Kosrae (prounounced “koo-shy”), is a rarely-visited little island (population estimated at less than 8,000) in the Federated States of Micronesia that is known for its dense vegetation, steep interior mountains and relaxed pace of life. Kosrae is likely to have been inhabited since the early part of the first millennium, though, other than an increasing number of “beachcombers,” as well as the ruthless pirate Bully Hayes, there was little colonial presence until the mid 1800s, when Western missionaries landed and prescribed religion as an antidote to the drinking and lawlessness that beachcombers had brought. More missionaries followed, and eventually Kosrae became a primarily Christian state. There was little Spanish settlement in Kosrae but the Spanish did sell the island to Germany as part of Spain’s deal for the Carolines in 1898. The Germans forced the population into labor on copra plantations and installed a cash economy. The Japanese took over during World War I and held Kosrae until the end of World War II. Kosrae now has a “Compact of Free Association” with the U.S. as part of the FSM.
Today Kosrae is quiet and devout; the Church plays an important role in daily life. If you go to Kosrae, dress relatively modestly and don’t plan that early champagne brunch for Sunday; drinking alcohol is forbidden on Sundays until noon.