Australia-Oceania :: MARSHALL ISLANDS
Page last updated on October 07, 2017
View 2 photos of
  • 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 hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network. Kwajalein also hosts one of four dedicated ground antennas (the others are on Ascension (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory), and at Cape Canaveral, Florida (US)) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system.
  • Geography :: MARSHALL ISLANDS

  • 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 halfway between Hawaii and Australia
    9 00 N, 168 00 E
    total: 181 sq km
    land: 181 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    note: the archipelago includes 11,673 sq km of lagoon waters and encompasses the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik
    country comparison to the world: 217
    about the size of Washington, DC
    0 km
    370.4 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt
    low coral limestone and sand islands
    mean elevation: 2 m
    elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: East-central Airik Island, Maloelap Atoll 14 m
    coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals
    agricultural land: 50.7%
    arable land 7.8%; permanent crops 31.2%; permanent pasture 11.7%
    forest: 49.3%
    other: 0% (2011 est.)
    0 sq km (2012)
    infrequent typhoons
    inadequate supplies of potable water; pollution of Majuro lagoon from household waste and discharges from fishing vessels
    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
    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
  • People and Society :: MARSHALL ISLANDS

  • 74,539 (July 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
    adjective: Marshallese
    Marshallese 92.1%, mixed Marshallese 5.9%, other 2% (2006)
    Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)
    note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language
    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)
    0-14 years: 34.89% (male 13,261/female 12,743)
    15-24 years: 18% (male 6,820/female 6,594)
    25-54 years: 37.28% (male 14,147/female 13,642)
    55-64 years: 5.82% (male 2,189/female 2,148)
    65 years and over: 4.02% (male 1,475/female 1,520) (2017 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total: 22.7 years
    male: 22.6 years
    female: 22.8 years (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 171
    1.6% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 74
    24.4 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 51
    4.2 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 208
    -4.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 188
    urban population: 73.2% of total population (2017)
    rate of urbanization: 1.07% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    MAJURO (capital) 31,000 (2014)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
    20.7 years
    note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2007 est.)
    total: 20 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 22.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 17.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 84
    total population: 73.1 years
    male: 70.9 years
    female: 75.4 years (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    3.03 children born/woman (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 55
    44.6% (2007)
    17.1% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    0.46 physicians/1,000 population (2012)
    2.7 beds/1,000 population (2010)
    urban: 93.5% of population
    rural: 97.6% of population
    total: 94.6% of population
    urban: 6.5% of population
    rural: 2.4% of population
    total: 5.4% of population (2015 est.)
    urban: 84.5% of population
    rural: 56.2% of population
    total: 76.9% of population
    urban: 15.5% of population
    rural: 43.8% of population
    total: 23.1% of population (2015 est.)
    note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)
    42.3% (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 98.3%
    male: 98.3%
    female: 98.2% (2011 est.)
    total: 11%
    male: 12.2%
    female: 8.7% (2010 est.)
  • Government :: MARSHALL ISLANDS

  • 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
    etymology: named after British Captain John MARSHALL, who charted many of the islands in 1788
    presidential republic in free association with the US
    name: Majuro; note - the capital is an atoll of 64 islands; governmental buildings are housed on three fused islands: Djarrit, Uliga, and Delap
    geographic coordinates: 7 06 N, 171 23 E
    time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    24 municipalities; Ailinglaplap, Ailuk, Arno, Aur, Bikini & Kili, Ebon, Enewetak & Ujelang, Jabat, Jaluit, Kwajalein, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Majuro, Maloelap, Mejit, Mili, Namdrik, Namu, Rongelap, Ujae, Utrik, Wotho, Wotje
    21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)
    Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)
    effective 1 May 1979; amended several times, last in 1995 (2016)
    mixed legal system of US and English common law, customary law, and local statutes
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of the Marshall Islands
    dual citizenship recognized: no
    residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Hilda C. HEINE (since 28 January 2016); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Hilda C. HEINE (since 28 January 2016)
    cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the president from among members of the Nitijela, appointed by Nitijela speaker
    elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Nitijela from among its members for a 4-year term (no term limits); election last held on 27 January 2016 (next to be held in 2020)
    election results: Hilda C. HEINE elected president on 27 January 2016; Parliament vote - Hilda C. HEINE 24, she was the only candidate
    description: bicameral legislature consists of the Council of Iroij (12 seats; consists of tribal chiefs chosen by holders of the chieftainship among the constituent islands) and the National Parliament or Nitijela (33 seats; members directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the Council of Iroij advises the Presidential Cabinet and reviews legislation affecting customary law or any traditional practice)
    elections: last held on 16 November 2015 (next to be held by November 2019)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independent 33
    highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and other judges as prescribed by law)
    judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission and upon the approval of the Nitijela; judges appointed until retirement, normally at age 72
    subordinate courts: High Court; District Courts; Traditional Rights Court; Community Courts
    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]
    chief of mission: Ambassador Gerald M. ZACKIOS (since 16 September 2016)
    chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, 1st Floor, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
    FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236
    consulate(s) general: Honolulu, Springdale (AR)
    consulate(s): Agana (Guam)
    chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas H. ARMBRUSTER (since 16 August 2012)
    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
    blue with two stripes radiating from the lower hoist-side corner - orange (top) and white; a white star with four large rays and 20 small rays appears on the hoist side above the two stripes; blue represents the Pacific Ocean, the orange stripe signifies the Ralik Chain or sunset and courage, while the white stripe signifies the Ratak Chain or sunrise and peace; the star symbolizes the cross of Christianity, each of the 24 rays designates one of the electoral districts in the country and the four larger rays highlight the principal cultural centers of Majuro, Jaluit, Wotje, and Ebeye; the rising diagonal band can also be interpreted as representing the equator, with the star showing the archipelago's position just to the north
    a 24-rayed star; national colors: blue, white, orange
    name: "Forever Marshall Islands"
    lyrics/music: Amata KABUA
    note: adopted 1981

  • US assistance and lease payments for the use of Kwajalein Atoll as a US military base are the mainstay of this small island country. Agricultural production, primarily subsistence, is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna processing, and copra. Tourism holds some potential. The islands and atolls have few natural resources, and imports exceed exports.
    The Marshall Islands received roughly $1 billion in aid from the US during the period 1986-2001 under the original Compact of Free Association (Compact). In 2002 and 2003, the US and the Marshall Islands renegotiated the Compact's financial package for a 20-year period, 2004 to 2024. Under the amended Compact, the Marshall Islands will receive roughly $1.5 billion in direct US assistance. Under the amended Compact, the US and Marshall Islands are also jointly funding a Trust Fund for the people of the Marshall Islands that will provide an income stream beyond 2024, when direct Compact aid ends.
    $181 million (2016 est.)
    $177.9 million (2015 est.)
    $175.5 million (2014 est.)
    note: data are in 2016 dollars
    country comparison to the world: 221
    $183 million (2016 est.)
    1.8% (2016 est.)
    1.4% (2015 est.)
    0.6% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 143
    $3,300 (2016 est.)
    $3,300 (2015 est.)
    $3,200 (2014 est.)
    note: data are in 2016 dollars
    country comparison to the world: 188
    agriculture: 4.4%
    industry: 9.9%
    services: 85.7% (2013 est.)
    coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens
    copra, tuna processing, tourism, craft items (from seashells, wood, and pearls)
    10,670 (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    agriculture: 11%
    industry: 16.3%
    services: 72.7% (2011 est.)
    36% (2006 est.)
    30.9% (2000 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 203
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $116.7 million
    expenditures: $113.9 million (2013 est.)
    62.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 7
    1.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 18
    51.3% of GDP (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    1 October - 30 September
    0.9% (2016 est.)
    -2.2% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 77
    $25 million (2016 est.)
    $32 million (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    $53.7 million (2013 est.)
    $58.1 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 202
    copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish
    $133.7 million (2013 est.)
    $120.9 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages, tobacco
    $97.96 million (2013 est.)
    $87 million (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 194
    the US dollar is used

  • population without electricity: 30,084
    electrification - total population: 59%
    electrification - urban areas: 65%
    electrification - rural areas: 45% (2012)
    700 million kWh (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    600 million kWh (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    52,000 kW (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 190
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)
    country comparison to the world: 167
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 189
    2,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 194
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 191
    2,060 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 190
    300,000 Mt (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
  • Communications :: MARSHALL ISLANDS

  • total subscriptions: 2,361
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    total: 16,000
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    general assessment: some telecom infrastructure improvements made in recent years; 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 (2016)
    no TV broadcast station; a cable network is available on Majuro with programming via videotape replay and satellite relays; 4 radio broadcast stations; American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) provides satellite radio and television service to Kwajalein Atoll (2009)
    total: 21,857
    percent of population: 29.8% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
  • Transportation :: MARSHALL ISLANDS

  • number of registered air carriers: 1
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 86,868
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)
    V7 (2016)
    15 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    total: 4
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
    914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)
    total: 11
    914 to 1,523 m: 10
    under 914 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 2,028 km
    paved: 75 km
    note: roads are mostly unimproved (2007)
    country comparison to the world: 175
    total: 1,593
    by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 524, cargo 65, carrier 1, chemical tanker 351, container 226, liquefied gas 88, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 297, refrigerated cargo 13, roll on/roll off 9, vehicle carrier 10
    foreign-owned: 1,465 (Belgium 1, Bermuda 35, Brazil 1, Canada 8, China 14, Croatia 12, Cyprus 40, Denmark 7, Egypt 1, France 7, Germany 248, Greece 408, Hong Kong 3, India 10, Indonesia 1, Iraq 2, Ireland 6, Italy 1, Japan 59, Jersey 11, Kuwait 2, Latvia 19, Malaysia 11, Mexico 2, Monaco 30, Netherlands 21, Norway 75, Pakistan 1, Qatar 29, Romania 2, Russia 5, Singapore 30, Slovenia 6, South Korea 41, Sweden 1, Switzerland 12, Taiwan 8, Turkey 70, UAE 12, UK 12, Ukraine 1, US 200) (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 7
    major seaport(s): Enitwetak Island, Kwajalein, Majuro
  • Military and Security :: MARSHALL ISLANDS

  • no regular military forces; Marshall Islands Police (2012)
    defense is the responsibility of the US
  • Transnational Issues :: MARSHALL ISLANDS

  • claims US territory of Wake Island
    current situation: The Marshall Islands is a source and destination country for Marshallese women and girls and women from East Asia subjected to sex trafficking; Marshallese and foreign women are forced into prostitution in businesses frequented by crew members of fishing and transshipping vessels that dock in Majuro; some Chinese women are recruited to the Marshall Islands with promises of legitimate work and are subsequently forced into prostitution
    tier rating: Tier 3 – The Marshall Islands do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government made no anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, including developing a written plan to combat trafficking; no new trafficking investigations were opened in 2014, and no prosecutions or convictions were made for the fourth consecutive year; no efforts were made to identify trafficking victims, especially among women in prostitution or men working on foreign fishing vessels in Marshallese waters, and no attempt was made to ensure their access to protective services; limited awareness-raising events were conducted by an international organization (2015)