The Caroline Islands are scattered over a wide area of sea, extending roughly from 3° To 10° North latitude and from 131° to 163° East longitude. This is a great sea area covering almost 1,300,000 square miles. However, the islands, which Bryan has estimated to number approximately 936, contribute very little dry land. The total land area in all these islands is estimated to be only 461 square miles. With only 36,000 people on the many islets scattered over this vast area, the establishment of communication to connect the many isolated islands becomes one of the major problems os the area.
The Caroline Islands have been called the New Philippines and the Carolinas in the past. For the smaller groups and individual islands the list of alternate names is almost endless. Various explorers in the past felt free to name islands that they had discovered or rediscovered. The general tendency today is to use the nativenames for the islands.
Politically the islands have been divided into the eastern and western Carolines aling meridian 148 west. The eastern Carolines are subdivided into the Truk District and the Ponape District for administrative purposes. Formerly the western Carolines were divided into the Palau District and the Yap District, but the two district have been consolidated into the Palau District for administration, although the former districts are sometimes referred to as areas. Each of these admiitrative centers fpr which the District are named is a high island and the largest of the district.