Marshall Islands

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MARSHALL ISLANDS is an archipelago of over 1,000 atolls and islets in eastern Micronesia to Kiribati‘s northwest in the western Pacific Ocean, which were almost uninhabited until the 1880s. The cli­mate is tropical maritime with little temperature variation, and rainfall is at its heaviest from July to October.

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The islands have undergone numerous changes of sovereignty. Germany bought them from Spain, and then they fell under Japanese rule until the Second World War when the USA captured them. In 1947, they became a trusteeship of the USA, and they achieved full independence in 1979.

The republic remains in free association with the USA, which has retained military bases on the islands (the Bikini Atoll used as a nuclear testing area in 1946). The USA’s payment of rent contributes to the country’s economy, which otherwise depends upon agriculture and fishing, with copra as the main export.

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Lying in the west-central part of the Pacific Ocean, the Marshall Islands are comprised of 1,152 islands (five of which are major islands) and 29 atolls, which form two almost parallel, chain-like formations known as the Sunrise (Ratak), or Eastern, group and the Sunset (Ralik), or Western, group. Most of the islands have an atoll formation, namely, narrow strips of low-lying land enclosing a lagoon.

Located in the central Pacific Ocean, the Marshall Islands have 870 reef systems with about 160 coral species. The ocean floor around the Marshall Islands is also the final resting place of numerous Japanese and American battleships, sunk during World War II (1939-45). The Marshall Islands feature many white-sand beaches.

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