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  • [Country flag of Marshall Islands]

    Marshall Islands

    [Country map of Marshall Islands]

    Geography

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

    Geographic coordinates: 9 00 N, 168 00 E

    Map references: Oceania

    Area:
    total: 181.3 sq km
    land: 181.3 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, and Kwajalein

    Area - comparative: about the size of Washington, DC

    Land boundaries: 0 km

    Coastline: 370.4 km

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

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

    Terrain: low coral limestone and sand islands

    Elevation extremes:
    lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: unnamed location on Likiep 10 m

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

    Land use:
    arable land: NA%
    permanent crops: 60%
    permanent pastures : NA%
    forests and woodland: NA%
    other: 40%

    Irrigated land: NA sq km

    Natural hazards: occasional typhoons

    Environment - current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water

    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

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

    People

    Population: 60,652 (July 1997 est.)

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 50% (male 15,550; female 14,926)
    15-64 years : 48% (male 14,732; female 14,032)
    65 years and over: 2% (male 662; female 750) (July 1997 est.)

    Population growth rate: 3.85% (1997 est.)

    Birth rate: 45.54 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Death rate: 7.07 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Sex ratio:
    at birth : 1.05 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-64 years : 1.05 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

    Infant mortality rate: 45.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 64.14 years
    male: 62.57 years
    female: 65.79 years (1997 est.)

    Total fertility rate: 6.78 children born/woman (1997 est.)

    Nationality:
    noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
    adjective: Marshallese

    Ethnic groups: 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:
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population : 93%
    male: 100%
    female: 88% (1980 est.)

    Government

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

    Data code: RM

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

    National 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: President Imata KABUA (since 14 January 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Imata KABUA (since 14 January 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president from among the members of Parliament
    elections: president elected by Parliament from among its own members for a four-year term; election last held 14 January 1997 (next to be held NA January 2000); note - Imata KABUA elected to succeed and complete the term of the late President Amata KABUA
    election results : Imata KABUA elected president; percent of Parliament vote - 63%

    Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Nitijela (33 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
    elections : last held 14 January 1997 (next to be held NA 2000; note - new elections will be held upon the completion of the term of the late President Amata KABUA)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA
    note : the Council of Chiefs is a 12-member body that advises on matters affecting customary law and practice

    Judicial branch: Supreme Court; High Court

    Political parties and leaders: traditionally there have been no formally organized political parties; what has existed more closely resembles factions or interest groups because they do not have party headquarters, formal platforms, or party structures; the following two "groupings" have competed in legislative balloting in recent years - Our Islands Party, leader NA, and Ralik/Ratak Democratic Party (RRDP), Ramsey REIMERS

    International organization participation: AsDB, ESCAP, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFC, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, ITU, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO

    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission : Ambassador Banny DE BRUM
    chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
    FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236
    consulate(s) general : Honolulu

    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Joan M. PLAISTED
    embassy: Oceanside, Long Island, Majuro
    mailing address: P. O. Box 1379, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands 96960-1379; Majuro, 20521-4380 (pouch)
    telephone : [692] 247-4011
    FAX: [692] 247-4012

    Flag description: 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

    Economy

    Economy - 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. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, fish processing, and copra. The tourist industry is the primary source of foreign exchange, employs about 10% of the labor force, and remains the best hope for future added income. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. The government is drafting economic reforms designed to increase revenue and compensate for reductions in US Government grants - in 1994, the US Government provided grants of $50 million, equal to 55% of the Marshall Islands' GDP. About 25% of the government's FY95/96 budget was devoted to debt repayment. In 1996, efforts to stabilize the economy included a 27% reduction in the government's work force and a 10% cut in the budget.

    GDP: purchasing power parity - $94 million (1995 est.)

    GDP - real growth rate: 1.5% (1995 est.)

    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,680 (1995 est.)

    GDP - composition by sector:
    agriculture: 16%
    industry: 14%
    services : 70% (1994)

    Inflation rate - consumer price index: 4% (1995 est.)

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

    Unemployment rate: 16% (1991 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues : $67.2 million
    expenditures: $79.6 million, including capital expenditures of $21.6 million (FY94/95 est.)

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

    Industrial production growth rate: NA%

    Electricity - capacity: 16,000 kW (1994)

    Electricity - production: 57 million kWh (1994)

    Electricity - consumption per capita: NA kWh

    Agriculture - products: coconuts, cacao, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens

    Exports:
    total value: $21.3 million (f.o.b., 1995 est.)
    commodities: fish, coconut oil, live animals, trochus shells
    partners: US, Japan, Australia

    Imports:
    total value: $69.9 million (c.i.f., 1995 est.)
    commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages and tobacco
    partners: US, Japan, Australia

    Debt - external: $170 million (1994)

    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

    Communications

    Telephones: 800 (1988 est.)

    Telephone system: telex services
    domestic: islands interconnected by shortwave radiotelephone (used mostly for government purposes)
    international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein

    Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 1

    Radios: NA

    Television broadcast stations: 1

    Televisions: NA

    Transportation

    Railways: 0 km

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

    Ports and harbors: Majuro

    Merchant marine:
    total: 94 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,040,788 GRT/6,780,092 DWT
    ships by type: bulk carrier 44, cargo 5, combination ore/oil 1, container 21, oil tanker 21, refrigerated cargo 1, vehicle carrier 1 (1996 est.)

    Airports: 16 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with paved runways:
    total : 9
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
    914 to 1,523 m: 1
    under 914 m: 5 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total : 7
    914 to 1,523 m: 7 (1996 est.)

    Military

    Military branches: no regular military forces (a coast guard may be established); Police Force

    Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US

    Transnational Issues

    Disputes - international: claims US territory of Wake Island