the Spanish Wall still remain, was built in order to protect the island's colonial government from German invasion and from local people. In 1899, when Germany laid claim to Pohnpei along with the rest of the Caroline Islands, a few roads and buildings were erected, but the town remained relatively small. Few foreign settlers lived on the island at the time, although the German period did see Kolonia and much of the rest of Pohnpei leveled by a typhoon in 1905. Japan arrived at Pohnpei in 1914. Unlike previous occupiers, the Japanese administration oversaw thousands of settlers in addition to the local population. These settlers, most of whom were Okinawans, vastly expanded Kolonia and the local road system in addition to establishing several settlements elsewhere on the island. Eventually, a bustling town of over 900 buildings could be found. Visitors of the 1930s reported that they were able to walk under shopkeepers' overhangs from one end of Namiki Street (now Kaselelhie Street) to the other without getting wet in the rain. During World War II, virtually every building in Kolonia was destroyed as 118 tons of American bombs and some 600 incendiaries rained on the town. Because Pohnpei was a bypassed island during World War II, U.S. troops never landed and there was no ground fighting. The town was slowly rebuilt during the American administration, which ended with the approval of the FSM Constitution by referendum in 1978. Building in various parts of town continues today. Today, all of Kolonia's primary and secondary streets have been paved and street signs have been erected from one end of town to the other. Kolonia Town boasts grocery stores, restaurants, public and private schools, hotels, bars, and a variety of churches. Kolonia is also nearby Pohnpei International Airport (IATA: PNI), located on a small island connected to the town by causeway. A number of foreign volunteer groups operate in Kolonia, including the Peace Corps, the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV or JICA), WorldTeach, the Red Cross, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP), and Pacific Missionary Aviation (PMA)1. Kolonia should not be confused with Colonia, which is the capital of Yap State.

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