[Country map of Marshall Islands]

Marshall Islands


Location: Oceania, group of atolls and reefs in the North Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Papua New Guinea

Map references: Oceania

total area: 181.3 sq km
land area: 181.3 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Washington, DC
note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Eniwetak, and Kwajalein

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 370.4 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: claims US territory of Wake Island

Climate: wet season May to November; hot and humid; islands border typhoon belt

Terrain: low coral limestone and sand islands

Natural resources: phosphate deposits, marine products, deep seabed minerals

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 60%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 40%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water
natural hazards: occasional typhoons
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution

Note: two archipelagic island chains of 30 atolls and 1,152 islands; Bikini and Eniwetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein, the famous World War II battleground, is now used as a US missile test range


Population: 56,157 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 51% (female 13,950; male 14,547)
15-64 years: 47% (female 12,801; male 13,470)
65 years and over: 2% (female 740; male 649) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.86% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 46.03 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 7.48 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 48 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.49 years
male: 61.94 years
female: 65.11 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.89 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese

Ethnic divisions: Micronesian

Religions: Christian (mostly Protestant)

Languages: English (universally spoken and is the official language), two major Marshallese dialects from the Malayo-Polynesian family, Japanese

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1980)
total population: 93%
male: 100%
female: 88%

Labor force: 4,800 (1986)
by occupation: NA


conventional long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands
conventional short form: Marshall Islands
former: Marshall Islands District (Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)

Digraph: RM

Type: constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 21 October 1986

Capital: Majuro

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: 21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday: Proclamation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, 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 and head of government: President Amata KABUA (since 1979); election last held 6 January 1992 (next to be held NA); results - President Amata KABUA was reelected
cabinet: Cabinet; president selects from the parliament

Legislative branch: unicameral
Parliament (Nitijela): elections last held 18 November 1991 (next to be held November 1995); results - percent of vote NA; seats - (33 total) independents 33

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: no formal parties; President KABUA is chief political (and traditional) leader


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Wilfred I. KENDALL
chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236
consulate(s) general: Honolulu and Los Angeles

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador David C. FIELDS
embassy: address NA, Majuro
mailing address: P. O. Box 1379, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands 96960-1379
telephone: [692] 247-4011
FAX: [692] 247-4012

Flag: 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


Overview: Agriculture and tourism are the mainstays of the economy. Agricultural production is concentrated on small farms, and the most important commercial crops are coconuts, tomatoes, melons, and breadfruit. A few cattle ranches supply the domestic meat market. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, fish processing, and copra. The tourist industry is the primary source of foreign exchange and employs about 10% of the labor force. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. The US Government provides about 70% of the budget.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $75 million (1992 est.)

National product real growth rate: 6% (1992)

National product per capita: $1,500 (1992 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7% (1992 est.)

Unemployment rate: 16% (1991 est.)

revenues: $106 million
expenditures: $128.7 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1993)

Exports: $3.9 million (f.o.b., 1992 est.)
commodities: coconut oil, fish, live animals, trichus shells
partners: US, Japan, Australia

Imports: $62.9 million (c.i.f., 1992 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, beverages and tobacco, fuels
partners: US, Japan, Australia

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

capacity: 42,000 kW
production: 80 million kWh
consumption per capita: 1,840 kWh (1990)

Industries: copra, fish, tourism; craft items from shell, wood, and pearls; offshore banking (embryonic)

Agriculture: coconuts, cacao, taro, breadfruit, fruits, pigs, chickens

Economic aid:
recipient: under the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the US is to provide approximately $40 million in aid annually

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September


Railroads: 0 km

total: NA
note: paved roads on major islands (Majuro, Kwajalein), otherwise stone-, coral-, or laterite-surfaced roads and tracks

Ports: Majuro

Merchant marine:
total: 37 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,205,275 GRT/4,263,247 DWT
ships by type: bulk carrier 23, cargo 1, combination ore/oil 1, oil tanker 12

total: 16
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 5
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 6


Telephone system: 570 telephones (Majuro) and 186 telephones (Ebeye); telex services
local: NA
intercity: islands interconnected by shortwave radio (used mostly for government purposes)
international: 2 INTELSAT (Pacific Ocean) earth stations; US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 1
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: no regular military forces; Police

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US