Marshall Islands Travel Information

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Plants and Environments of the Marshall Islands  An easy to read description of the plants and vegetation zones of the Marshall Islands. Lots of pictures.

Facts About the Marshall Islands

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.
Government type: constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 21 October 1986
Capital: Majuro
Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Geography of the Marshall Islands

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
total: 181.3 sq km
land: 181.3 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, and Kwajalein
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%
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 of the Marshall Islands

Two-thirds of the nation's population lives in Majuro and Ebeye. The outer islands are sparsely populated due to lack of employment opportunities and economic development.

The Marshallese are of Micronesian origin, which is traced to a combination of peoples who emigrated from Southeast Asia in the remote past. The matrilineal Marshallese culture revolves around a complex system of clans and lineages tied to land ownership.

Virtually all Marshallese are Christian, most of them Protestant. Other Christian denominations include Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon, Salvation Army, and Jehovah's Witness. A small Bahai community also exists.

Both Marshallese and English are official languages. English is spoken by most of the urban population. However, both the Nitijela (parliament) and national radio use Marshallese.

The public school system provides education through grade 12, although admission to secondary school is selective. The elementary program employs a bilingual/bicultural curriculum. English is introduced in the fourth grade. There is one post-secondary institution in the Marshall Islands--the College of the Marshall Islands.

Population: 59,071 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  49.29% (male 17,808; female 17,101)
15-64 years:  48.61% (male 17,573; female 16,853)
65 years and over:  2.1%
Population growth rate: 3.88% 
Birth rate: 45.07 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 6.23 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 39.82 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  65.84 years
male:  64.04 years
female:  67.73 
Total fertility rate: 6.55 children born/woman 
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
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93%
male: 100%
female: 88% (1980 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Marshall Islands > Map Economy