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Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands (Australia-Oceania)

Introduction ::Marshall Islands


After almost four decades under US administration as the easternmost part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Marshall Islands attained independence in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association. Compensation claims continue as a result of US nuclear testing on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.

Geography ::Marshall Islands


Oceania, two archipelagic island chains of 29 atolls, each made up of many small islets, and five single islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and Australia

Geographic coordinates:
9 00 N, 168 00 E

Map references:



total: 181 sq km country comparison to the world: 216 land: 181 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: the archipelago includes 11,673 sq km of lagoon waters and includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik

Area - comparative:

about the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:

0 km


370.4 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt


low coral limestone and sand islands

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed location on Likiep 10 m

Natural resources:

coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals

Land use:

arable land: 11.11%

permanent crops: 44.44%

other: 44.45% (2005)

Irrigated land:

0 sq km

Natural hazards:

infrequent typhoons

Environment - current issues:

inadequate supplies of potable water; pollution of Majuro lagoon from household waste and discharges from fishing vessels

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

the islands of Bikini and Enewetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein atoll, famous as a World War II battleground, surrounds the world's largest lagoon and is used as a US missile test range; the island city of Ebeye is the second largest settlement in the Marshall Islands, after the capital of Majuro, and one of the most densely populated locations in the Pacific

People ::Marshall Islands


65,859 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 203

Age structure:

0-14 years: 38.6% (male 12,683/female 12,217)

15-64 years: 58.5% (male 19,302/female 18,459)

65 years and over: 2.9% (male 902/female 959) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 21.5 years

male: 21.5 years

female: 21.5 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.023% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 54

Birth rate:

29.94 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 44

Death rate:

4.42 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 200

Net migration rate:

-5.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 200


urban population: 71% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 24.57 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 86 male: 27.61 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 21.38 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 71.48 years country comparison to the world: 130 male: 69.41 years

female: 73.65 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.51 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 48

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)

adjective: Marshallese

Ethnic groups:

Marshallese 92.1%, mixed Marshallese 5.9%, other 2% (2006)


Protestant 54.8%, Assembly of God 25.8%, Roman Catholic 8.4%, Bukot nan Jesus 2.8%, Mormon 2.1%, other Christian 3.6%, other 1%, none 1.5% (1999 census)


Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)

note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 93.7%

male: 93.6%

female: 93.7% (1999)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 13 years (2003)

Education expenditures:

12.3% of GDP (2004) country comparison to the world: 4

Government ::Marshall Islands

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands

conventional short form: Marshall Islands

local long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands

local short form: Marshall Islands

abbreviation: RMI

former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Marshall Islands District

Government type:

constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force on 21 October 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force in May 2004


name: Majuro

geographic coordinates: 7 06 N, 171 23 E

time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

33 municipalities; Ailinginae, Ailinglaplap, Ailuk, Arno, Aur,
Bikar, Bikini, Bokak, Ebon, Enewetak, Erikub, Jabat, Jaluit, Jemo,
Kili, Kwajalein, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Majuro, Maloelap, Mejit, Mili,
Namorik, Namu, Rongelap, Rongrik, Toke, Ujae, Ujelang, Utirik,
Wotho, Wotje


21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday:

Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)


1 May 1979

Legal system:

based on adapted Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Jurelang ZEDKAIA (since 2 November 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Jurelang ZEDKAIA (since 2 November 2009)

cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president from among the members of the legislature (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by Nitijela (legislature) from among its members for a four-year term; election last held on 7 January 2008 (next to be held in 2012)

election results: Litokwa TOMEING removed as president by no confidence vote on 21 October 2009; legislature elects ZEDKAIA president on 26 October 2009

Legislative branch:

unicameral legislature or Nitijela (33 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held on 19 November 2007 (next to be held by November 2011)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 4

note: the Council of Chiefs or Ironij is a 12-member body comprised of tribal chiefs that advises on matters affecting customary law and practice

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court; High Court; Traditional Rights Court

Political parties and leaders:

traditionally there have been no formally organized political parties; what has existed more closely resembles factions or interest groups because they do not have party headquarters, formal platforms, or party structures; the following two "groupings" have competed in legislative balloting in recent years - Aelon Kein Ad Party [Michael KABUA] and United Democratic Party or UDP [Litokwa TOMEING]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

International organization participation:

ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Banny DEBRUM

chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236

consulate(s) general: Honolulu

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Martha L. CAMPBELL

embassy: Oceanside, Mejen Weto, Long Island, Majuro

mailing address: P. O. Box 1379, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands 96960-1379

telephone: [692] 247-4011
FAX: [692] 247-4012

Flag description:

blue with two stripes radiating from the lower hoist-side corner - orange (top) and white; a white star with four large rays and 20 small rays appears on the hoist side above the two stripes; blue represents the Pacific Ocean, the orange stripe signifies the Ralik Chain or sunset and courage, while the white stripe signifies the Ratak Chain or sunrise and peace; the star symbolizes the cross of Christianity, each of the 24 rays designates one of the electoral districts in the country and the four larger rays highlight the principal cultural centers of Majuro, Jaluit, Wotje, and Ebeye; the rising diagonal band can also be interpreted as representing the equator, with the star showing the archipelago's position just to the north

National anthem:

name: "Forever Marshall Islands"

lyrics/music: Amata KABUA

note: adopted 1981

Economy ::Marshall Islands

Economy - overview:

US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. The Marshall Islands received more than $1 billion in aid from the US from 1986-2002. Agricultural production, primarily subsistence, is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna 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 Amended Compact of Free Association, the US will provide millions of dollars per year to the Marshall Islands (RMI) through 2023, at which time a Trust Fund made up of US and RMI contributions will begin perpetual annual payouts. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, the decline in tourism, and less income from the renewal of fishing vessel licenses have held GDP growth to an average of 1% over the past decade.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$133.5 million (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 219 $115 million (2001 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$161.7 million (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-0.3% (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 191 3.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$2,500 (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 179 $2,900 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 31.7%

industry: 14.9%

services: 53.4% (2004 est.)

Labor force:

14,680 (2000) country comparison to the world: 212

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 21.4%

industry: 20.9%

services: 57.7% (2000)

Unemployment rate:

36% (2006 est.) country comparison to the world: 185 30.9% (2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

12.9% (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 211 3% (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens


copra, tuna processing, tourism, craft items (from seashells, wood, and pearls)

Industrial production growth rate:


$19.4 million (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 206 $9.1 million (2000 est.)

Exports - commodities:

copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish


$79.4 million (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 212 $54.7 million (2000 est.)

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages and tobacco

Debt - external:

$87 million (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 180 $86.5 million (FY99/00 est.)

Exchange rates:

the US dollar is used

Communications ::Marshall Islands

Telephones - main lines in use:

4,400 (2009) country comparison to the world: 214

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 218

Telephone system:

general assessment: digital switching equipment; modern services include telex, cellular, Internet, international calling, caller ID, and leased data circuits

domestic: Majuro Atoll and Ebeye and Kwajalein islands have regular, seven-digit, direct-dial telephones; other islands interconnected by high frequency radiotelephone (used mostly for government purposes) and mini-satellite telephones

international: country code - 692; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein (2005)

Broadcast media:

no television broadcast station; a cable network is available on Majuro with programming via videotape replay and satellite relays; 4 radio broadcast stations; American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) provides satellite radio and television service to Kwajalein Atoll (2009)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

3 (2010) country comparison to the world: 230

Internet users:

2,200 (2009) country comparison to the world: 209

Transportation ::Marshall Islands


15 (2010) country comparison to the world: 147

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 11

914 to 1,523 m: 10

under 914 m: 1 (2010)


total: 2,028 km (includes 75 km of expressways) (2007) country comparison to the world: 174

Merchant marine:

total: 1,381 country comparison to the world: 7 by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 415, cargo 63, chemical tanker 314, combination ore/oil 2, container 206, liquefied gas 83, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 259, refrigerated cargo 14, roll on/roll off 9, vehicle carrier 7

foreign-owned: 1,284 (Australia 1, Bermuda 34, Brazil 1, Canada 4, China 16, Croatia 12, Cyprus 38, Denmark 7, Egypt 1, Germany 247, Greece 358, Hong Kong 3, India 8, Iraq 2, Isle of Man 2, Israel 1, Italy 1, Japan 41, Jersey 9, Latvia 18, Malaysia 11, Mexico 4, Monaco 21, Netherlands 16, Norway 57, Pakistan 1, Qatar 24, Romania 2, Russia 6, Singapore 28, Slovenia 6, South Korea 25, Switzerland 12, Taiwan 2, Turkey 72, UAE 17, UK 7, Ukraine 1, US 168) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Enitwetak Island, Kwajalein, Majuro

Military ::Marshall Islands

Military branches:

no regular military forces; under the 1983 Compact of Free Association, the US has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands; Marshall Islands Police (2009)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 16,138 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 13,277

females age 16-49: 13,374 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 602

female: 580 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues ::Marshall Islands

Disputes - international:

claims US territory of Wake Island

Political divisions of the United States

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Federal district : Washington, D.C.
Insular areas : American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands |Puerto Rico | U.S. Virgin Islands

Outlying islands : Baker Island | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll |Kingman Reef Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Palmyra Atoll | Wake Island

Indian reservations : List of Indian reservations

Associated states : Micronesia, Federated States of | Marshall Islands | Palau


Hellenica World