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  Introduction Back To Top

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 Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

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

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

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
9 00 N, 168 00 E

Natural resources:
coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Likiep 10 m

low coral limestone and sand islands

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

total: 181.3 sq km
land: 181.3 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

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

370.4 km

Area - comparative:
about the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:
0 sq km

Environment - current issues:
inadequate supplies of potable water; pollution of Majuro lagoon from household waste and discharges from fishing vessels

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
infrequent typhoons

Land use:
arable land: 11.11%
permanent crops: 44.44%
other: 44.45% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
3.68 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.9 years
male: 68.88 years
female: 73.03 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 93.6%
female: 93.7% (1999)

Net migration rate:
-5.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Marshallese 92.1%, mixed Marshallese 5.9%, other 2% (2006)

Median age:
total: 21 years
male: 21 years
female: 20.9 years (2008 est.)

63,174 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
11.8% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
2.142% (2008 est.)

Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)
note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language

Death rate:
4.57 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 26.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 22.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2003)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 38.5% (male 12,404/female 11,946)
15-64 years: 58.6% (male 18,937/female 18,095)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 869/female 923) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
31.52 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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)

noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Clyde BISHOP
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

National holiday:
Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)

18 years of age; universal

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

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Charles A. PAUL
chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236
consulate(s) general: Honolulu

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral legislature or Nitijela (33 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 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

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

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

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

Country name (Goverment):
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

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]

name: Majuro
geographic coordinates: 7 06 N, 171 23 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

1 May 1979

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Litokwa TOMEING (since 7 January 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Litokwa TOMEING (since 7 January 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president from among the members of the legislature
elections: president elected by Parliament from among its members for a four-year term; election last held 7 January 2008 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: Litokwa TOMEING elected president; TOMEING received 18 votes to 15 for incumbent Kessai Hesa NOTE

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

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; High Court; Traditional Rights Court

  Economy Back To Top

Debt - external:
$86.5 million (FY99/00 est.)

Unemployment rate:
30.9% (2000 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$2,900 (2005 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$115 million (2001 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$144 million (2005)

Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used

GDP - real growth rate:
3.5% (2005 est.)

Labor force:
14,680 (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3% (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 31.7%
industry: 14.9%
services: 53.4% (2004 est.)

$9.1 million f.o.b. (2000)

Currency (code):
US dollar (USD)

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.

Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages and tobacco

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

Population below poverty line:

$54.7 million f.o.b. (2000)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 21.4%
industry: 20.9%
services: 57.7% (2000)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish

Economic aid - recipient:
$56.56 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1% (solar)

revenues: $42 million
expenditures: $40 million (1999)

Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
2,200 (2006)

Telephones - main lines in use:
4,500 (2004)


Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 3, shortwave 0 (additionally, the US Armed Forces Radio and Television Services (Central Pacific Network) operate one FM and one AM station on Kwajalein) (2005)


Telephones - mobile cellular:
700 (2005)

Television broadcast stations:
2 (both are US military stations; Marshalls Broadcasting Service, a cable company, operates on Majuro) (2005)

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)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)

Internet hosts:
3 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:

Merchant marine:
total: 1,049
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 284, cargo 71, carrier 1, chemical tanker 191, combination ore/oil 4, container 188, liquefied gas 47, passenger 5, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 221, refrigerated cargo 13, roll on/roll off 14, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 6
foreign-owned: 990 (Australia 1, Bermuda 4, Brazil 1, Canada 6, Chile 4, China 7, Croatia 6, Cyprus 37, Denmark 10, Germany 235, Greece 269, Hong Kong 4, Iceland 3, India 1, Ireland 1, Isle of Man 1, Italy 3, Japan 17, South Korea 10, Latvia 16, Malaysia 3, Mexico 4, Monaco 13, Netherlands 8, Norway 66, Pakistan 1, Panama 1, Romania 1, Russia 9, Saudi Arabia 5, Singapore 18, Slovenia 4, Spain 1, Sweden 1, Switzerland 12, Taiwan 1, Turkey 50, UAE 15, UK 9, UK 9, US 123) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)

total: 2,028 km (includes 75 km of expressways) (2007)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2007)

15 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 15,708 (2008 est.)

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 12,864 (2008 est.)

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 (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 512
female: 494 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
claims US territory of Wake Island

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