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Marshall Islands: atolls in the Pacific Ocean

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The Marshall Islands (Republic of the Marshall Islands) are an archipelago in the north-central Pacific Ocean located north of the equator. This oceanic archipelago is part of the vast area of islands known as Micronesia. This island state is made up of two groups of coral islands, the Ratak or Sunrise islands (16 atolls) and the Ralik or Sunset islands (18 atolls). Being atolls, the islands are very low – their average altitude is two meters – which makes them very vulnerable to climate change. In fact, even a small rise in the level of the oceans would cause the islands to sink.


Among the main atolls of the Marshalls we find Kwajalein (28.5 sq km), Enewetak (27 sq km) and Jaluit (16.8 sq km). The Majuro atoll is home to the capital Dalap Uliga Darrit. The Marshall Islands are located along the alignment also composed of the archipelagos of the Gilbert and Tuvalu islands. The Bikini and Enewetak atolls were used by the USA between 1946 and 1958 as atomic polygons.

The islands were discovered by the Spanish navigator Diego de Saavedra in the 16th century, but took their name from the English explorer Marshall who visited them in the late 18th century. Nominally the islands were part of the Spanish empire, but in the late 19th century the Marshall Islands became a German colony. After the First World War they were a Japanese possession until the end of the Second World War.

The economy of the islands is linked to agriculture, copra, bananas, the bread tree, cassava, cocoa and fruit are produced. Among the most important activities are also fishing, financial activities and tourism. The main port and largest commercial center of the islands is located in the Jaluit atoll. While the most important administrative center of the Marshall Islands – the capital Dalap Uliga Darrit – is located in the Majuro atoll.

The Parliament of the Marshall Islands.

  • Area: 181 sqkm.
  • Population: 62,000 (2005 data) (Micronesians).
  • State Capital: Dalap Uliga Darrit (Majuro).
  • Language: Official languages are English and Marshallese.
  • Religion: Christian 100% (Protestant 90%, Catholic 9%).
  • Currency: American Dollar (USD).
  • Time: UTC +12 hours.

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