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The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) ˈmɑrʃəl ˈaɪləndz , ha, is a Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

n nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182. In 1986, independence was attained under a Compact of Free Association
Compact of Free Association
The Compact of Free Association defines the relationship that three sovereign states—the Federated States of Micronesia , the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau—have entered into as associated states with the United States.Now sovereign nations, the three freely associated...

 with the United States.

History


The Marshall Islands were settled by Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

ns in the 2nd millennium BC. Little is known of this early history. People traveled by canoe between islands using traditional stick charts.

Spanish exploration


Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 explorer Alonso de Salazar
Alonso de Salazar
Alonso de Salazar was the Spaniard who discovered the Marshall Islands on August 21, 1526. De Salazar was in command of Santa Maria de la Victoria but is not known to have landed. He is believed to have sighted the Bokak Atoll...

 was the first Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an to see the islands in 1526, commanding the ship "Santa Maria de la Victoria", the only surviving vessel of Loaísa Expedition. On August 21, he sighted an island at 14°N that they named "San Bartolome" (probably Taongi).

On September 21, 1529, Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón
Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón
Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón was one of the Spanish explorers in the Pacific Ocean. It is unknown the exact date and place of birth, but known to be born in the late 15th century or 16th century in Spain...

 commanded the Spanish ship "Florida", on his second attempt to recross the Pacific from the Moluccas. He stood off a group of islands from which several natives came off and hurled stones at his ship. These islands, named by him "Los Pintados," may have been Ujelang. On October 1, he found another group of islands where he went ashore for eight days, exchanged gifts with natives and took on water. These islands, "Los Jardines," could be Eniwetok or Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll is an atoll, listed as a World Heritage Site, in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean, part of Republic of the Marshall Islands....

.

The Spanish ship "San Pedro" and two other vessels in expedition commanded by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador who established one of the first European settlements in the East Indies and the Pacific Islands in 1565. He is the first Governor-General in the Philippines...

 on January 9, discovered an island at 10°N where they went ashore and traded with natives and named it "Los Barbudos" (possibly Mejit
Mejit
Mejit is an island in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Unlike most of the other islands of the Marshall Islands, Mejit is a stony island rather than a coral atoll, although it is surrounded by a fringing coral reef enclosing a narrow...

). On January 10, they sighted another island that they named "Placeres" (perhaps Ailuk), ten leagues away, they sighted another island that they called "Pajares" (perhaps Jemo
Jemo Island
Jemo Island Atoll is an uninhabited coral island in the Pacific Ocean, in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands north-east of Likiep Atoll. The island is oval-shaped, and occupies the southwestern end of a narrow submarine ridge that extends to the northeast for several kilometers. Its total...

). On January 12, they sighted another island at 10°N which they called "Corrales" (possibly Wotho). On January 15, another low island was sighted at 10°N (perhaps Ujelang) where they made a good description of the people on "Barbudos."
After that, ships like "San Jeronimo", "Los Reyes", "Todos los Santos" also visited the islands in different years.

Other European expeditions


Captain John Charles Marshall
John Marshall (British captain)
Captain John Marshall was born in Ramsgate, Kent, England on 15 February 1748. Having been bound apprentice at the age of ten he spent his life at sea...

 together with Thomas Gilbert
Thomas Gilbert (captain)
Thomas Gilbert was an 18th century British mariner.Thomas Gilbert and John Marshall were the captains of two East India Company vessels, the Charlotte and the Scarborough, returning from carrying convicts to Botany Bay in 1788, when they sailed through the Gilbert Islands and described Aranuka,...

 came to the islands in 1788. The islands were named after the first in the Russian (Krusenstern
Adam Johann von Krusenstern
Adam Johann Ritter von Krusenstern , was an admiral and explorer, who led the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe.- Life :...

) and French (Duperrey
Louis Isidore Duperrey
Louis Isidore Duperrey was a French sailor and explorer.Duperrey joined the navy in 1800, and served as marine hydrologist to Louis Claude de Saulces de Freycinet aboard the Uranie...

) maps (1820), later in the English maps. However, they were claimed under the Spanish sovereignty as part of the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

. In 1874, the Spanish sovereignty was recognized by the international community. They were sold to Germany in 1884 through papal mediation.

A German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 trading company settled on the islands in 1885. They became part of the protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 of German New Guinea
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

 some years later.

World War I



Under German Imperial
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 control, and even before then, Japanese traders and fishermen from time to time visited the Marshall Islands, although contact with the islanders was irregular. After the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

, the Japanese government adopted a policy of turning Japan into a great economic and military power in East Asia.

In 1914, Japan joined the Entente powers
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and found it possible to capture German colonies in China and Micronesia. On September 29, 1914, Japanese troops occupied the atoll of Enewetak, and on September 30, 1914 the atoll of Jaluit the administrative center of the Marshall Islands. After the war, on June 28, 1919, Germany renounced all its Pacific possessions, including the Marshall Islands. On December 17, 1920, the Council of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 approved the mandate for Japan to take over all former German colonies in the Pacific Ocean located north of the equator. The Administrative Center of the Marshall Islands atoll remained Jaluit.

The Japanese were unlike the German Empire, which had primarily economic interests in Micronesia. Despite its small area and few resources, the absorption of the territory by Japan would to some extent alleviate Japan's problem of an increasing population but an ever decreasing amount of available land to house it. During its years of colonial rule, Japan moved more than 1,000 Japanese to the Marshall Islands although they never outnumbered the indigenous peoples as they did in the Mariana Islands and Palau.

The Japanese enlarged administration and appointed local leaders, which weakened the authority of local traditional leaders. Japan also tried to change the social organization in the islands from Matrilineality
Matrilineality
Matrilineality is a system in which descent is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. Matrilineality is also a societal system in which one belongs to one's matriline or mother's lineage, which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles.A matriline is a line of descent from a...

 to the Japanese Patriarchal
Patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

 system, but with no success. Moreover, during the 1930s, one third of all land up to the high water level was declared the property of the Japanese government. On the archipelago, before it banned foreign traders, the activities of Catholic and Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 missionaries
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 were allowed.
Indigenous people were educated in Japanese schools, and studied Japanese language and Japanese culture. This policy was the government strategy not only in the Marshall Islands, but on all the other mandated territories in Micronesia. On March 27, 1933, Japan left the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

, but nevertheless continued to manage the islands in the region and in the late 1930s, and started constructing air bases on several atolls.
The Marshall Islands were in an important geographical position, being the easternmost point in Japan's defensive ring at the beginning of World War II.

World War II



In the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kwajalein Atoll was the administrative center of the Japanese 6th Fleet Forces Service
IJN 6th Fleet
The was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, primarily responsible for command of submarine operations.-History:The IJN 6th Fleet was formed on 15 November 1940, and was assigned general control of all Japanese submarine operations...

, whose task was the defense of the Marshall Islands.

In World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign
Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign
In the Pacific Theater of World War II, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, from November 1943 through February 1944, were key strategic operations of the United States Pacific Fleet and Marine Corps in the Central Pacific. The campaign was preceded by a raid on Makin Island by U.S...

, invaded and occupied the islands in 1944, destroying or isolating the Japanese garrisons. The archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 was added to the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was a United Nations trust territory in Micronesia administered by the United States from 1947 to 1986.-History:...

, along with several other island groups in the South Sea.

The battle in the Marshall Islands caused irreparable damage, especially on Japanese bases. During the American bombing, the islands' population suffered from lack of food and various injuries.

U.S. attacks started in mid-1943, and caused half the Japanese garrison of 5,100 people in the atoll Mili
Mili Atoll
Mili Atoll is a coral atoll of 92 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. It is located approximately southeast of Arno Its total land area is making it the second largest of the Marshall Islands after Kwajalein. It encloses a...

 to die from hunger by August 1945. In just one month in 1944, Americans captured Kwajalein Atoll, Majuro and Enewetak, and in the next two months the rest of the Marshall Islands except Wotje, Mili, Maloelap and Jaluit.

Nuclear tests after World War II




From 1946 to 1958, as the site of the Pacific Proving Grounds
Pacific Proving Grounds
The Pacific Proving Grounds was the name used to describe a number of sites in the Marshall Islands and a few other sites in the Pacific Ocean, used by the United States to conduct nuclear testing at various times between 1946 and 1962...

, the U.S. tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, including the largest nuclear test the U.S. ever conducted, Castle Bravo
Castle Bravo
Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device, detonated on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, as the first test of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States ,...

. In 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

 regarded the Marshall Islands as "by far the most contaminated place in the world".

Nuclear claims between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands are ongoing, and health effects from these nuclear tests linger. Project 4.1
Project 4.1
Project 4.1 was the designation for a medical study conducted by the United States of those residents of the Marshall Islands exposed to radioactive fallout from the March 1, 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, which had an unexpectedly large yield...

 was a medical study conducted by the United States of those residents of the Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll is an atoll, listed as a World Heritage Site, in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean, part of Republic of the Marshall Islands....

 exposed to radioactive fallout
Nuclear fallout
Fallout is the residual radioactive material propelled into the upper atmosphere following a nuclear blast, so called because it "falls out" of the sky after the explosion and shock wave have passed. It commonly refers to the radioactive dust and ash created when a nuclear weapon explodes...

. From 1956 to August 1998, at least $759 million was paid to the Marshallese Islanders in compensation for their exposure to U.S. nuclear testing.

With the 1952 test of the first U.S. hydrogen bomb, code named "Ivy Mike
Ivy Mike
Ivy Mike was the codename given to the first United States test of a thermonuclear weapon, in which a major part of the explosive yield came from nuclear fusion. It was detonated on November 1, 1952 by the United States at on Enewetak, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, as part of Operation Ivy...

", the island of Elugelab
Elugelab
Elugelab was an island, part of the Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands. It was destroyed by the world's first test of a hydrogen bomb on 1 November 1952, as part of Operation Ivy...

 in the Enewetak
Enewetak
Enewetak Atoll is a large coral atoll of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its land area totals less than , surrounding a deep central lagoon, in circumference...

 atoll was destroyed.

Independence


In 1979, the Government of the Marshall Islands was officially established and the country became self-governing.

In 1986, the Compact of Free Association
Compact of Free Association
The Compact of Free Association defines the relationship that three sovereign states—the Federated States of Micronesia , the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau—have entered into as associated states with the United States.Now sovereign nations, the three freely associated...

 with the United States entered into force, granting the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) its sovereignty. The Compact provided for aid and U.S. defense of the islands in exchange for continued U.S. military use of the missile testing range at Kwajalein Atoll. The independence procedure was formally completed under international law in 1990, when the UN officially ended the Trusteeship status.

Government



The government of the Marshall Islands operates under a mixed parliamentary-presidential system as set forth in its Constitution. Elections are held every four years in universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 (for all citizens above 18), with each of the twenty-four constituencies (see below) electing one or more representatives (senators) to the lower house of RMI’s bicameral legislature
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

, the Nitijela. (Majuro
Majuro
Majuro , is a large coral atoll of 64 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. The atoll itself has a land area of and encloses a lagoon of...

, the capital atoll, elects five senators.) The President, who is head of state as well as head of government, is elected by the 33 senators of the Nitijela. Four of the five Marshallese presidents who have been elected since the Constitution was adopted in 1979 have been traditional paramount chief
Paramount chief
A paramount chief is the highest-level traditional chief or political leader in a regional or local polity or country typically administered politically with a chief-based system. This definition is used occasionally in anthropological and archaeological theory to refer to the rulers of multiple...

s.

Legislative power lies with the Nitijela. The upper house of Parliament, called the Council of Iroij, is an advisory body comprising twelve tribal chiefs. The executive branch consists of the President and the Presidential Cabinet, which consists of ten ministers appointed by the President with the approval of the Nitijela. The twenty-four electoral districts into which the country is divided correspond to the inhabited islands and atoll
Atoll
An atoll is a coral island that encircles a lagoon partially or completely.- Usage :The word atoll comes from the Dhivehi word atholhu OED...

s. There are currently three political parties in the Marshall Islands: Aelon Kein Ad (AKA), United People's Party (UPP), and United Democratic Party
United Democratic Party (Marshall Islands)
The United Democratic Party is a political party in the Marshall Islands. At the last legislative elections, 17 November 2003, no parties participated, though part of the members could be members of either the Kabua Party or the United Democratic Party....

 (UDP). Rule is shared by the UDP and the UPP. The following senators are in the legislative body:
  • Ailinglaplap Atoll
    Ailinglaplap Atoll
    Ailinglaplap or Ailinglapalap is a coral atoll of 56 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain in the Marshall Islands. It is located northwest of Jaluit Atoll. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon of...

     - Christopher J. Loeak (AKA), Ruben R. Zackhras (UDP)
  • Ailuk Atoll
    Ailuk Atoll
    Ailuk Atoll is a coral atoll of 57 islets in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. It is located approximately north from Wotje. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of...

     - Maynard Alfred (UDP)
  • Arno Atoll
    Arno Atoll
    Arno Atoll is a coral atoll of 133 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only . Unlike most other atolls, Arno encloses three different lagoons, a large central one, and two smaller ones in the north and...

     - Nidel Lorak (UPP), Gerald M. Zackios (UDP)
  • Aur Atoll
    Aur Atoll
    Aur Atoll is a coral atoll of 42 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of...

     - Norman Matthew (UPP)
  • Ebon Atoll
    Ebon Atoll
    Ebon Atoll is a coral atoll of 22 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a deep lagoon with an area of . A passage leads to the lagoon from the southwest edge of the atoll. The...

     - John M. Silk (UDP)
  • Enewetak Atoll
    Enewetak
    Enewetak Atoll is a large coral atoll of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its land area totals less than , surrounding a deep central lagoon, in circumference...

     - Jack Ading (UPP)
  • Jabat Island
    Jabat Island
    Jabat Island is an island in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , and has a length of . It is located from Ailinglapalap Atoll...

    - Kessai H. Note (UDP)
  • Jaluit Atoll
    Jaluit Atoll
    Jaluit Atoll is a large coral atoll of 91 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of . Most of the land area is on largest islet of Jaluit . Jaluit is located...

     - Rien R. Morris (UDP), Speaker Alvin T. Jacklick (UDP)
  • Kili Island
    Kili Island
    Kili Island or Kili Atoll is a coral atoll located in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. It is approximately southwest of Jaluit...

     - Tomaki Juda (UDP)
  • Kwajalein Atoll - Michael Kabua (AKA), Tony A. deBrum (AKA), Jeban Riklon (AKA)
  • Lae Atoll
    Lae Atoll
    Lae Atoll is a coral atoll of 20 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of...

     - Rellong D. Lemari (AKA)
  • Lib Island
    Lib Island
    Lib Island is an island in the Pacific Ocean. It is a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is 0.93 sq. km. .The population of Lib Island is 115.-Reference:*...

     - Jerakoj Jerry Bejang (AKA)
  • Likiep Atoll
    Likiep Atoll
    Likiep Atoll is a coral atoll of 65 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. It is located approximately northwest of Wotje. Its total land area is only , but that encloses a deep central lagoon of . Likiep Atoll also possesses the...

     - Donald F. Capelle (UDP)
  • Majuro Atoll - Wilfred I. Kendall (UDP), David Kramer (IND), Brenson S. Wase (UDP), Vice Speaker Alik J. Alik (UDP), 'H.E. President Jurelang Zedkaia' (UDP)
  • Maloelap Atoll
    Maloelap Atoll
    The Maloelap Atoll is a coral atoll of 71 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its land area is only,. but that encloses a lagoon of . It is located north of the atoll of Aur...

     - Michael Konelios (UDP)
  • Mejit Island
    Mejit
    Mejit is an island in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Unlike most of the other islands of the Marshall Islands, Mejit is a stony island rather than a coral atoll, although it is surrounded by a fringing coral reef enclosing a narrow...

     - Dennis Momotaro (UPP)
  • Mili Atoll
    Mili Atoll
    Mili Atoll is a coral atoll of 92 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. It is located approximately southeast of Arno Its total land area is making it the second largest of the Marshall Islands after Kwajalein. It encloses a...

     - Kejjo Bien (UPP)
  • Namdrik Atoll
    Namdrik Atoll
    Namdrik Atoll or Namorik Atoll is a coral atoll of two islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of .Namdrik Atoll is located approximately west-southwest of...

     - Mattlan Zackhras (UDP)
  • Namu Atoll
    Namu Atoll
    Namu Atoll is a coral atoll of 54 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but that encloses a lagoon of...

     - Kaiboke Kabua (AKA)
  • Rongelap Atoll
    Rongelap Atoll
    Rongelap Atoll or Namorik Atoll is a coral atoll of 61 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of...

     - Kenneth Kedi (IND)
  • Ujae Atoll
    Ujae Atoll
    Ujae Atoll is a coral atoll of 15 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon of...

     - Frederick H. Muller (UPP)
  • Utirik Atoll
    Utirik Atoll
    Utirik Atoll or Utrik Atoll is a coral atoll of 10 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of...

     - Amenta Matthew (IND)
  • Wotho Atoll
    Wotho Atoll
    Wotho Atoll is a coral atoll of 13 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon of...

     - David Kabua (AKA)
  • Wotje Atoll
    Wotje Atoll
    Wotje Atoll is a coral atoll of 75 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Wotje's land area of , is one the largest in the Marshall Islands, and encloses a lagoon of . The atoll is oriented east and west and is at its longest...

     - Litokwa Tomeing (UPP)

Foreign affairs and defense



The Compact of Free Association with the United States gives the U.S. sole responsibility for international defense of the Marshall Islands. It allows islanders to live and work in the United States, and establishes economic and technical aid programs.

Geography





The islands are located north of Nauru
Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

 and Kiribati
Kiribati
Kiribati , officially the Republic of Kiribati, is an island nation located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The permanent population exceeds just over 100,000 , and is composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, straddling the...

, east of the Federated States of Micronesia
Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia or FSM is an independent, sovereign island nation, made up of four states from west to east: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. It comprises approximately 607 islands with c...

, and south of the U.S. territory of Wake Island
Wake Island
Wake Island is a coral atoll having a coastline of in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu west to Guam east. It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior...

, to which it lays claim.

The country consists of 29 atoll
Atoll
An atoll is a coral island that encircles a lagoon partially or completely.- Usage :The word atoll comes from the Dhivehi word atholhu OED...

s and 5 isolated islands. The atolls and islands form two groups: the Ratak Chain
Ratak Chain
The Ratak Chain is a chain of islands within the island nation of the Marshall Islands. Ratak means "sunrise". It lies just to the east of the country's other main island chain, the Ralik Chain...

 and the Ralik Chain
Ralik Chain
The Ralik Chain is a chain of islands within the island nation of the Marshall Islands. Ralik means "sunset". It lies just to the west of the country's other island chain, the Ratak Chain...

 (meaning "sunrise" and "sunset" chains).
24 of them are inhabited (see above section). The uninhabited atolls are:
  • Ailinginae Atoll
    Ailinginae Atoll
    Ailinginae Atoll is a coral atoll of 25 islands in the Pacific Ocean, on the northern end of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon of . It is located approximately west of Rongelap Atoll. The landscape is low-lying with only the top few...

  • Bikar (Bikaar) Atoll
    Bikar Atoll
    Bikar Atoll is an uninhabited atoll in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. It is one of the smallest atolls in the Marshalls and located at...

  • Bikini Atoll
    Bikini Atoll
    Bikini Atoll is an atoll, listed as a World Heritage Site, in the Micronesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean, part of Republic of the Marshall Islands....

  • Bokak Atoll
    Bokak Atoll
    Bokak Atoll or Taongi Atoll is an uninhabited coral atoll in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands, located in the North Pacific Ocean at...

  • Erikub Atoll
    Erikub Atoll
    Erikub Atoll is an uninhabited coral atoll of six islands in the Pacific Ocean, located in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of . It is located slightly south of Wotje.-History:Erikub Atoll was claimed by the Empire of...

  • Jemo Island
    Jemo Island
    Jemo Island Atoll is an uninhabited coral island in the Pacific Ocean, in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands north-east of Likiep Atoll. The island is oval-shaped, and occupies the southwestern end of a narrow submarine ridge that extends to the northeast for several kilometers. Its total...

  • Nadikdik Atoll
  • Rongerik Atoll
    Rongerik Atoll
    Rongerik Atoll or Rongdrik Atoll is a coral atoll of 17 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and is located in the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands, approximately east of Bikini Atoll. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon of .-History:Rongerik Atoll was claimed by the Empire of...

  • Toke Atoll
    Toke Atoll
    Toke Atoll or Taka Atoll is a small, uninhabited coral atoll in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. It is one of the smaller atolls in the Marshalls and located at . It is visited regularly by the residents of nearby Utirik Atoll.- Geography :The atoll is north of Majuro Atoll, the capital...

  • Ujelang Atoll
    Ujelang Atoll
    Ujelang Atoll is a coral atoll of 30 islands in the Pacific Ocean, in the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon of...



A majority of the islands' land mass is at sea level.

Shark sanctuary


In October 2011 the government declared that an area covering nearly 2000000 square kilometres (772,204.3 sq mi) of ocean shall be reserved as a shark sanctuary. This is the worlds largest shark sanctuary, extending the worldwide ocean area sharks are protected in from 2700000 square kilometres (1,042,475.8 sq mi) to 4600000 square kilometres (1,776,069.9 sq mi). In protected waters all shark fishing is banned and all bycatch must be released. However, the ability of the Marshall Islands to enforce this zone has been questioned.

Territorial claim on Wake Island


The Marshall Islands also lays claim to Wake Island
Wake Island
Wake Island is a coral atoll having a coastline of in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu west to Guam east. It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior...

. While Wake has long been administered by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the Marshallese government refers to it by the name Enen-kio.

Climate



The climate is hot and humid, with a wet season
Wet season
The the wet season, or rainy season, is the time of year, covering one or more months, when most of the average annual rainfall in a region occurs. The term green season is also sometimes used as a euphemism by tourist authorities. Areas with wet seasons are dispersed across portions of the...

 from May to November. The islands occasionally suffer from typhoons. Many Pacific typhoons start in the Marshall Islands region and grow stronger as they move west toward the Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands
The Mariana Islands are an arc-shaped archipelago made up by the summits of 15 volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east...

 and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

.

Climate-related emergencies


In December 2008, the Islands were pounded several times in quick succession by long period swell waves generated by an extratropical storm. These extreme waves combined with high tides, causing widespread flooding in the capital city of Majuro and other urban centres, located at 1 metres (3.3 ft) above sea level. On Christmas morning, the government declared a state of emergency.

Economy



The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports.

General economic conditions


Over the past decade, GDP growth averaged 1% due to government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, the decline in tourism and foreign investment due to Asian financial difficulties, and less income from the renewal of fishing-vessel licenses. The 2007 edition of "Doing Business," prepared by the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

's private sector development department, declared the Marshall Islands to be the world's "Best Performer" for its ease and low expense in hiring and firing employees. But the study gave the Marshall Islands extremely low ratings for its protection of investors and contract enforcement.

Labor


In 2007, the Marshall Islands joined the International Labor Organization, which means its labor laws will comply with international benchmarks. This will impact business conditions in the islands.

Taxation


The income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

 has two brackets, with rates of 8% and 14%. The corporate tax
Corporate tax
Many countries impose corporate tax or company tax on the income or capital of some types of legal entities. A similar tax may be imposed at state or lower levels. The taxes may also be referred to as income tax or capital tax. Entities treated as partnerships are generally not taxed at the...

 is 11.5%. The general sales tax
Sales tax
A sales tax is a tax, usually paid by the consumer at the point of purchase, itemized separately from the base price, for certain goods and services. The tax amount is usually calculated by applying a percentage rate to the taxable price of a sale....

 is 6%. There are no property taxes.

Foreign assistance


United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government assistance is the mainstay of the economy.

Under the terms of the Amended Compact of Free Association
Compact of Free Association
The Compact of Free Association defines the relationship that three sovereign states—the Federated States of Micronesia , the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau—have entered into as associated states with the United States.Now sovereign nations, the three freely associated...

, the U.S. will provide US$57.7 million per year to the Marshall Islands (RMI) through 2013, and then US$62.7 million through 2023, at which time a trust fund, made up of U.S. and RMI contributions, will begin perpetual annual payouts.

The United States Army maintains its Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site
Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site
The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, commonly referred to as the Reagan Test Site , is a missile test range in the Pacific Ocean. It covers about and includes rocket launch sites at the Kwajalein Atoll , Wake Island, and Aur Atoll. It primarily functions as a test facility for U.S...

 on Kwajalein
Kwajalein
Kwajalein Atoll , is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands . The southernmost and largest island in the atoll is named Kwajalein Island. English-speaking residents of the U.S...

 Atoll. Marshallese land owners receive rent for the base, and a large number of Marshallese work there. The main airport was built by the Japanese during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and the only tarmac road of the capital was built partly by the Taiwanese
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 and partly by the Americans.

Agriculture


Agricultural production is concentrated on small farms. The most-important commercial crops are coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

s, tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

es, melon
Melon
thumb|200px|Various types of melonsThis list of melons includes members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae with edible, fleshy fruit e.g. gourds or cucurbits. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit...

s, and breadfruit
Breadfruit
Breadfruit is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry family, Moraceae, growing throughout Southeast Asia and most Pacific Ocean islands...

.

Tourism


The tourist industry, a source of foreign exchange employs less than 10% of the labor force.

Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines was a major American airline now merged with United Airlines. On May 3, 2010, Continental Airlines, Inc. and UAL, Inc. announced a merger via a stock swap, and on October 1, 2010, the merger closed and UAL changed its name to United Continental Holdings, Inc...

 serves Majuro and Kwajalein with flights to and from Honolulu, and has been doing so since before 1970.

Fishing


Fishing has been critical to the economy of this island nation since its settlement.

In 1999, a private company built a tuna
Tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

 loining plant with more than 400 employees, mostly women. But the plant closed in 2005, after a failed attempt to convert it to produce tuna steaks, a process that requires half as many employees. Operating costs exceeded revenue, and the plant's owners tried to partner with the government to prevent closure. But government officials personally interested in an economic stake in the plant refused to help. After the plant closed, it was taken over by the government, which had been the guarantor of a $2 million loan to the business.

Energy


On September 15, 2007, Witon Barry (of the Tobolar Copra processing plant in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro
Majuro
Majuro , is a large coral atoll of 64 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. The atoll itself has a land area of and encloses a lagoon of...

) said power authorities, private companies, and entrepreneurs had been experimenting with coconut oil
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm . Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry...

 as alternative to diesel fuel for vehicles, power generators
Electricity generation
Electricity generation is the process of generating electric energy from other forms of energy.The fundamental principles of electricity generation were discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist Michael Faraday...

, and ships. Coconut tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s abound in the Pacific's tropical islands. Copra
Copra
Copra is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut. Coconut oil extracted from it has made copra an important agricultural commodity for many coconut-producing countries. It also yields coconut cake which is mainly used as feed for livestock.-Production:...

, the meat of the coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

, yields coconut oil (1 liter
Litér
- External links :*...

 for every 6 to 10 coconuts).

On July 3, 2008, the government of the Marshall Islands declared a state of emergency related to energy shortages due to a lack of financial reserves and unusually high energy costs.

Demographics



There are 68,000 people living in the Marshall Islands. Most of these are Marshallese. The Marshallese are of Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

n origin and migrated from Asia several thousand years ago. A minority of Marshallese have some recent Asian ancestry, mainly Japanese
Japanese settlement in the Marshall Islands
Japanese settlement in the Marshall Islands was spurred on by Japanese trade in the Pacific region. The first Japanese explorers arrived in the Marshall Islands in the late 19th century, although permanent settlements were not established until the 1920s. As compared to other Micronesian islands in...

. Two-thirds of the nation's population lives on Majuro
Majuro
Majuro , is a large coral atoll of 64 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. The atoll itself has a land area of and encloses a lagoon of...

, the capital, and Ebeye
Ebeye
Ebeye is the most populous island of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, as well as the center for Marshallese culture in the Ralik Chain of the archipelago. Settled on 80 acres of land, it has a population of more than 15,000. Over 50% of the population is estimated to be under the age of...

. The outer islands are sparsely populated due to lack of employment opportunities and economic development. Life on the outer atolls is generally traditional.

The official language of the Marshall Islands is Marshallese
Marshallese language
The Marshallese language is a Malayo-Polynesian language of the Marshall Islands, and the principal language of the country...

, but is common to speak the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

.

Religion



Virtually all Marshallese are Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Most of them are Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

.

Education


The Marshall Islands Ministry of Education operates the state schools in the Marshall Islands.

There are 2 colleges operating in the Marshall Islands. The College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) and The University of the South Pacific.

Transportation



The Marshall Islands are served by the Marshall Islands International Airport
Marshall Islands International Airport
Marshall Islands International Airport , also known as Amata Kabua International Airport, is an airport located in the western part of Rairok on the south side of Majuro Atoll, the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The airport was built sometime after World War II on Anenelibw and...

 in Majuro, the Bucholz Army Airfield
Bucholz Army Airfield
Bucholz Army Airfield is a United States Army airfield located on Kwajalein Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Its position is ideal for refueling during trans-Pacific flights, and the airport is available to civilians through Air Marshall Islands and Continental Airlines, and formerly...

 in Kwajalein, and other small airports and airstrips.

In 2005, Aloha Airlines
Aloha Airlines
Aloha Airlines was an American airline headquartered in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, operating from a hub at Honolulu International Airport...

 canceled its flight services to the Marshall Islands.

Media


The Marshall Islands have several AM and FM radio stations.

AM: V7AD 1098 • 1557

FM: V7AD 97.9 • V7AA 104.1 (formerly 96.3)

AFRTS: AM 1224 (NPR) • 99.9 (Country) • 101.1 (Active Rock) • 102.1 (Hot AC)

Health


The Marshall Islands has a low rate of leprosy
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

. Nuclear tests at Enewatak have left islanders there suffering from Cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 and birth defects.

Culture



Marshallese
Marshallese language
The Marshallese language is a Malayo-Polynesian language of the Marshall Islands, and the principal language of the country...

 is used by the government. Although English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is an official language and is spoken widely, the population is not fluent. Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

 is also spoken occasionally in some areas. Although the ancient skills are now in decline, the Marshallese were once able navigators
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

, using the stars
Celestial navigation
Celestial navigation, also known as astronavigation, is a position fixing technique that has evolved over several thousand years to help sailors cross oceans without having to rely on estimated calculations, or dead reckoning, to know their position...

 and stick-and-shell charts
Marshall Islands stick chart
Stick charts were made and used by the Marshallese to navigate the Pacific Ocean by canoe off the coast of the Marshall Islands. The charts represented major ocean swell patterns and the ways the islands disrupted those patterns, typically determined by sensing disruptions in ocean swells by...

. They are also experienced in canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

-building. They still hold annual competitions involving the unique oceanic sailing canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

, the proa
Proa
A proa, also seen as prau, perahu, and prahu, is a type of multihull sailing vessel.While the word perahu and proa are generic terms meaning boat their native language, proa in Western languages has come to describe a vessel consisting of two unequal length parallel hulls...

.

Further reading

  • Barker, H. M. (2004). Bravo for the Marshallese: Regaining Control in a Post-nuclear, Post-colonial World. Belmont, California: Thomson/Wadsworth.
  • Rudiak-Gould, P. (2009). Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island. New York: Union Square Press.
  • Niedenthal, J. (2001). For the Good of Mankind: A History of the People of Bikini and Their Islands. Majuro, Marshall Islands: Bravo Publishers.
  • Carucci, L. M. (1997). Nuclear Nativity: Rituals of Renewal and Empowerment in the Marshall Islands. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press.
  • Hein, J. R., F. L. Wong, and D. L. Mosier (2007). Bathymetry of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Vicinity [Miscellaneous Field Studies; Map-MF-2324]. Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Woodard, Colin (2000). Ocean's End: Travels Through Endangered Seas. New York: Basic Books. (Contains extended account of sea-level rise threat and the legacy of U.S. Atomic testing.)

External links



Government

General information
  • Country Profile from New Internationalist
    New Internationalist
    New Internationalist is a magazine from New Internationalist Publications, a co-operative-run publisher based in Oxford, England. It has editorial and sales offices in Toronto, Canada; Adelaide, Australia; Christchurch, New Zealand; and New York, USA....

  • Marshall Islands from UCB Libraries GovPubs


News media

Other