The Marshall Islands, officially The Republic of the Marshall Islands: island country located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line. Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country’s population of 55,000 people is spread out over 29 coral atolls, comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets. The islands share maritime boundaries with the Federated States of Micronesia to the west, Wake Island to the north, Kiribati to the southeast, and Nauru to the south.
The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in 1979 provided independence to the Marshall Islands, whose constitution and president (Amata Kabua) were formally recognized by the US. Full sovereignty or Self-government was achieved in a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Marshall Islands has been a United Nations member state since 1991. Politically, the Marshall Islands is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defense, subsidies, and access to U.S.-based agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Postal Service.
HISTORY: Micronesian colonists reached the Marshall Islands using canoes circa 2nd millennium BC, with inter-island navigation made possible using traditional stick charts. Islands in the archipelago were first explored by Europeans in the 1520s, starting with Ferdinand Magellan of Portugal and Miguel de Saavedra of Spain. The islands derive their name from British explorer John Marshall, who visited in 1788. The islands were historically known by the inhabitants as “jolet jen Anij” (Gifts from God).
GEOGRAPHY: The Marshall Islands sit atop ancient submerged volcanoes rising from the ocean floor, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, north of Nauru and Kiribati, east of the Federated States of Micronesia, and south of the territory of Wake Island. The atolls and islands form two groups: the Ratak (sunrise) and the Ralik (sunset). The two island chains lie approximately parallel to one another, running northwest to southeast, comprising about 750,000 square miles (1,900,000 km2) of ocean but only about 70 square miles (180 km2) of land mass; comparatively, appr the size of Washington, DC. The country consists of a total of 29 atolls and five isolated islands situated in about 180,000 square miles (470,000 km2) of the Pacific. The largest atoll with a land area of 6 square miles (16 km2) is Kwajalein.
CLIMATE: tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt
TERRAIN: low coral limestone and sand islands.
ELEVATION: 2 m
GDP: US$ 189 mil (2017 est.)
GDP per capita: US$ 3,400 (2017 est)
GDP COMPOSITION: Agriculture 4.4%, Industry: 9.9%, Services: 85.7% (2013 estimates)
MARITIME: The Marshall Islands is a major trans-shipment center for fish, especially tuna. Marshall Islands is among the top five ship registries worldwide with appr. 3,500 vessels being registered in the Marshall Islands. International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI) provide administrative and technical support to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Maritime and Corporate Registries.
FLAG: Blue with two stripes radiating from the lower hoist-side corner – orange (top) and white; a white star with four large rays and 20 small rays appears on the hoist side above the two stripes; blue represents the Pacific Ocean, the orange stripe signifies the Ralik Chain or sunset and courage, while the white stripe signifies the Ratak Chain or sunrise and peace; the star symbolizes the cross of Christianity, each of the 24 rays designates one of the electoral districts in the country and the four larger rays highlight the principal cultural centers of Majuro, Jaluit, Wotje, and Ebeye; the rising diagonal band can also be interpreted as representing the equator, with the star showing the archipelago’s position just to the north.
NOTABLE WORDS IN THE MARSHALLESE LANGUAGE:
Welcome! – Iokwe!
Thank you! – Kommol tata!
Sources: Wiki Commons, CIA Factbook, IRI website, Karatzas Marine Advisors.
More Images from Marshall Islands can be found by clicking here (Karatzas Photographie Maritime, May 13th, 2018)!
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