macrohistory & world report

Republic of the Marshall Islands


The Republic of the Marshall Islands
(capital Majuro) and neighboring states

Location of Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands (capital Majuro). Bikini atoll, underlined in red, was used as a nuclear test sight more than twenty times between 1946 and 1958 and is still, as of 2011, unfit for human habitation.

World Factbook as of November 2014: "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. Under the amended Compact, the US is also funding, jointly with the Marshall Islands, a Trust Fund for the people of the Marshall Islands that will provide an income stream beyond 2024 when direct Compact aid is to end."

Estimated per capita GDP (2009 US dollars)
2013: $8,700
2008: $2,500 (2009 US dollars)

Majuro, the capital and the main population center has a port, shopping district, hotels, and an international airport.


The 30 percent who do not live on the Majuro atoll or the main population center on the Kwajalein atoll, rely on small-scale agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods.

Total population
July 2014: 70,983
July 2011: 67,182

Population growth rate
2014: 1.27%, 47th among 224 countries.

Birth and death rates per 1,000 population per year
2014: 26.36 / 4.24
2011: 29.11 / 4.38

Average life expectancy at birth:
2014: 72.58
2011: 71.76
2005: 70.01

Infant mortality (deaths before the age of one year per 1,000 live births)
2011: 23.74)
2008: 26.36

Net migration rate per year per 1,000 population
2014: a net loss of 4.92 persons (around 350 persons).
2011: a net loss of 5.19 persons.
2008: a net loss of 5.52 persons.


Two island chains of 29 atolls, each made up of many small islets, and five single islands in the North Pacific Ocean. Their land areas add to 181.3 square kilometers, equivalent to 13.5 by 13.5 kilometers, or roughly 8.5 by 8.5 miles.

Population of Majuro, a coral atoll with a land area of 9.7 square kilometres (3.7 square miles) enclosing a lagoon of 295 square kilometres (114 square miles):
2004: 25,000

Population in Kwajalein Atoll on Ebeye Island:
Wikipedia 2011: More that 15,000, over 50% of them estimated to be under 18, on land about 2.1 miles long and 270 yards wide. "With crowded living conditions, an inadequate school system, and scarce clean water, Ebeye has been known by the unofficial title of "Slum of the Pacific." (You can view the island setting as part of a reef and its cheerful inhabitants with a Google image search.)

Wikipedia: "The climate is hot and humid, with a wet season from May to November. The islands occasionally suffer from typhoons. Many Pacific typhoons start in the Marshall Islands region and grow stronger as they move west toward the Mariana Islands and the Philippines."


The Republic of the Marshall Islands has a constitutional government in free association with the United States. It includes Bikini Atoll, the site of twenty-three atomic bomb tests by the United States between 1946 and 1958.

The chief of state and head of government is the president, elected to a four-year term by the legislature. The legislature is unicameral with 33 members elected by popular vote to four-year terms.

Capital: Majuro.

Recent History

1944: Japan had been ruling the islands. The United States invades and occupies the islands. A Japanese garrison of 5,100, cut off from their homeland, will die of hunger by August, 1945.

Wikipedia: "From 1946 to 1958, as the site of the Pacific Proving Grounds, the US tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, including the largest nuclear test the US ever conducted, Castle Bravo. In 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission regarded the Marshall Islands as 'by far the most contaminated place in the world'."

Since 1964, the Marshall Islands have been home to the US Army Base at Kwajalein. 

October 21, 1986: The Marshall Islands become independent of the US-administered United Nations trusteeship.

The United States and the Marshall Islands negotiated an Amended Compact that entered into force in 2004. Under the Amended Compact, the United States will give the Marshall Islands at least $57 million in US dollars every year until 2023. Under the Compact, the United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defence of the Marshall Islands, and the latter is obliged to refrain from taking actions that would be incompatible with this. The Marshall Islands has full control of all other domestic and foreign policy and its citizens can travel and work in the United States.

September 17, 2004: Washington has cut medical and environmental monitoring for islanders regarding past atomic bomb testing. The Marshall Islands' foreign minister, Gerald Zackios, describes the cuts as a severe blow to the relationship between the Marshall Islands and the United States.

December 25, 2008: A state of emergency has been declared in the Marshall Islands. The islands have been pounded three times in two weeks by powerful waves caused by storm surges and high tides. The floods have swamped the main urban centres of Majuro and Ebeye which are less than a metre above sea level.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.