Island developing societies share common problems. Many of these are similar to those of small states and territories, or developing countries in general, although aggravated by transportation and communication difficulties. Unique problems are: exposure to the elements and natural disasters; ecological vulnerability to imported diseases of all types; and particular hardships in maintaining infrastructures in archipelago and multiple island states. Island countries may depend economically on the presence of foreign military bases, and because of difficulty of maintaining coastal defences, may be threatened by military intervention. Dozens of these countries and territories are remotely situated more than 500 kilometres from continents.
The Federated States of Micronesia are typical of Pacific islands powerless against climate change and environmental pollution. Most islands are barely 5 metres above sea level. Since 1985, cyclone devastation and saline penetration of freshwater due to rising sea levels has been added to seasonally irregular fishing patterns and unexplained dying of coral, threatening physical and cultural extinction.