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Marshall Islands

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Flag
Image:rm-flag.png
Quick Facts
CapitalMajuro
Governmentconstitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 21 October 1986
CurrencyUS dollar (USD)
Areatotal: 181.3 sq km
note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik
water: 0 sq km
land: 181.3 sq km
Population73,630 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageEnglish (widely spoken as a second language, both English and Marshallese are official languages), two major Marshallese dialects from the Malayo-Polynesian family, Japanese
ReligionChristian (mostly Protestant)

marshall islands Travel Guide :

Marshall Islands

Understand

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 have been home to the US Army Base Kwajalein (USAKA) since 1964. A number of islands are off-limits to tourism (and even to locals) due to US military presence or the residue of nuclear testing.

Map of Marshall IslandsMap of Marshall Islands
Map of Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands

Geography

Location 
Oceania, group of atolls and reefs in the North Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates 
9 00 N, 168 00 E
Map references 
Oceania
Area 
total: 181.3 sq km
note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik
water: 0 sq km
land: 181.3 sq km
Area - comparative 
about the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries 
0 km
Coastline 
370.4 km
Maritime claims 
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate 
wet season from May to November; hot and humid; islands border typhoon belt
Terrain 
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: 16.67%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 83.33% (1998 est.)
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, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note 
two archipelagic island chains of 30 atolls and 1,152 islands; Bikini and Enewetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein, the famous World War II battleground, is now used as a US missile test range
Marshall Islands

People

Population 
73,630 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 
0-14 years: 49.1% (male 18,443; female 17,704)
15-64 years: 48.9% (male 18,347; female 17,628)
65 years and over: 2% (male 720; female 788) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
3.89% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
44.98 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
6.07 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate 
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio 
at birth: 1.05 mas)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 mas)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 mas)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 mas)/female
total population: 1.04 mas)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
38.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 66.18 years
female: 68.09 years (2002 est.)
male: 64.35 years
Total fertility rate 
6.49 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
NA%
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 
NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths 
NA
Nationality 
noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese
Ethnic groups 
Micronesian
Religions 
Christian (mostly Protestant)
Languages 
English (widely spoken as a second language, both English and Marshallese are official languages), two major Marshallese dialects from the Malayo-Polynesian family, Japanese
Literacy 
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 93.6%
female: 93.7% (1999)
Marshall Islands

Government

Country name 
conventional long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands
conventional short form: Marshall Islands
former: Marshall Islands District (Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
Government type 
constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 21 October 1986
Capital 
Majuro
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
Independence 
21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday 
Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)
Constitution 
1 May 1979
Legal system 
based on adapted Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws
Suffrage 
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch 
chief of state: President Kessai Hesa NOTE (since 3 January 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Kessai Hesa NOTE (since 3 January 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president from among the members of Parliament
elections: president elected by Parliament from among its own members for a four-year term; election last held 15 November 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003)
election results: Kessai Hesa NOTE elected president; percent of Parliament vote - 100%
Legislative branch 
unicameral Parliament or Nitijela (33 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 15 November 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003)
note: the Council of Chiefs is a 12-member body that advises on matters affecting customary law and practice
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA
Judicial branch 
Supreme Court; High 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 - Kabua Party Imata KABUA and United Democratic Party or UDP Litokwa TOMEING
Political pressure groups and leaders 
NA
International organization participation 
ACP, AsDB, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFC, IMF, IMO, Interpol, ITU, OPCW (signatory), Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO
Diplomatic representation in the US 
chief of mission: Ambassador Banny DE BRUM
chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Honolulu
FAX: 1 (202) 232-3236
telephone: 1 (202) 234-5414
Diplomatic representation from the US 
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael J. SENKO
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; there is a white star with four large rays and 20 small rays on the hoist side above the two stripes
Marshall Islands

Economy

Economy - overview 
US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. Agricultural production is primarily subsistence and 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 Compact of Free Association, the US provides roughly $39 million in annual aid. Negotiations have continued for an extended agreement. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, the decline in tourism and foreign investment due to the Asian financial difficulties, 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 - $115 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 
1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita 
purchasing power parity - $1,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector 
agriculture: 14%
industry: 16%
services: 70% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line 
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share 
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 
1.9% (1999 est.)
Labor force 
28,698
Labor force - by occupation 
agriculture 21%, industry 21%, services 58%
Unemployment rate 
30.9% (1999 est.)
Budget 
revenues: $42 million
expenditures: $40 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999)
Industries 
copra, fish, tourism, craft items from shell, wood, and pearls
Industrial production growth rate 
NA%
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 99%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1% (solar)
Agriculture - products 
coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens
Exports 
$9 million f.o.b. (2000)
Exports - commodities 
copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts
Exports - partners 
US, Japan, Australia
Imports 
$54 million f.o.b. (2000)
Imports - commodities 
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages and tobacco
Imports - partners 
US, Japan, Australia, NZ, Singapore, Fiji, China, Philippines
Debt - external 
$86.5 million
Economic aid - recipient 
approximately $39 million annually from the US
Currency 
US dollar (USD)
Currency code 
USD
Exchange rates 
the US dollar is used
Fiscal year 
1 October - 30 September
Marshall Islands

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use 
4,186 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
489 (2001)
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 shortwave radiotelephone (used mostly for government purposes)
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein (2001)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 2, FM 1, shortwave 0
note: additionally, the US Armed Forces Radio and Television Services (Central Pacific Network) operate one FM and one AM station on Kwajalein (2002)
Radios 
NA
Television broadcast stations 
2 (both are US military stations) (2002)
Televisions 
NA
Internet country code 
.mh
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
1 (2002)
Internet users 
900 (2002)
Marshall Islands

Transportation

Railways 
0 km
Highways 
total: NA km
paved: 64.5 km
unpaved: NA km
note: paved roads on major islands (Majuro, Kwajalein), otherwise stone-, coral-, or laterite-surfaced roads and tracks (2002)
Waterways 
none
Ports and harbors 
Majuro
Merchant marine 
total: 270 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 11,807,839 GRT/19,332,014 DWT
note: the ship's register of the Marshall Islands is a flag of convenience register since essentially none of the vessels on it is owned domestically, includes the following foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: China 1, Cyprus 1, Denmark 9, Germany 70, Greece 54, Hong Kong 2, Japan 4, Monaco 8, Netherlands 8, Norway 10, Poland 16, Singapore 1, Turkey 6, United Kingdom 3, United States 87, Uruguay 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 82, cargo 14, chemical tanker 24, combination ore/oil 4, container 46, liquefied gas 8, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, petroleum tanker 88, vehicle carrier 3
Airports 
17 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways 
total: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Marshall Islands

Military

Military branches 
no regular military forces; Police Force
Military expenditures - dollar figure 
$NA
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 
NA%
Military - note 
defense is the responsibility of the US
Marshall Islands

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
claims US territory of Wake Island

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