Western Kitti
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An Introduction to Western Kitti

Traditional paddle dance, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Outrigger canoe, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Asian waterbuffalo, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

The southwestern portion of Pohnpei Island, which now comprises the bulk of the chiefdom of Kitti (pronounced kĭ.chee), was known as Kohpwaleng until the defeat of Nan Madol in the mid-1600s, after which the area reverted to five independently-governed regions: Onohnleng, Pwoasoa, Lukop, Pehleng, and Kepihleng. The latter was ruled from Sapwtakai, a great stone fortress perched on top of a hill. Sometime around the mid-1700s, a rival clan seized Pehleng and Kepihleng, prompting Onohnleng and Lukop to join forces in an effort to regain control. With the help of a clever ruse, Onohnleng finally achieved victory, captured Sapwtakai, and united the five sections as the chiefdom of Kitti. The Soukisen Leng, high priest of a prominent religious cult in Onohnleng (now called Wene), became the first Nahnmwarki, or paramount chief, of the new district.

By the 1830s, whaling was big business in the Pacific and visits by foreign ships to Kitti’s harbors had become commonplace. Rascally beachcombers caused all sorts of mischief, distilling and selling liquor, thieving and raping, making and breaking trade deals with locals and each other, and murdering competitors whenever the mood took them. A number of legitimate traders also set up shop in Kitti, negotiated deals with local chiefs, and attempted to get rich (usually unsuccessfully).

The 1850s were characterized by a series of wars between Kitti and neighboring Madolenihmw that culminated in repeated victories for Kitti and the rise of the Nahnken Nanku as the true leader of the district. This period set the stage for the arrival of American Protestant missionaries, whose teachings would leave an indelible mark on the culture of Kitti and Madolenihmw, both of which are predominately Protestant to this day.

African tulip blossom, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Despite its tumultuous history, Kitti has retained a bucolic charm and is considered by many to be the heart of Pohnpeian tradition, ceremony, and spiritual belief. The chiefdom has its own unique dialect and exhibits a fondness for the use of the honorific language, usually only utilized in special situations elsewhere. Many things continue as they have for a century or more. Women still meet to wash clothes and gossip in the shady rivers. Many men still go out to fish, hunt Philippine sambar deer (Rusa marianna) in the mountains, or engage in the secret art of yam cultivation, while others commute to Kolonia for work. Huge, but gentle, water buffalo — brought by the Spanish to Pohnpei via the Philippines in the late 1800s — plod here and there, particularly in Salapwuk and Enipein, where they are used to haul breadfruit harvests or other goods on crude sledges.

Western Kitti Eco-Adventure Guide

This 18 x 20 inch (45.72 x 50.8 cm) full-color double-sided field guide folds down to 9 x 4 inches (22.86 x 10 cm) and covers the areas between the Sokehs-Kitti border and Kipar district, Kitti. It contains:

Western Kitti Eco-Adventure Guide Western Kitti Eco-Adventure Guide

Western Kitti Attractions

Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

The Six Waterfalls Hike

The Six Waterfalls Hike Because Pohnpei’s rainforested terrain is so challenging to move through, inexperienced hikers might think a jaunt into the wild interior of the island is out of reach. It isn’t. Almost anyone in relatively good physical condition can ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Sahwartik & Sahwarlap Waterfalls

Sahwartik & Sahwarlap Waterfalls Located on converging streams within Salapwuk’s deep Sahwar Gorge, Sahwartik and Sahwarlap are a pair of waterfalls whose splendor and grace defy reality. The wider falls is named Sahwarlap, which means “shining brightly,” and its tall, thin ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Pilen Seleur Eel Pools

Pilen Seleur Eel Pools in Pwudoi Waterfalls and mountains can be visited in many places, but the experience to be had at Pilen Seleur in Pwudoi is uniquely Pohnpeian. River pools on either side of the road are home to scores ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Dolen Uh & Other Treeless Hills

Treeless Hills & Fern Meadows One of the most visually distinctive features of the area between Pehleng and Pwudoi involves the fern meadows that crown the tops of several treeless hills on both sides of the main road. These features exist ...
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Sapwtakai and Other Prehistoric Cultural Sites & Ruins

Prehistoric Sites & Ruins in Kitti Map Guides >> Western Kitti >> Prehistoric Cultural Sites & Ruins in Kitti ...
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Fog envelopes the forest at the summit of Nahnalaud

Nahnalaud — the Big Mountain

Nahnalaud -- the Big Mountain The highest mountain in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is called Nahnalaud (which means "big mountain") and is located almost in the exact middle of Pohnpei Island. Pohnpeians consider the mountain sacred and regard it ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Black Coral Island

Black Coral Island "Black Coral" is the southernmost islet in the Namwmour chain of islands that straddles Kehpara Pass (Dauen Kehpara) on the southwest corner of Pohnpei's barrier reef. It's true name is said to be Kehpara, but hardly anyone calls ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Kehpara Island

Kehpara Island Though the name Kehpara probably refers to the island on the south side of Kehpara Pass (usually known as "Black Coral Island"), these days it's more often used to indicate the island immediately north of the pass. This island ...
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Pohnpei Diving – West Side Sites

West Side Dive Sites "Dauahk Wall" This drift-dive follows the outer barrier reef wall north of Kepidauen Dauahk. Things to see here include eagle rays, napoleon wrasse, gray reef sharks, and schools of dog-tooth tuna. 10-40 meters. Best on an in-coming tide ...
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Western Kitti GPS Data

Western Kitti GPS Data Downloads >> GPS Central >> Western Kitti GPS Data ...
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Men drinking sakau, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Drinking Sakau

In the evenings a great many people gather on their family’s property, in community houses (nahs), or at small roadside bars, called “markets,” to while away their time sipping Pohnpei’s potent ceremonial drink, sakau (known elsewhere as kava). The thick, earthy beverage is made by pounding the fresh roots of the locally-cultivated Indian pepper plant (Piper methysticum) and straining the sap through the fibrous inner bark of the wild hibiscus shrub. The result is a gooey brown substance that numbs the mouth and tongue on contact and renders drinkers mostly immobilized, while allowing them to retain a semi-clear head and participate in all manner of philosophical conversations. If you want to get a Pohnpeian to open up and really tell you about their culture, this is the way. However, be warned: if you’ve only had the Fijian or Hawaiian versions of kava, you may think you know what you’re getting into — but you don’t. Pohnpei’s sakau is many times stronger — strong enough that you may find it a challenge to operate your legs afterward.

Every visitor should try the experience at least once, and there are plenty of markets at which to do so, though drinking with a local friend’s family is the best option. If you do visit a market, select one where the roots are pounded on the spot and all the water used in the process is purified (or you many end up spending a lot of time on the toilet). You should also never drink sakau on an empty stomach.


Kalangan to Miller Benjamin, Relio Lengsi, and Danny Rosenkrans for helping to check Western Kitti’s place names for accuracy; Peterson Anson of Pohnpei Transportation & Infrastructure for helping to create the beautiful shaded relief on our maps; Danko Taborosi of Island Research & Education Initiative (IREI) for his considerable support and technical assistance; and the Australian Government for funding the production of this guide.

Eco-Adventure Map Guides >> Western Kitti