Australia - Oceania :: Marshall Islands
  • Introduction :: 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 conducted on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962 (67 tests total). 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 that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system (the others are at Cape Canaveral, Florida (US), on Ascension (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), and at Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory)).
  • Geography :: Marshall Islands
  • Location:
    Oceania, consists of 29 atolls and five isolated islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia; the atolls and islands are situated in two, almost-parallel island chains - the Ratak (Sunrise) group and the Ralik (Sunset) group; the total number of islands and islets is about 1,225; 22 of the atolls and four of the islands are uninhabited
    Geographic coordinates:
    9 00 N, 168 00 E
    Map references:
    Oceania
    Area:
    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
    Area - comparative:
    about the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries:
    0 km
    Coastline:
    370.4 km
    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    Climate:
    tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt
    Terrain:
    low coral limestone and sand islands
    Elevation:
    mean elevation: 2 m
    lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: East-central Airik Island, Maloelap Atoll 14 m
    Natural resources:
    coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals
    Land use:
    agricultural land: 50.7% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 7.8% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 31.2% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 11.7% (2011 est.)
    forest: 49.3% (2011 est.)
    other: 0% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land:
    0 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution:
    most people live in urban clusters found on many of the country's islands; more than two-thirds of the population lives on the atolls of Majuro and Ebeye
    Natural hazards:
    infrequent typhoons
    Environment - current issues:
    inadequate supplies of potable water; pollution of Majuro lagoon from household waste and discharges from fishing vessels; sea level rise
    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
    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
  • People and Society :: Marshall Islands
  • Population:
    77,917 (July 2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 200
    Nationality:
    noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
    adjective: Marshallese
    Ethnic groups:
    Marshallese 92.1%, mixed Marshallese 5.9%, other 2% (2006)
    Languages:
    Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)

    note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language

    Religions:
    Protestant 80.5% (United Church of Christ 47%, Assembly of God 16.2%, Bukot Nan Jesus 5.4%, Full Gospel 3.3%, Reformed Congressional Church 3%, Salvation Army 1.9%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.4%, Meram in Jesus 1.2%, other Protestant 1.1%), Roman Catholic 8.5%, Mormon 7%, Jehovah's Witness 1.7%,  other 1.2%, none 1.1% (2011 est.)
    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 32.94% (male 13,090/female 12,575)
    15-24 years: 19.09% (male 7,568/female 7,308)
    25-54 years: 37.35% (male 14,834/female 14,270)
    55-64 years: 5.92% (male 2,269/female 2,341)
    65 years and over: 4.7% (male 1,805/female 1,857) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age:
    total: 23.8 years
    male: 23.6 years
    female: 23.9 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Population growth rate:
    1.43% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    Birth rate:
    22.8 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
    Death rate:
    4.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Net migration rate:
    -4.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 193
    Population distribution:
    most people live in urban clusters found on many of the country's islands; more than two-thirds of the population lives on the atolls of Majuro and Ebeye
    Urbanization:
    urban population: 77.8% of total population (2020)
    rate of urbanization: 0.61% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population:
    31,000 MAJURO (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 17.4 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 19.7 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 15.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 74.1 years
    male: 71.8 years
    female: 76.5 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Total fertility rate:
    2.86 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 58
    Drinking water source:
    improved: urban: 99.8% of population
    rural: 99.7% of population
    total: 99.8% of population
    unimproved: urban: 0.2% of population
    rural: 0.3% of population
    total: 0.2% of population (2017 est.)
    Current Health Expenditure:
    16.4% (2017)
    Physicians density:
    0.42 physicians/1,000 population (2012)
    Hospital bed density:
    2.7 beds/1,000 population (2010)
    Sanitation facility access:
    improved: urban: 96.3% of population
    rural: 65.4% of population
    total: 89.1% of population
    unimproved: urban: 15.5% of population
    rural: 34.6% of population
    total: 10.9% of population (2017 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    NA
    Major infectious diseases:
    degree of risk: high (2020)
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
    vectorborne diseases: malaria
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate:
    52.9% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
    11.9% (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 55
    Education expenditures:
    NA
    Literacy:
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 98.3%
    male: 98.3%
    female: 98.2% (2011)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
    total: 11%
    male: 12.2%
    female: 8.7% (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 118
  • Government :: Marshall Islands
  • Country name:
    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
    former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Marshall Islands District
    abbreviation: RMI
    etymology: named after British Captain John MARSHALL, who charted many of the islands in 1788
    Government type:
    mixed presidential-parliamentary system in free association with the US
    Capital:
    name: Majuro; note - the capital is an atoll of 64 islands; governmental buildings are housed on three fused islands on the eastern side of the atoll: 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)
    etymology: Majuro means "two openings" or "two eyes" and refers to the two major northern passages through the atoll into the Majuro lagoon
    Administrative divisions:
    24 municipalities; Ailinglaplap, Ailuk, Arno, Aur, Bikini & Kili, Ebon, Enewetak & Ujelang, Jabat, Jaluit, Kwajalein, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Majuro, Maloelap, Mejit, Mili, Namorik, Namu, Rongelap, Ujae, Utrik, Wotho, Wotje
    Independence:
    21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)
    National holiday:
    Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)
    Constitution:
    history: effective 1 May 1979
    amendments: proposed by the National Parliament or by a constitutional convention; passage by Parliament requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the total membership in each of two readings and approval by a majority of votes in a referendum; amendments submitted by a constitutional convention require approval of at least two thirds of votes in a referendum; amended several times, last in 1995
    International law organization participation:
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    Citizenship:
    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
    Suffrage:
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch:
    chief of state: President David KABUA (since  13 January 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President David KABUA (since 13 January 2020)
    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 6 January 2020 (next to be held in 2024)
    election results: David KABUA elected president; Parliament vote - David KABUA 20, Hilda C. HEINE 12
    Legislative branch:
    description: bicameral National Parliament consists of:
    Council of Iroij, a 12-member group of tribal leaders advises the Presidential Cabinet and reviews legislation affecting customary law or any traditional practice); members appointed to serve 1-year terms
    Nitijela (33 seats; members in 19 single- and 5 multi-seat constituencies directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - legislative power resides in the Nitijela
    elections: last held on 18 November 2019 (next to be held by November 2023)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independent 33
    Judicial branch:
    highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 2 associate justices)
    judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the Cabinet upon the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (consists of the chief justice of the High Court, the attorney general and a private citizen selected by the Cabinet) and upon approval of the Nitijela; the current chief justice, appointed in 2013, serves for 10 years; Marshallese citizens appointed as justices serve until retirement at age 72
    subordinate courts: High Court; District Courts; Traditional Rights Court; Community Courts
    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 [Imata KABUA] and United Democratic Party or UDP [Litokwa TOMEING]
    International organization participation:
    ACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO
    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    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)
    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Karen Brevard STEWART (since 25 July 2016)
    telephone: [692] 247-4011
    embassy: Oceanside, Mejen Weto, Long Island, Majuro
    mailing address: P. O. Box 1379, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands 96960-1379
    FAX: [692] 247-4012
    Flag description:
    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
    National symbol(s):
    a 24-rayed star; national colors: blue, white, orange
    National anthem:
    name: Forever Marshall Islands
    lyrics/music: Amata KABUA

    note: adopted 1981

  • Economy :: Marshall Islands
  • Economy - overview:

    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.

    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $196 million (2017 est.)
    $191.3 million (2016 est.)
    $184.6 million (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 221
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $222 million (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate:
    2.5% (2017 est.)
    3.6% (2016 est.)
    2% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 130
    GDP - per capita (PPP):
    $3,600 (2017 est.)
    $3,500 (2016 est.)
    $3,400 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 186
    GDP - composition, by end use:
    government consumption: 50% (2016 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 17.8% (2016 est.)
    investment in inventories: 0.2% (2016 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 52.9% (2016 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -102.3% (2016 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
    agriculture: 4.4% (2013 est.)
    industry: 9.9% (2013 est.)
    services: 85.7% (2013 est.)
    Agriculture - products:
    coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens
    Industries:
    copra, tuna processing, tourism, craft items (from seashells, wood, and pearls)
    Industrial production growth rate:
    NA
    Labor force:
    10,670 (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 11%
    industry: 16.3%
    services: 72.7% (2011 est.)
    Unemployment rate:
    36% (2006 est.)
    30.9% (2000 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Population below poverty line:
    NA
    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Budget:
    revenues: 116.7 million (2013 est.)
    expenditures: 113.9 million (2013 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues:
    52.6% (of GDP) (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 13
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
    1.3% (of GDP) (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    Public debt:
    25.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
    30% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Fiscal year:
    1 October - 30 September
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    0% (2017 est.)
    -1.5% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 11
    Current account balance:
    -$1 million (2017 est.)
    $15 million (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    Exports:
    $0 (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 223
    Exports - commodities:
    copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish
    Imports:
    $103.8 million (2016 est.)
    $133.7 million (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 216
    Imports - commodities:
    foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages, tobacco
    Debt - external:
    $97.96 million (2013 est.)
    $87 million (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 193
    Exchange rates:

    the US dollar is used

  • Energy :: Marshall Islands
  • Electricity access:
    electrification - total population: 93.1% (2016)
    electrification - urban areas: 94.6% (2016)
    electrification - rural areas: 89.1% (2016)
    Electricity - production:
    650 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    Electricity - consumption:
    604.5 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 167
    Electricity - exports:
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 168
    Electricity - imports:
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    Electricity - installed generating capacity:
    52,000 kW (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 190
    Electricity - from fossil fuels:
    81% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 81
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels:
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 140
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:
    19% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    Electricity - from other renewable sources:
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    Crude oil - production:
    0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    Crude oil - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    Crude oil - imports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    Crude oil - proved reserves:
    0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 167
    Refined petroleum products - production:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 175
    Refined petroleum products - consumption:
    2,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    Refined petroleum products - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    Refined petroleum products - imports:
    2,060 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 190
    Natural gas - production:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 168
    Natural gas - consumption:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Natural gas - exports:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Natural gas - imports:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
    293,700 Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 192
  • Communications :: Marshall Islands
  • Telephones - fixed lines:
    total subscriptions: 2,361
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    Telephones - mobile cellular:
    total subscriptions: 16,000
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Telecommunication systems:
    general assessment: some telecom infrastructure improvements made in recent years; modern services include fiber optic cable service, cellular, Internet, international calling, caller ID, and leased data circuits; the US Government, World Bank, UN and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), have aided in improvements and monetary aid to the islands telecom; mobile penetrations is around 30%; radio communication is especially vital to remote islands (2018)
    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; fixed-line 3 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular is 21 per 100 persons (2018)
    international: country code - 692; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein
    note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Broadcast media:
    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 (2019)
    Internet country code:
    .mh
    Internet users:
    total: 29,290
    percent of population: 38.7% (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions:
    total: 1,000
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 196
    Communications - note:
    Kwajalein hosts one of four dedicated ground antennas that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system (the others are at Cape Canaveral, Florida (US), on Ascension (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), and at Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory))
  • Military and Security :: Marshall Islands
  • Military and security forces:
    no regular military forces; Marshall Islands Police Department (2019)
    Military - note:
    defense is the responsibility of the US
  • Transportation :: Marshall Islands
  • National air transport system:
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 24,313 (2018)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 130,000 mt-km (2018)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix:
    V7 (2016)
    Airports:
    15 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 4 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2017)
    914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)
    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total: 11 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 10 (2013)
    under 914 m: 1 (2013)
    Roadways:
    total: 2,028 km (2007)
    paved: 75 km (2007)
    unpaved: 1,953 km
    country comparison to the world: 171
    Merchant marine:
    total: 3,537
    by type: bulk carrier 1,537, container ship 257, general cargo 66, oil tanker 856, other 821 (2019)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Enitwetak Island, Kwajalein, Majuro
  • Transnational Issues :: Marshall Islands
  • Disputes - international:

    claims US territory of Wake Island

    Trafficking in persons:
    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)