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Marshall Islands

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, located north of Nauru and Kiribati, east of the Federated States of Micronesia and south of the U.S. island of Wake.

Republic of the Marshall Islands
(In Detail)
Official languages Marshallese, English
Capital Majuro
President Kessai Note
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 187th
181 km²

 - Total (2003)

 - Density
Ranked 186th


Independence October 21, 1986
Currency US dollar
Time zone UTC + 12
National anthem Forever Marshall Islands
Internet TLD .MH
Calling Code 692


Main article: History of the Marshall Islands

While settled by Micronesians in the 2nd millennium BC, little is known of the early history of the islands. Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar was the first European to sight the Marshalls, but the islands remained virtually unvisited for several more centuries, before being visited by English captain John Marshall in 1788; the islands owe their name to him.

A German trading company settled on the islands in 1885, and they became part of the protectorate of German New Guinea some years later. Japan conquered the islands in World War I, and administered them as a League of Nations mandate.

In World War II, the United States invaded the islands (1944), and they were added to the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The U.S. started conducting nuclear tests on the islands immediately after the war, continuing until the 1960s. Many Marshallese suffered from high radiation levels because of this, and compensation claims still continue to this day.

In 1979 the Republic of the Marshall Islands was established and a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. government was signed, becoming effective in 1986.


Main article: Politics of the Marshall Islands

The Marshallese president is both head of state and head of government. The president, who is elected by and from the members of the Nitijela (parliament), appoints his own cabinet.

Elections for the parliament, which has 33 seats, are held every four years.


Main article: Municipalities of the Marshall Islands

Map of the Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands are divided into 24 legislative districts, which correspond to the inhabited islands and atolls of the country. See #Geography.


Main article: Geography of the Marshall Islands

The country consists of 29 atolls and 5 isolated islands. The most important atolls and islands form two groups: the Ratak Chain and the Ralik Chain (meaning "sunrise" and "sunset" chains). Two-thirds of the nation's population lives on Majuro (which is also the capital) and Ebeye. The outer islands are sparsely populated due to lack of employment opportunities and economic development.

The climate is hot and humid, with a wet season from May to November. The islands occasionally suffer from typhoons.

  • Ailinginae Atoll (uninhabited)
  • Ailinglaplap Atoll (legislative district)
  • Ailuk Atoll (legislative district)
  • Arno (legislative district)
  • Aur Atoll (legislative district)
  • Bikar Atoll (or Bikaar; uninhabited)
  • Bikini Atoll
  • Bokak Atoll (uninhabited)
  • Ebon Atoll (legislative district)
  • Enewetak Atoll (legislative district)
  • Erikub Atoll (uninhabited)
  • Jabat Island (legislative district)
  • Jaluit Atoll (legislative district)
  • Jemo Island (uninhabited)
  • Kili Island (legislative district)
  • Kwajalein Atoll (legislative district)
  • Lae Atoll (legislative district)
  • Lib Island (legislative district)
  • Likiep Atoll (legislative district)
  • Majuro Atoll (legislative district)
  • Maloelap Atoll (legislative district)
  • Mejit Island (legislative district)
  • Mili Atoll (legislative district)
  • Nadikdik Atoll (or Knox; uninhabited)
  • Namorik Atoll (or Namdrik; legislative district )
  • Namu Atoll (legislative district)
  • Rongelap Atoll (legislative district)
  • Rongerik Atoll (uninhabited)
  • Toke Atoll (uninhabited)
  • Ujae Atoll (legislative district)
  • Ujelang Atoll (uninhabited)
  • Utirik Atoll (or Utrik; legislative district)
  • Wotho Atoll (legislative district)
  • Wotje Atoll (legislative district)


Main article: Economy of the Marshall Islands

United States Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. Agricultural production is concentrated on small farms, and the most important commercial crops are coconuts, tomatoes, melons, and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, fish processing, and copra. The tourist industry, now a small source of foreign exchange employing less than 10% of the labor force, remains the best hope for future added income. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. Under the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the US provides roughly $65 million in annual aid. Negotiations were underway in 1999 for an extended agreement. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, and the decline in tourism and foreign investment due to the Asian financial difficulties caused GDP to fall in 1996-98.


Main article: Demographics of the Marshall Islands

The Marshallese are of Micronesian origin and migrated from Asia several thousand years ago. Although English is an official language and is spoken widely, Marshallese is used by the government.

Virtually all Marshallese are Christian, most of them Protestant.


Main article: Culture of the Marshall Islands

Although now in decline, the Marshallese were once able navigators, using the stars and primitive stick and shell charts. They are also experienced in canoe building,

Miscellaneous topics

External Links

Countries in Oceania
Australia | East Timor | Fiji | Kiribati | Marshall Islands | Federated States of Micronesia | Nauru | New Zealand | Palau | Papua New Guinea | Samoa | Solomon Islands | Tonga | Tuvalu | Vanuatu
Other political units: American Samoa | Cook Islands | Easter Island | French Polynesia | Guam | Hawaii | Maluku Islands | Midway Atoll | New Caledonia | Niue | Norfolk Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Papua (Indonesia) | Pitcairn Islands | Tokelau | Wake Island | Wallis and Futuna | West Timor

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45