The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we call islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner lagoons, lovely beyond description.

PHYSICALLY, the sprawling South I Pacific archipelagoes of Micronesia almost live up to the lotusland evoked by James Michener. But paradise has problems. The population of about 100,000—cut by 50% in the last century by war, emigration and disease—inhabits fewer than 100 of the 2,141 Marshall, Mariana and Caroline islands. And these in turn comprise only 700 sq. mi. of land in 3,000,000...

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