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Flag of Marshall Islands
Map of Marshall Islands
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 have been home to the US Army Base Kwajalein (USAKA) since 1964.
Geography Marshall Islands
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:
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
370.4 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
wet season from May to November; hot and humid; 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: 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
People Marshall Islands
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 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/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:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese
Ethnic groups:
Christian (mostly Protestant)
English (widely spoken as a second language, both English and Marshallese are official languages), two major Marshallese dialects from the Malayo-Polynesian family, Japanese
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 93.6%
female: 93.7% (1999)
Government Marshall Islands
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
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
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:
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
Economy Marshall Islands
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.
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:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.9% (1999 est.)
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 21%, industry 21%, services 58%
Unemployment rate:
30.9% (1999 est.)
revenues: $42 million
expenditures: $40 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999)
copra, fish, tourism, craft items from shell, wood, and pearls
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1% (solar)
Agriculture - products:
coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens
$9 million f.o.b. (2000)
Exports - commodities:
copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts
Exports - partners:
US, Japan, Australia
$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
US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications Marshall Islands
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)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (both are US military stations) (2002)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
900 (2002)
Transportation Marshall Islands
0 km
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)
Ports and harbors:
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
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)
Military Marshall Islands
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Police Force
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues Marshall Islands
Disputes - international:
claims US territory of Wake Island

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003