Marshall Islands

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The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is a Micronesian island nation in the western Pacific Ocean, located north of Nauru and Kiribati, east of the Federated States of Micronesia and south of the U.S. territory of Wake Island.

Aolepān Aorōkin M̧ajeļ
Republic of the Marshall Islands
Coat of arms of Marshall Islands
(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: n/a
Official languages Marshallese, English
Capital Majuro
President Kessai Note
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 187th
181 km²
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 185th
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 by Europeans 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 (including several more island groups in the South Sea).

The U.S. started conducting nuclear tests on the islands immediately after the war, continuing until the 1960s as the Pacific Proving Grounds. 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. The independence was formally completed under international law in 1990, when the UN officially ended the trust given to the USA.


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
Map of the Marshall Islands
Average temperature and pecipitations on Majuro
Average temperature and pecipitations on Majuro

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. Life on the outer atolls is generally still fairly traditional, and the nutrition of the rural population, being grown and caught, is superior that of most of the urban residents, who rely considerably on white rice.

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


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 under way 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.

The United States also maintains The U.S. Army's Reagan Test Site (RTS) on Kwajalein Atoll. It is an important aspect of the Marshallese economy, as the Marshallese land owners receive rent for the base, and a large number of Marshallese work on base.


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, although not fluently, Marshallese is used by the government. Japanese is also occasionally spoken in some areas of Marshall Islands.

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 stick and shell charts. They are also experienced in canoe building and still hold annual competitions involving the unique Oceanic sailing canoe, the proa.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Countries in Oceania
Australia : Australia · Norfolk Island
Melanesia : Fiji · New Caledonia · Papua New Guinea · Solomon Islands · Vanuatu
Micronesia : Guam · Kiribati · Marshall Islands · Northern Mariana Islands · Federated States of Micronesia · Nauru · Palau
Polynesia : American Samoa · Cook Islands · French Polynesia · New Zealand · Niue · Pitcairn · Samoa · Tokelau · Tonga · Tuvalu · Wallis and Futuna
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