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The Marshall Islands have been inhabited since around the 2nd millennium BC by people from elsewhere in Micronesia.
Japan had some contact with the Marshall Islands for trade and fishing throughout its history, but during World War I, troops from Japan occupied parts of the Marshall Islands, and after the war, Germany renounced its island territories in the Pacific. Japan took over these former colonies in 1920, and many Japanese people migrated to the Marshall Islands, and the indigenous people began to be assimilated into Japanese culture. Japan built military bases on the islands, which served as an important center for Japan's military during World War II. The United States occupied the Marshall Islands in 1944, and attacked the bases there. Under US control, the Marshall Islands served as testing grounds for nuclear weapons. The US dropped its first hydrogen bomb in the Marshall Islands, destroying Enewetak atoll.
The Marshall Islands became self-governing in 1979 and the Republic of the Marshall Islands became sovereign, though it was made official by the UN in 1990.
The Marshall Islands are located near Nauru, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Wake Island.
The Marshall Islands are an archipelago made up of around 30 atolls, along with 5 main separate islands in the North Pacific Ocean (Oceania) and over 1,000 islands in all. These atolls and islands are divided into the Ratak Chain and the Ralik chain, with the Ratak on the eastern side and the Ralik islands on the western side of the archipelago. Some of the main atolls in the Marshall Islands include Bikini Atoll, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik. Twenty-four of the islands are permanently inhabited, but two-thirds of the Marshall Islands' population live on Majuro or Ebeye.
As islands in the Pacific, the Marshall Islands are fairly flat lands with mostly sandy terrain and a tropical climate. Some of the islands have coral reefs or are built up of coral limestone. There are no significant rivers in the Marshall islands.
Points of Interest
The Marshall Islands are not very developed as a tourist destination, but its main attraction is certainly its many tropical beaches and isolated islands, some of which are still largely undisturbed and waiting to be explored. Tours of the islands, including day trips or multi-day trips to various islands can be arranged. There are also some resorts for visitors, as well as restaurants and nightlife options. Some islands or parts of islands are restricted as military centers, including some of the historic sites like those from World War II on Kwajalein.
Because the Marshall Islands are located about halfway between the Hawaiian Islands of the United States and Australia, the only practical way of reaching them is by plane. Flights are available by way of Hawaii or Guam, and sometimes the Federated States of Micronesia or Fiji. The main airport in the Marshall Islands is Majuro International Airport (also known as Amata Kabua) in Majuro. To get between the islands, there are some small airports, but this is not always an easy way to travel, though it is much faster than travel by boat. Some ships offer transport for passengers between islands, but it can take a very long time. Once visitors arrive on the islands, there are taxis available and infrequent bus service, and some rental cars. There are not many roads, but many places are walkable and locals will typically give others a lift.
Last Updated on : December 10, 2013
Lat Long7.2971° N, 168.7061° E
Official LanguageEnglish, Marshallese
Major ReligionIslam is by far the largest and most influential religion in the country, and has been since the 10th century. According to government census, 100% of the country's citizens are Muslim. Like much of North Africa, Mauritanians follow the Maliki school of Islam.
Form of GovernmentUnitary presidential democratic republic
CurrencyUnited States dollar
GDP$115 million 2001 estimate
Time ZoneMHT (UTC+12)