Back to Standard Web Page

Marshall Islands



Country and Regional Maps

Links to Other Sites

Introduction

Background: 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 islands between 1947 and 1962.

Geography

Location: Oceania, group of atolls and reefs in the North Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Papua New Guinea

Geographic coordinates: 9 00 N, 168 00 E

Map references: Oceania

Area
  total: 181.3 sq km
  land: 181.3 sq km
  water: 0 sq km (Note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, and Kwajalein)

Area - comparative: about the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 370.4 km

Maritime claims
  contiguous zone: 24 nm
  exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 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: phosphate deposits, marine products, deep seabed minerals

Land use
  arable land: 0%
  permanent crops: 60%
  permanent pastures: 0%
  forests and woodland: 0%
  other: 40%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: occasional typhoons

Environment - current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water

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

People

Population: 68,126 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 50% (male 17,204; female 16,521)
  15-64 years: 48% (male 16,826; female 16,111)
  65 years and over: 2% (male 693; female 771) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.88% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 45.17 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 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: 0.9 male(s)/female
  total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 40.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 65.5 years
  male: 63.72 years
  female: 67.36 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.61 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
  adjective: Marshallese

Ethnic groups: Micronesian

Religions: Christian (mostly Protestant)

Languages: English (universally spoken and is the official language), two major Marshallese dialects from the Malayo-Polynesian family, Japanese

Literacy
  definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  total population: 93%
  male: 100%
  female: 88% (1980 est.)

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)

Data code: RM

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: Proclamation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, 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 NA November 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003)
  election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA (Note: the Council of Chiefs is a 12-member body that advises on matters affecting customary law and practice)

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 TOMLING]

International organization participation: AsDB, ESCAP, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFC, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, ITU, OPCW, 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
  telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
  FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236
  consulate(s) general: Honolulu

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Joan M. PLAISTED
  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

Economy

Economy - overview: US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. Agricultural production is concentrated on small farms, and the most important commercial crops are coconuts, tomatoes, melons, and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, fish processing, and copra. The tourist industry, now a small source of foreign exchange employing less than 10% of the labor force, remains the best hope for future added income. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. Under the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the US provides roughly $65 million in annual aid. Negotiations were underway in 1999 for an extended agreement. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, and the decline in tourism and foreign investment due to the Asian financial difficulties caused GDP to fall in 1996-98.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $105 million (1998 est.), supplemented by approximately $65 million annual US aid

GDP - real growth rate: -5% (1998 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,670 (1998 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 15%
  industry: 13%
  services: 72% (1995)

Population below poverty line: NA%

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

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (1997)

Labor force: NA

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%

Unemployment rate: 16% (1991 est.)

Budget
  revenues: $80.1 million
  expenditures: $77.4 million, including capital expenditures of $19.5 million (FY95/96 est.)

Industries: copra, fish, tourism, craft items from shell, wood, and pearls, offshore banking (embryonic)

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 57 million kWh (1994)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: NA%
  hydro: NA%
  nuclear: NA%
  other: NA%

Electricity - consumption: 57 million kWh (1994)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1994)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1994)

Agriculture - products: coconuts, cacao, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens

Exports: $28 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)

Exports - commodities: fish, coconut oil, fish, trochus shells

Exports - partners: US, Japan, Australia

Imports: $58 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)

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

Imports - partners: US, Japan, Australia, NZ, Guam, Singapore

Debt - external: $125 million (FY96/97 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: approximately $65 million annually from the US

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 3,000 (1994)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 280 (1994)

Telephone system: telex services
  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

Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 4, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 3 (of which two are US military stations) (1997)

Televisions: NA

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA

Transportation

Railways: 0 km

Highways
  total: NA km
  paved: NA km
  unpaved: NA km (Note: paved roads on major islands (Majuro, Kwajalein), otherwise stone-, coral-, or laterite-surfaced roads and tracks)

Ports and harbors: Majuro

Merchant marine
  total: 143 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 6,801,336 GRT/11,785,065 DWT
  ships by type: bulk 48, cargo 8, chemical tanker 5, combination bulk 1, container 19, liquified gas 2, multi-functional large load carrier 1, petroleum tanker 58, vehicle carrier 1 (1999 est.) (Note: a flag of convenience registry; includes the ships of Canada 1, China 1, Germany 1, Japan 1, and US 7 (1998 est.))

Airports: 16 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 4
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
  914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 12
  914 to 1,523 m: 7
  under 914 m: 5 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: no regular military forces (a coast guard may be established); Police Force

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: claims US territory of Wake Island

Copyright © 2001 International Opportunities. All Rights Reserved.
Site Version 1.75 - Last updated December 20, 2006

Animated flag courtesy of The Animation Factory.
Back to Standard Web Page