Marshall Islands

 

After almost four decades under US administration as the easternmost part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Marshall Islands attained independence in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association. Compensation claims continue as a result of US nuclear testing on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defence network.

 

Geography:
Location: Oceania, two archipelagic island chains of 29 atolls, each made up of many small islets, and five single islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and Australia
Geographic coordinates: 9 00 N, 168 00 E
People:
Population: 68,480 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.2% (male 13,062/female 12,576)

15-64 years: 58.8% (male 20,171/female 19,340)

65 years and over: 3% (male 988/female 1,045) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands

conventional short form: Marshall Islands

local long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands

local short form: Marshall Islands

abbreviation: RMI

former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Marshall Islands District

Government type: constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force 21 October 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force in May 2004
Capital: name: Majuro

geographic coordinates: 7 06 N, 171 23 E

time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 4,400 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 3,800 (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 15 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: no regular military forces; under the 1983 Compact of Free Association, the US has full authority and responsibility for security and defence of the Marshall Islands; Marshall Islands Police (2009)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 16,446 (2010 est.)

Economy:

US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. The Marshall Islands received more than $1 billion in aid from the US from 1986-2002. Agricultural production, primarily subsistence, is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna processing, and copra. The tourist industry, now a small source of foreign exchange employing less than 10% of the labour force, remains the best hope for future added income. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. Under the terms of the Amended Compact of Free Association, the US will provide millions of dollars per year to the Marshall Islands (RMI) through 2023, at which time a Trust Fund made up of US and RMI contributions will begin perpetual annual pay-outs. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, the decline in tourism, and less income from the renewal of fishing vessel licenses have held GDP growth to an average of 1% over the past decade.