Yap - Settlements



During the periods of heaviest population, the Yapese recognized over 180 separate villages. In recent years 91 of those villages contain at least one resident household, and the largest villages have forty to fifty households with up to 300 People in residence. Most of the inhabited villages lie in close proximity to the sea, and households are dispersed over a fairly large area along the shoreline. Since the construction of roads in the late 1960s and the extension of electricity along these roads in the late 1970s, many people are now building houses on the roads for accessibility to the town and to electricity. The largest villages are located in the administrative town of Colonia. These villages include inhabitants from all areas of the island. Rural villages are inhabited predominantly by people who are born or marry into them. Traditional Yapese villages are a marvel of stonework. Yapese houses are surrounded by stone platforms and are constructed on a coral stone foundation. Stone pathways connect houses in one section of the village to another. In the center of each village, a public meeting area and community house are marked by extensive, wide stone platforms for seating guests at public ceremonies and the large stone foundations for the traditional community house. Each village also has constructed taro patches, usually bounded by stone paths and stone retaining walls to contain the water for irrigating these swamp gardens. On the shoreline of many villages, men have built stone piers out into the water and the very large stone platforms on which men's houses have been Traditionally constructed. The contemporary Yapese house is generally made of plywood and corrugated metal with a planked or cement floor. Some of the more prosperous Yapese are building concrete-block or poured-concrete houses today because of the extensive termite damage to wooden structures. In sandy beach areas and in the urban center, many people build houses on posts, raised off the ground, closed in with bamboo or plywood, and covered with corrugated iron.

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