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 on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.

Geography Marshall Islands
Location: 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: Oceania
Area: total: 181.3 sq km
land: 181.3 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik
Area – comparative: about the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 370.4 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot and humid; wet season from May to November; 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: coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals
Land use: arable land: 16.67%
permanent crops: 38.89%
other: 44.44% (2001)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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
Population: 59,071 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.2% (male 11,488/female 11,071)
15-64 years: 59.1% (male 17,887/female 17,023)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 771/female 831) (2005 est.)
Median age: total: 19.95 years
male: 19.98 years
female: 19.92 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.27% (2005 est.)
Birth rate: 33.52 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate: 4.88 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate: -5.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 29.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 33.05 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 25.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.01 years
male: 68.05 years
female: 72.06 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.93 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese
Ethnic groups: Micronesian
Religions: 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)
Languages: Marshallese 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)
note: English widely spoken as a second language; both Marshallese and English are official languages
Literacy: 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 and the Amended Compact entered into force in May 2004
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: Constitution Day, 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 5 January 2004); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Kessai Hesa NOTE (since 5 January 2004); 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 17 November 2003 (next to be held November 2007)
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 17 November 2003 (next to be held not later than November 2007)
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 TOMEING] Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACP, AsDB, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, IDA, IFC, IMF, IMO, Interpol, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, 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 Greta N. MORRIS
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, primarily subsistence, 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 Amended Compact of Free Association, the US will provide millions of dollars per year to the Marshall Islands (RMI) through 2023, at which time a Trust Fund made up of US and RMI contributions will begin perpetual annual payouts. 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.
GDP (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.)
Labor force: 28,700 (1996 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 21.4%, industry 20.9%, services 57.7%
Unemployment rate: 30.9% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $42 million
expenditures: $40 million, including capital expenditures of NA (1999)
Agriculture – products: coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens
Industries: copra, tuna processing, tourism, craft items from shell, wood, and pearls
Industrial production growth rate: NA
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 99%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1% (solar)
Exports: $9 million f.o.b. (2000)
Exports – commodities: copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish
Exports – partners: US, Japan, Australia, China (2000)
Imports: $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 (2000)
Debt – external: $86.5 million (FY99/00 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: more than $1 billion from the US, 1986-2002
Currency (code): US dollar (USD)
Currency code: USD
Exchange rates: the US dollar is the legal tender
Fiscal year: 1 October – 30 September
Communications Marshall Islands
Telephones – main lines in use: 4,500 (2003)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 600 (2002)
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: country code – 692; 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)
Radios: NA
Television broadcast stations: 2 (both are US military stations) (2002) Televisions: NA
Internet country code: .mh
Internet hosts: 6 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2002)
Internet users: 1,400 (2003)
Transportation Marshall Islands
Highways: total: 64.5 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: Majuro
Merchant marine: total: 540 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 16,954,092 GRT/28,176,762 DWT
by type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 83, cargo 47, chemical tanker 77, combination ore/oil 12, container 88, liquefied gas 16, passenger 8, petroleum tanker 192, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 6, vehicle carrier 5
foreign-owned: 462 (Australia 1, Bahamas 1, Bermuda 1, Canada 4, Chile 2, Croatia 2, Cyprus 7, Denmark 2, Georgia 1, Germany 124, Greece 106, Hong Kong 7, India 1, Italy 1, Japan 5, Latvia 6, Monaco 9, Netherlands 4, New Zealand 1, Norway 21, Philippines 1, Russia 1, Saudi Arabia 1, Singapore 2, Slovenia 2, Spain 1, Switzerland 5, Taiwan 1, Turkey 11, Ukraine 1, UAE 3, United Kingdom 15, United States 112) (2005)
Airports: 15 (2004 est.)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Military Marshall Islands
Military branches: no regular military forces; Marshall Islands Police
Military expenditures – dollar figure: NA
Military expenditures – percent of GDP: NA
Military – note: defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues Marshall Islands
Disputes – international: claims US territory of Wake Island

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CIA World Factsbook;