Marshall Islands

 

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (march. Aolepān Aorōkin M̧ajeļ) is a Pacific state in Micronesia associated with the United States. It borders in the west and southwest with the waters of the Federated States of Micronesia, in the south with the waters of Kiribati, and in the remaining parts - with the neutral waters of the Pacific Ocean. The coastal strip is 370.4 km long. The Republic of Marshall Islands is located on 29 atolls and 5 islands of the Marshall Islands archipelago, consisting of Ralik and Ratak chains. Total land area - 181.3 km²; the territory occupied by the lagoons - 11 673 km². The population of the Marshall Islands is 57,045. (November 2018, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division). The capital is the city of Majuro.

The first island seen by Europeans was the Bocac Atoll, discovered by the Spanish navigator Alonso de Salazar in 1526. Subsequently, the Marshall Islands alternately became the territory of various colonial powers: in 1886 - Germany, in 1914 - Japan, which continued to rule the islands after the First World War already under the mandate of the League of Nations, in 1947 - were included in the UN Trusteeship under the control of the United States. As a public entity, the Marshall Islands arose in 1983 as a result of the division of the UN Pacific Trust Territory. Since 1986, the Islands have been in “free association” with the United States. Marshall Islands is a member of the United Nations, the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum.

 

Etymology

The Marshall Islands are named after British Captain John Marshall (also known as William Marshall), who, along with fellow Captain Thomas Gilbert, after whom the neighboring Gilbert Islands are named, explored the archipelago in 1788 while transporting prisoners to New South Wales.

 

Geography

The Micronesian state of the Marshall Islands is a cluster of atolls and islands located in the Pacific Ocean just north of the equator. The capital of the country, the city of Majuro, is located 3438 km west of the city of Honolulu, the capital of the US state of Hawaii, 3701 km southeast of Tokyo, the capital of Japan, and 3241 km southeast of the city of Saipan, the capital of the Northern Marianas. Islands. The nearest archipelagos are the Caroline Islands, which belong to the Federated States of Micronesia and are located southwest of the Marshall Islands, and the Gilbert Islands, which lie to the southeast and belong to the Republic of Kiribati.

The land area of ​​the Marshall Islands is only 181.3 km², while the area of ​​​​the territory occupied by lagoons is 11,673 km². The country is located on 29 atolls and 5 outlying islands, which are divided into two groups: 18 islands in the Ralik chain (translated from the Marshallese language "sunset") and 16 islands in the Ratak (or Radak; translated from the Marshallese language "sunrise") chain . Both chains are about 250 km apart and stretch from northwest to southeast for about 1200 km. The most important islands are the atolls of Kwajalein and Majuro. The largest island of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kwajalein, is also an atoll with the largest lagoon in the world. Despite the fact that its land area is only 16.32 km² (or 6.3 sq. miles), the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe lagoon is 2174 km² (or 839.3 sq. miles). All the islands are low-lying, and the atolls consist of a large number of motu, the total number of which in the country exceeds 1100. The highest point of the country, which reaches only 10 m, is located on the Likiep Atoll.

The northernmost island of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is the island of Bokak (or Taongi) in the Ratak chain: it is located 280 km northwest of the disputed Wake Atoll, now under US administration. The southernmost island of the Marshall Islands is Ebon Atoll, the westernmost is Ujelang (they are both located in the Ralik chain), and the easternmost is Knox in the Ratak chain.

 

Geology

Twenty-nine of the thirty-four islands of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are atolls (the rest of the islands are raised atolls). According to the theory of Charles Darwin, the formation of atolls occurred as a result of the subsidence of volcanic islands, near the surface of which corals gradually grew. A fringing reef was formed, and subsequently a barrier reef, which was gradually built up by corals. As a result, the land of the atoll arose. Coral and algae growth was most active in the areas of the reef facing the ocean, as a result, these outer edges of the reef kept pace with the subsidence of the volcanic island. The inner regions of the island, on the contrary, were submerged under water. Subsequently, shallow lagoons formed in these places.

Sand gradually accumulated on the surface of the reefs, which was formed under the influence of waves and currents, especially during strong tides. In the tidal zone of the beach, coastal rock was formed, an outer inclined layer of stones. As a result, land plants had a support on which they could grow. On the island, vegetation resistant to high salt content in the soil was formed, which with its roots held together various sedimentary rocks and prevented water and wind erosion. This is how the sand islands, or motu, of the atoll were formed.

A raised atoll is a raised volcanic island resulting from the uplift of a coral platform, or macatea, that surrounds the volcanic plateau at the center of the island.

Minerals, the development of which could be carried out on an industrial scale, are absent on the surface and in the depths of the Marshall Islands. However, in the course of preliminary studies, phosphorites were found on some islands, and accumulations of ferromanganese nodules, as well as cobalt, were found within the territorial waters of the country. However, no development is currently underway.

 

Climate

A distinctive feature of the regional climate of the Marshall Islands is the change in climatic conditions from north to south, including an increase in precipitation in this direction. In the northern islands of the country, the climate is tropical, semi-arid. For example, on the northernmost atoll of the Marshall Islands, Bocaca, it is practically semi-desert, although the amount of precipitation falling on it is close to that of the western prairies of the United States. This is due to several factors: soil porosity, salt fog and saline groundwater. Rainfall in the Marshall Islands increases as you move south and reaches its maximum on Ebon Atoll, the country's southernmost island located in the equatorial belt.

Another important climatic feature of the local climate is the location of the Marshall Islands in the zone of northeast trade winds. During most of the year, the islands are dominated by winds blowing from the northeast. They are characterized by high humidity. All but the northernmost islands experience frequent showers.

Tropical storms and hurricanes, or typhoons, are typical, though rare, of the archipelago, during which there is heavy rainfall, strong winds that break trees and destroy homes, and high waves that threaten to wash away low-lying islets. Droughts happen. The most common cause of climate change is El Niño.

Monthly rainfall in the Marshall Islands is about 300-380 mm. On the northern islands of the country, from 1000 to 1750 mm of precipitation falls annually, on the southern - 3000-4300 mm. On the northern islands, the heaviest rains occur from September to November, while on the southern islands they fall all year round.

The temperature regime in the archipelago remains constant throughout the year. The difference between the coldest and warmest month is 1-2°C. The lowest nighttime temperatures are usually 2-4°C above the lowest daytime temperature. The average annual temperature in the Marshall Islands is 27.8°C.

 

Soils and hydrology

The soils of the Marshall Islands are highly alkaline, of coral origin (mostly white or pink coral sand), and very poor. Usually they are porous, which is why they retain moisture very poorly. Also, local soils contain very little organic and mineral matter, with the exception of calcium.

Permanent bodies of fresh water are a rarity in the Marshall Islands. Running water on the islands is completely absent; small streams of water are formed only after heavy rains. Groundwater is found on almost all atolls, except for the northernmost ones, where the climate is the most arid. Seeping through the porous soil, rainwater forms a lens of slightly brackish water. You can get to it by digging a well. Due to the negligible water inflow into these lenses and the prolonged tidal fluctuations, the lenses are relatively thin, as is the zone of mixing of fresh and sea water. On some atolls of the country, where the climate is the most humid, there are small, mostly brackish, ponds, which were formed as a result of the isolation of a separate section of the lagoon and the constant mixing of lagoon salt water with fresh rainwater. One of the freshwater bodies of water, Lake Lieb exists on the island of the same name in the Ralik chain.

 

Flora and fauna

Only a few uninhabited islands of the archipelago have preserved forests in which vegetation typical of atolls grows. On the rest of the island ecosystems have undergone significant changes under the influence of the anthropogenic factor: most of the local flora was destroyed, and plantations of coconut palm and breadfruit were planted instead of indigenous plants. Other atolls suffered from military operations: from 1946 to the 1960s, Americans tested nuclear weapons on Bikini and Enewetok. In 1954, the United States, codenamed Bravo, tested its first hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll. The explosion was 1000 times more powerful than the explosion in Hiroshima, and radioactive fallout from it fell on neighboring islands. Nuclear tests have caused enormous damage to the ecosystems of the islands.

In recent years, local flora and fauna have been threatened by rising sea levels caused by global warming. It leads to groundwater pollution, land retreat in front of the ocean.

The Marshall Islands are home to 80 plant species, of which one species is endemic to the archipelago and two to Micronesia. The most common species is the coconut palm, which covers approximately 60% of the archipelago's land mass. This plant plays a key role in the life of the islanders: on the one hand, it is a source of wood, on the other hand, it forms the basis of the diet of the Marshallese. From the oily endosperm of the nuts, copra is produced, which is the main export of the country. Other important plants for the locals include pandanus, breadfruit, taro and bananas. Pisonia and tourneforcia mainly grow in the island forests. There are mangroves.

The most important representatives of the local fauna are seabirds. On many northern islands, Bikar, Bokak, Bikini, green turtles (lat. Chelonia mydas) lay their eggs, but the previously widespread hawksbill sea turtle (lat. Eretmochelys imbricata) has become rare in local waters. Of the terrestrial reptiles on the islands, there are 4 species of skink lizards and an Indian monitor lizard. Many of the Marshall Islands are large bird colonies where seabirds nest (106 bird species in total). The only terrestrial birds in the country are the Pacific fruit-eating pigeon (lat. Ducula oceanica) and the purple-capped spotted pigeon (lat. Ptilinopus porphyraceus), now extinct on most of the islands. All nine mammal species have been introduced to the Marshall Islands.

The coastal waters of the islands are very rich in fish (about 250 species) and corals (about 146 species).

There are no nature reserves or protected areas in the country.

 

History

Very little is known about the early history of the Marshall Islands. Presumably, the islands were inhabited about 2000 years ago by immigrants from Southeast Asia.

The first island seen by Europeans was Bocaq Atoll, discovered by the Spanish navigator Alonso de Salazar in 1526. However, the archipelago remained unnamed until 1788, when the islands were rediscovered by the British captain John Marshall, after whom they were named. Subsequently, ships of many states sailed past the Marshall Islands, but none of them made territorial claims for the purpose of annexation. In the 1860s, the first immigrants from Germany began to appear on the islands. During these years, German trading companies developed a whole network of trade in copra and other goods. In 1885, the archipelago was annexed by the German Empire, despite claims from Spain. Management on behalf of the empire was carried out by the Jaluit company from Hamburg.

During the First World War, in September 1914, Japan occupied part of Micronesia that belonged to Germany, including the Marshall Islands. Since then, the islands remained under the control of Japan until the occupation of the archipelago by the Americans during the Second World War. Since 1920, the Marshall Islands have been administered by Japan under a League of Nations mandate.

After a brief occupation of the islands by the US Army, the UN entrusted the administration of the Marshall Islands to the United States as a Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Soon, a US strategic military base appeared on the Kwajalein Atoll, from where nuclear weapons tests were carried out on the Bikini and Eniwetok atolls, which were carried out from 1946 to 1958.

In 1979, the archipelago received limited autonomy, and in 1986 the Treaty of Free Association was signed with the United States, according to which the United States recognized the independence of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic, in turn, granted the United States military the right to be in the country; all military bases were also preserved. The defense of the country became the responsibility of the United States. In 1990, the United Nations recognized the independence of the Marshall Islands.

The association agreement expired in September 2001. After two years of negotiations, in 2003, the contract was extended.

 

Administrative division

During the years of the Trust Territory, the Pacific Islands of the Marshall Islands constituted one district.

The Marshall Islands are currently divided into 33 municipalities: Ailinginae, Ailinglapalap, Ailuk, Arno, Aur, Bikar, Bikini, Bokak, Voto, Jabat, Jaluit, Jemo, Kili, Kwajalein, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Majuro, Medjit, Mili, Namorik, Namu, Rongelap, Rongerik, Taka, Ujae, Ujelang, Utirik, Ebon, Enewetok, Erikub. The four county centers, Majuro, Ebeye, Jaluit and Wotje, have local governments with an elected council, a mayor, appointed officials and local police.

 

Population

The first official census of the Marshall Islands took place in 1920. Then 9800 people lived on the islands. Until 1958, the rate of population growth was slow, but from 1958 to 1967 the annual population growth reached 3.4%, and subsequently 4%. However, already in 1988-1989, this value fell to 1.5%, despite the fact that the birth rate remained very high. The downward trend in population growth was caused by increased emigration of the population abroad, primarily to the United States. According to the 1999 census, the annual population growth of the Islands remained at the same level of 1.5%, and increased to 2.1% according to the 2008 estimate.

According to the last census in 1999, the population of the Marshall Islands was 50,840 people, while in the capital of the state, the city of Majuro, more than 25 thousand people lived.

In 1999, 30,925 people lived on the islands of the Ratak chain, and 19,915 people lived on the islands of the Ralik chain. The highest population density was on Majuro Atoll: 6314 people. per km². The lowest is on the Bikini and Rongelap atolls: 6 people. per km².

According to the latest 2011 census, the population of the Marshall Islands was 53,158.

The general trend of recent years has been the outflow of population from remote islands to the only cities in the country, Majuro on Majuro Atoll and Ebeye on Kwajalein Atoll. So, in 1930, only 753 people lived in Majuro, and in 2011 there were already 27,797 people. (growth by 36.9 times); in Ebeye in 1930 - 19 people, in 2011 - 11,408 people. (an increase of 600.4 times). This creates an increased burden on the resources and lands of both islands, leads to coastal abrasion, negatively affects local ecosystems, and contributes to the destruction of autochthonous flora and fauna. In the event of a significant rise in the level of the World Ocean or global climate change, the concentration of the population on individual islands can lead to serious social and economic consequences.

Against the background of urban population growth, on the outlying islands of the country, population growth in 2011 compared to 1999 was observed only on the islands of Jaluit, Lae, Lib, Rongelap, Utirik and amounted to less than 1%, while on other islands there was a decrease in population.

According to the 2011 census, men accounted for 51.2% (27,243 people), women - 48.8% (25,915 people). The share of the urban population according to the 2011 census is 73.8%, rural - 26.2%.

The proportion of children under 14 years old in 2011 was 40%, of the adult population from 15 to 59 years old - 56%, over 59 years old - 4%. The average life expectancy for men in 1999 was 65.7 years, for women 69.4 years.

Ethnic composition
The vast majority of the population of the Marshall Islands are Marshallese. This is a Micronesian people, which is divided into two ethnographic groups: Raylik and Rahtak (in geography in a slightly different pronunciation: Ralik and Ratak, as the two island chains of the country are called).

The share of foreigners living in the country is only 2.3%: this is the lowest indicator after the Northern Mariana Islands among the Pacific countries. The largest non-Marshallese ethnic group is the Kosrae people from the island of Kusaiye in the Caroline Islands. The Marshall Islands also has a small population of Americans and Filipinos.

 

Languages

In addition to English, the official language of the Marshall Islands is Marshallese, which is a Micronesian language. The total number of its speakers in 1979 was about 43,900 people.

The language uses the Latin alphabet, supplemented by diacritics. It consists of 22 consonants (plus one back-palatal sound that does not appear in spelling) and four vowels, each of which has several allophones. The orthography of the Marshallese language is highly unstable. Apart from having several accepted spellings, the spelling in each of them is inconsistent.

 

Religious composition

The dominant religion in the Marshall Islands is Christianity, spread in the archipelago by missionaries in the 19th century. The first of these were Congregationalists from Boston, who landed on Ebon Atoll in 1857. The first Catholic missionaries appeared in the Marshall Islands in 1899, subsequently building a church on Jaluit Atoll.

In 2008, the proportion of Protestants (Congregational Church of Christ) was 54.8%, followers of the Assembly of God - 25.8%, Catholics - 8.4%, Mormons - 2.1%

 

Political structure

Political system
The Marshall Islands is a self-governing state entity in free association with the United States. The constitution, adopted on May 1, 1979, establishes a republican form of government that combines features of the British and American political systems.

After gaining independence in 1983, a referendum was held in the country, the result of which was a policy of continuing close ties with the United States. In November 1986, the Agreement on Free Association was signed, which was valid for 15 years. According to him, the Republic of the Marshall Islands could pursue an independent foreign policy, while the United States was responsible for the country's finances, which also retained the exclusive right to the presence of US armed forces on the Kwajalein Atoll. Compliance with the American nuclear test program was guaranteed. In exchange for these concessions, the United States took over the defense of the Islands, guaranteed the access of the Marshall Islands to US federal programs, and the Marshallese were given the right to live and work in the United States. At the same time, the United States allocated significant funds to the Islands: in 1987 - $ 48 million, in 2001-2002 - $ 34.7 million, thus, from 1987 to 2002, the state budget of the Marshall Islands consisted of 70% of funds received from the United States. The agreement expired in 2002. A new 20-year Free Association Agreement was signed on December 6, 2003. Under it, the United States pledged to continue financing the economy of the Marshall Islands (the amounts were agreed in advance in the agreement).

 

Legislature

The supreme body of legislative power is the parliament, which consists of two chambers: the Council of Leaders (march Council of Iroij, upper house) and nitiyala (march Nitijela, lower house).

Legislative power is vested in the lower house of parliament, which consists of 33 deputies. The term of office of the Chamber is four years. Only a citizen of the Marshall Islands who has reached the age of 21 can become a candidate for the lower house of parliament. Deputies are elected on the basis of universal suffrage. The candidate who receives a simple majority is elected. At the first meeting after the elections, the members of the lower house elect the speaker and his deputy from among their members. The regular session of the House begins on the first Monday of January and lasts for 50 days. The president has the right to dissolve the lower house in the event of a two-time no-confidence vote (if both times the new president was not elected), as well as if the Cabinet was not formed within 30 days after the presidential election.

The upper house, or Council of Chiefs, has an advisory function: it can discuss any question relating to the Marshall Islands and express its opinion to the Cabinet, as well as require the revision of any law relating to customary law, traditional practice or land tenure and passed by the lower house of parliament in the third reading. The Council of Chiefs consists of 12 representatives (marsh. Iroijlaplap) from the districts of the Ralik and Ratak chains: the Ralik chain (without Ujelang) is represented by 4 people; Ujelang, Mili, Arno, Mejit, Majuro, Airok (Motu in Maloelap Atoll), Likiep - 1 person from each district; the islands of Aur, Maloelap (without motu Airok), Votje, Utirik and Ailuk have one representative. At the first meeting of the council, the chairman of the Council of Chiefs and his deputy are elected by secret ballot from among the representatives.

 

Executive branch

According to the Constitution of the Marshall Islands, the head of state is the president, who is elected from among the members of the lower house of parliament by the deputies themselves at the first meeting after the general election. The candidate who receives the most votes is elected. Since January 2016, the president of the country has been Kasten Nemra.

The executive power of the Marshall Islands is in the hands of the Cabinet of Ministers, whose members are collectively responsible to the country's parliament. The Cabinet consists of the President of the Marshall Islands, who must also be a member of the lower house of the country's parliament, and other members of the house appointed as their respective ministers. Ministerial nominations, which must be at least 6 (candidates for the post of ministers of finance, foreign affairs, communications and transport, resources and development, social security, public works) and no more than 10, are nominated by the president of the country from the lower house, and then presented to the speaker chamber, which already appoints them as ministers. If the president does not nominate at least 6 ministers within 7 days after his election, then the president is removed from office and new elections of the head of state are held.

 

The Cabinet exercises the general direction and control of the state power of the country; submits to the lower house of parliament bills that are necessary or desirable for the implementation of the policies and decisions of the Cabinet, and also makes proposals for increasing duties or other sources of the state budget and spending public money; The cabinet is accountable to the lower house of parliament for all public expenditures; is responsible for the country's foreign policy (including treaties), signs international treaties with the approval of the lower house of parliament and appoints ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions of the Marshall Islands; is responsible for taking measures necessary to ensure the security of the country, provided that the stationing of armed forces on the territory of the country in peacetime is not allowed; The cabinet is endowed with the right of pardon; The Cabinet is responsible for establishing and maintaining hospitals and other institutions in the health care system of the Marshall Islands; for the creation and maintenance of public schools in the education system of the country; for the creation and maintenance of other institutions necessary to maintain a high standard of living for the people of the Marshall Islands, protect their legal rights, and ensure the economic, social and cultural well-being of the Marshallese.

Judicial branch
The judiciary of the Marshall Islands is independent of the legislative and executive branches. The country's judicial system includes the Supreme Court, High Court, Traditional Rights Court, District Courts, Community Courts, and other subordinate courts by law. Every Court of the Marshall Islands has the power to make rulings, lay down rules, issue orders, procedural instructions, not contrary to applicable law and necessary for the administration of justice and for the execution of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court of the Marshall Islands is the highest written court established by the constitution and has appellate jurisdiction with the right to make a final decision on all cases heard by lower courts. The Supreme Court consists of a presiding judge and other judges, the number of which is stipulated by current legislation.

The High Court of the Marshall Islands is the highest court of record, established by the constitution and having general jurisdiction in matters of divergence of law and fact. The High Court consists of a presiding judge and other judges, the number of which is stipulated by current legislation. The court also considers appeals against decisions of lower courts, checks the legality of decisions of government agencies, unless otherwise specified by law.

Judges of the Supreme and High Courts are appointed by the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, with subsequent approval by the lower house of parliament. The age limit for a judge is 72 years.

The traditional legal court is a written court established by the constitution and consisting of three or more judges who represent all classes of land law: the paramount chief (march. Iroijlaplap), the lower chief (march. Iroijedrik), the head of the communal/working clans ( march Alap), community members/workers (march Dri Jerbal). The jurisdiction of the traditional court of law includes the consideration of issues related to the determination of the titles or land rights of the Marshallese, as well as legitimate interests, which are wholly or partly determined by the customary law and traditional practice existing in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The District Courts hear civil suits up to $10,000, except for matters falling within the jurisdiction of the High Court, maritime matters, and land disputes. Community courts operate in the municipalities of the country. They handle claims up to $200.

Constituencies
Voting rights are granted to citizens of the Marshall Islands who have reached the age of 18. Persons recognized as mentally ill, in places of deprivation of liberty and conditionally released from criminal punishment have no right to participate in elections. A voter can only vote in one constituency where he resides or owns a land plot.

 

Voting rights are granted to citizens of the Marshall Islands who have reached the age of 18. Persons recognized as mentally ill, in places of deprivation of liberty and conditionally released from criminal punishment have no right to participate in elections. A voter can only vote in one constituency where he resides or owns a land plot.

The country is divided into 24 constituencies. Majuro district is represented in the parliament by 5 deputies, Kwajalein - 3 deputies, Ailinglaplap, Arno, Jaluit - 2 deputies, Ailuk, Aur, Bikini-Kili, Voto, Votje, Jabat, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Maloelap, Mejit, Mili, Namorik, Namu, Rongelap, Ujae, Utirik, Ebon, Enevetak-Ujelang - 1 deputy. Other uninhabited islands are included in those constituencies with which they are most closely associated (according to traditions, customs). The country's parliament can change both the number of deputies in the country's parliament and the boundaries of constituencies. At the same time, the districts should have approximately the same number of inhabitants, although geographical features, community interests, the boundaries of existing administrative and traditional areas, means of communication and population mobility can also be taken into account.

Local government
Under the Constitution, the population of any atoll or island that is not part of an atoll (i.e. motu) is entitled to a system of local government which operates in accordance with the laws of the Marshall Islands in force. At the same time, local self-government extends not only to the land of the atoll / island, but also to the sea and the seabed of the internal waters of the island (i.e. the lagoon) and to the waters of the ocean washing the island and its bottom at a distance of 5 miles from the baseline from which the territorial waters are measured atoll or island.

Political parties
Traditionally, there are no formally organized political parties in the Marshall Islands. Those organizations that are called them are more like factions or groups that act in the interests of certain circles. They have no headquarters, official ideology or party structures. The two generally recognized parties in the country are the Kabua Party, or Aelon Kein Ad, (translated from the Marshallese language - "our islands") and the United Democratic Party. The country also has another party, the United People's Party, which in January 2008, together with the Kabua Party, formed the government of the Marshall Islands.

 

Armed forces and police

The Republic of the Marshall Islands does not have a permanent military force. However, according to the Free Association Agreement, the United States is responsible for the security and defense of the country. They must protect the Republic of the Marshall Islands and its citizens from attacks and threats from outside, prevent access and use of the Marshall Islands by military personnel or for military purposes by any third state, establish and use military areas and installations in accordance with the terms of the Treaty. The US may also conduct military operations and operations on land, water and airspace in the Marshall Islands. Unless otherwise specified, the United States shall not detonate or station nuclear or any other weapon of mass destruction, or radioactive, chemical, or biological material that could harm the health or safety of the people of the Marshall Islands.

Internal security is provided by the formations of the national police. In 2004, 100 criminal cases were considered in the High Court (in 2000 - 160); Police in the cities of Majuro and Ebeye arrested 3,587 people.

 

Foreign policy and international relations

According to the Treaty of Free Association of the Republic of the Marshall Islands with the United States, the country has the right to pursue an independent foreign policy on its own behalf, except as specified in the Treaty. The Marshall Islands can independently pursue a foreign policy in matters of maritime law and maritime resources, build commercial, diplomatic, consular, economic, trade, banking, postal, communication, cultural relations, relations related to civil aviation with other states, as well as negotiate with other states, international and intergovernmental organizations to receive grants and loans for the development of the country. The Republic of the Marshall Islands may sign on its own behalf international treaties and agreements with the governments of other countries and regional and international organizations.

 

The US Government shall, by mutual agreement, support applications by the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands for membership or other participation in regional and international organizations. The Marshall Islands shall consult with the Government of the United States on matters of its foreign policy, and the Government of the United States shall consult with the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on matters which may concern the Marshall Islands. The US Government is not responsible for the foreign policy commitments of the Marshall Islands, except as expressly agreed upon by both parties. At the request of the Government of the Marshall Islands, the United States is also required to provide consular assistance to citizens of the Marshall Islands.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands maintains diplomatic relations with 72 countries, including Russia. However, only the US, Taiwan and Japan have their embassies in Majuro. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has embassies in the United States (in Washington), Fiji, Japan, a consulate in Hawaii in Honolulu, and a mission in Taiwan and the United Nations. Diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands were established on August 6, 1992. However, there is no Russian embassy in the country.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a member of the UN (since September 17, 1991), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Pacific Islands Forum, the Asian Development Bank, the international organization of the ACP countries and other international organizations.

In February 2021, the Marshall Islands withdrew from the Pacific Islands Forum, due to dissatisfaction with the election of Henry Poon as Secretary General of the organization.

The Marshall Islands are contesting their rights to Wake Atoll, now a US territory.

 

Economy

The characteristics that determine the economic situation in the Marshall Islands are no different from those of other countries in Oceania: a huge exclusive economic zone, limited natural resources, remoteness from the main world markets, and a shortage of highly qualified specialists. The economy of the Marshall Islands is also experiencing such serious difficulties as the state budget deficit, balance of payments and low domestic savings. The country is heavily dependent on funds provided by the Asian Development Bank, the United States and other countries of the world. Therefore, the size of the state budget of the Marshall Islands is largely determined by the amount of foreign financial assistance.

Nevertheless, in recent years, the country has achieved relative economic stability, although the weaknesses of the local economy and the negative impact of external and other factors that could negate the economic successes achieved have remained. The most stable components of business activity in the Marshall Islands are the public sector and financial and economic income from the Reagan Test Site (USA) on Kwajalein Atoll, which is also a major employer (it employs 1,200 to 1,300 Marshallese). In recent years, there have also been improvements in the private sector, but it does not have enough growth to solve the problem of rising unemployment in the country. The public and private sectors remain particularly sensitive to fluctuations in the external market: for example, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States and the bird flu epidemic in Asia in 2001-2004, there was a sharp decline in the number of tourists on the islands; negatively affects the economy and rising prices for fuel, which is completely imported into the country.

According to the government of the Marshall Islands, in 2007 the country's GDP was about $149 million, and per capita GDP was $2,851. The national economic growth of the Islands is very uneven. In 2007, GDP growth was 2%, in 2004 - 5.6%, while from 1996 to 1999 it was negative (in 1996 -10.3%, in 1999 -2.9% ).

The main economic sectors of the Marshall Islands are services and agriculture. Tourism is one of the dynamically developing sectors of the country's economy.

According to a 2005 estimate, the inflation rate in the country was 3%.

Thanks to low taxes, the state is a popular offshore zone.

Agriculture
Despite the fact that the volume of agricultural production in the Marshall Islands is small, agriculture plays an important role in the life of the local population and is one of the key sectors of the country's economy. The amount of land suitable for cultivation is limited due to the small area of ​​the atolls and the low fertility of local soils.

Food crops are grown by households mainly for their own consumption. The most important of them are coconut palm, breadfruit, pandanus, bananas, taro. Other widespread crops include pineapples, cucumbers, watermelons, capsicums, cabbages, tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, and red peppers. Meat production satisfies only the domestic market.

The country's most important agricultural product is copra, which is produced mainly on the outlying islands of the archipelago, for which the Marshall Islands government subsidizes the price of this product in order to maintain the well-being of local residents. The meaning of the subsidy is that the government company Tobolar buys copra from local producers at a price higher than the market price. In 2004 and 2005, these subsidies reached $900,000. In 2004, thanks to a grant from Taiwan, the Marshall Islands began to produce soap and other products in addition to coconut oil.

Fishing
Against the background of the growing population of the country, the Government of the Marshall Islands has declared the development of the fishing sector of the economy one of the priority areas of activity.

Coastal fishing plays an important role in the life of the Marshallese. Of particular value, in addition to certain types of fish, are a variety of crustaceans, primarily crabs, which go to the domestic market. There are pearl farms on the atolls of Namorik and Majuro, and a giant tridacna breeding station on Likiep.

 

The main export of the country is tuna, but its catch is carried out mainly by foreign vessels, which are licensed to fish in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Marshall Islands. At the same time, licensing income is largely dependent on weather conditions, for example, in the country's waters, the largest amount of tuna is usually observed during El Niño. For example, due to changes in tuna migration routes in recent years, fish catches have declined sharply. The closure of a plant for the production of tuna fillets in 2004 negatively affected the country's economy. It was profitable from the point of view that it provided jobs from 100 to 520 local residents, and was also a large taxpayer.

Transport
In 2007, the Marshall Islands had 2,028 km of highways (including 75 km of expressways). There is no railway transport in the republic.

The national carrier is Air Marshall Islands, which operates domestic flights. The company was founded in 1980 under the name "Airline of the Marshall Islands", since 1990 the modern name has been used. Other airlines flying to the Marshall Islands are Continental Airlines (flights from Honolulu and Guam to Majuro and Kwajalein) and Our Airline/Air Nauru (flights from Brisbane (Australia) and Nadi (Fiji)). In total, in 2007, there were 15 airports in the country, but only four of them had a hard-surfaced runway.

Majuro Island has public transport (charter buses), but the most popular mode of transport is a taxi. The fare ranges from 50 cents to 2 dollars (between the most remote points of the island), while the driver has the right to pick up fellow travelers. Maritime traffic, both domestic and international, is carried out by the Central Pacific Maritime Agency. The largest port in the country is Majuro.

 

Connection

The press of the Marshall Islands is represented by only two publications: the newspaper "Marshall Islands Gazette" is owned by the government of the country and is published once a month; The Marshall Islands Journal is privately owned and published weekly in English and Marshallese. The islands have one AM station, three FM stations: V7AB (owned by the government of the Marshall Islands), V7AA (religious radio station), Micronesia Heatwave (private). In some parts of the country, you can catch the signal of the radio station and TV channel of the American military located on the Kwajalein Atoll. MBC TV is a public channel.

Various types of telecommunication services are available on the islands: telex, telephony, Internet. Majuro and Kwajalein atolls have regular telephone service. Other islands can be contacted via satellite or radiotelephone. In 2004, there were 4,500 home phones and 600 mobile phones in use in the country. In 2006, 2,200 people used the Internet in the Marshall Islands.

 

Tourism

The tourism sector of the Marshall Islands economy remains in its infancy, as the number of tourists arriving in the country remains quite low compared to other countries in Micronesia. The main flow of tourists is directed to the island of Majuro. In 2004, 9007 people visited the island, in 2001 - 5444 people, in 1999 - 6116 people. The archipelago is predominantly visited by citizens of the United States and Japan. In 2003, the total number of vacationers from the US decreased by 3%, while those from Japan increased by about 2.5%. The main types of recreation for foreigners: diving, sport fishing, cultural tourism, sailing on a yacht.

Several factors negatively affect the development of tourism: too high cost and duration of the flight to the Marshall Islands, undeveloped infrastructure.

Citizens of the United States and its territories, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Pacific Islands Forum countries, including Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to enter the country. Citizens of Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines are issued a visa valid for no more than 30 days upon entering the country. Tourists must have a return ticket and a passport that does not expire before one year. For citizens of other countries, a passport with an entry visa and a return ticket are required.

 

Foreign economic relations

The main exports of the Marshall Islands are agricultural products (copra, coconut oil, fish). The country depends on imports of food, manufactured goods, machinery and fuel. Imports are many times greater than exports. In 2000, exports amounted to $ 9.1 million, and imports - $ 54.7 million.

The main import partners in 2003 were the US mainland (54.1%), Australia (13.4%), Guam (11.3%), Japan (4.9%), New Zealand (3.4%) , Hong Kong (3.3%), Taiwan (2.9%). The main export partners are the USA, Japan, Australia, China.

Monetary system and finance
The monetary unit of the Marshall Islands is the US dollar.

According to the 2007 budget, expenditures amounted to $99.9 million, and revenues (including foreign receipts) - $98.9 million. According to 2004 data, budget revenues consisted of the following items: and other grants 26%, taxes 25%, trust fund for damages for nuclear testing 5%, other sources 13%. The main items of expenditure were education (28%), health care (20%), special appropriations (7%), expenses related to claims for damages from nuclear tests (6%), depreciation expenses (6%), transport and communications (4 %), debt service costs (1%), other expenses - 28%.

The domestic banking system is represented by two foreign (Bank of Guam in Majuro and Bank of Hawaii in Ebeya) and one local bank (Bank of the Marshall Islands). The Bank of the Marshall Islands was incorporated on November 8, 1982 and currently has an extensive network of branches in the country.

 

Culture

social organization
Even before the appearance of Europeans in the Marshall Islands, the local population was divided into separate groups, whose members had certain rights and obligations. At the heart of the social organization of Marshall society lay the question of land ownership. Each settlement consisted of several matrilineal clans (or march. jowi). The main form of social organization was the clan (or march. bwij), which was a group of people who traced their origin to a common ancestor, and built on the basis of a matrilineal system in which all land rights were transferred through the maternal line. The head of the clan (or marsh. alab), usually the oldest male of the main line of the clan, managed the land owned by the clan. A landholding (or marsh. wāto) was a small strip of land stretching from the lagoon to the ocean coast. One or more estates were under the control of a matrilineal line. Local leaders (or march. irooj) had the right to the whole atoll or part of it (motu). The heads of the clans organized and managed the activities of people, allocated land for use by clans within the same clan, and also organized and monitored the work of the community members, who provided local leaders with food, presented them with various gifts (or march. ekkan). The community members had land rights, but they were constantly redistributed by the head of the clan. Only the local chief had permanent land rights, but only until he was defeated by another chief.

Culture and life
Sea travel
The significant remoteness from each other of the islands of the country, fish as one of the main foodstuffs of the population determined the skill of the people of the country in fishing, including the construction of canoes (or march. wa), which are able to overcome considerable distances. The Marshallese themselves are excellent navigators who, over many centuries, have learned to travel by the stars, clouds, currents, birds, and even the color of the ocean.

Traditional canoes were carved from breadfruit wood using coconut wickerwork. The sails were embroidered by women from pandanus leaves. In total, there were three types of outrigger canoes: karkar (march. kōrkōr, used for swimming or fishing in the atoll lagoon; could accommodate up to three people), tipnol (march. tipnol, used for swimming in the ocean or lagoon; could accommodate up to ten people ) and ualap (march. walap, used when sailing long distances; could accommodate up to fifty people).

To teach sailing, the islanders used special maps, which were made only by men from the root of a pandanus or the vein of a coconut palm leaf. They depicted the direction of the current and waves, and islands were designated by cowrie shells. In total, there were three types of such maps: rebbelib (march. rebbelib), which showed all the Marshall Islands or one of the two island chains; medo (march. medo) depicting individual islands; mattang march. mattang or wappepe (march. wappepe) - a small square-shaped map that showed the direction of the waves around a single island. Despite the fact that the maps helped to navigate the open ocean, the Marshallese themselves never took them sailing, relying on their own memory.

Traditional crafts
Weaving of various mats, traditional clothes and bags from pandanus leaves, coconut palm and hibiscus has reached a high level in the Marshall Islands. Woven mats have a wide range of uses: talao (march tōlao) is used for seating and is made from whole pandanus leaves that are stitched together; jepko (march. jepko) is used as a carpet or placed under a sleeping mat; janini (marsh. janini) is used for sleeping, and jab (marsh. jab) is used as a room decoration. In the homes of the Marshallese, round-shaped wall decorations, or obon (march. obon), are also widespread. On the island of Kili, beautiful women's bags and purses are weaved by people from the Bikini Atoll, and Lykiep is known for its fans.

 

Sport

The Marshall Islands is not a member of the Oceania Football Confederation and FIFA, therefore its national team cannot take part in regional and international tournaments.

On May 1, 2007, the first National Games were held in the country, where nine sports were represented: softball, table tennis, tennis, basketball, volleyball, athletics, canoeing and two traditional sports games, which brought together about 1000 participants.

Basketball is the most popular sport among men on the islands. Every year the National Basketball Federation holds competitions. Tennis is mainly practiced on the Majuro Atoll, and local tennis players participate in the South Pacific Games.

The country has never participated in the Winter Olympics. At the Summer Olympics, the Marshall Islands were first represented at the 2008 Games, which were held in Beijing (China). The republic was represented by five athletes who participated in athletics, swimming and taekwondo competitions, but none of them won a prize.

 

Social sphere

Healthcare

The Marshall Islands health care system includes two hospitals located in the cities of Majuro and Ebeye and 49 health centers on the outlying islands. Majuro Hospital has 97 beds, as well as equipment needed in general medicine, surgery, orthopedics, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, ophthalmology and dentistry. Ebeye Hospital serves the population of Kwajalein and nearby islands with 43 beds.

In recent years, the country has seen improvements in the health care system (eg reduction in child mortality, increase in life expectancy). However, due to high population growth and density, the number of people with diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy has increased.

In some parts of the Marshall Islands, health care services are of poor quality, which negatively affects the health of the local population. According to the study, which lasted from 1995 to 1999, 27% of children under five years of age did not receive enough nutrients, and 57% of the population aged 18 to 50 suffered from obesity.

Measures of the government of the Marshall Islands to prevent the disease are being implemented quite slowly. Most of the money allocated to health goes to various programs to combat lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Often, patients are forced to be treated outside the country, for example, in Honolulu (Hawaii, USA) or Manila (Philippines).

Many citizens of the Marshall Islands suffer from cancer, thyroid disease and various tumors caused by radiation caused by nuclear tests in the Bikini and Enewetak atolls.

 

Education

The education system in the Marshall Islands faces many challenges, primarily due to the need to improve teaching at all levels of education.

The educational system of the country consists of four main stages:
pre-school education for children from three to five years old through the centers of the state program "Head Start Program" (total 49 centers) and schools with kindergarten programs (3 public and 13 private);
compulsory primary education for children between the ages of six and fourteen through a system of public and private schools (100 schools in total);
secondary education for children from fifteen to eighteen years old through a system of public and private schools (17 schools in total);
secondary specialized education through the College of the Marshall Islands (Eng. College of Marshall Islands) and the USP-CMI educational program.

The city of Majuro also has a campus of the University of the South Pacific, built in 1993.

Between 1988 and 1999, the number of students in the Marshall Islands increased significantly: in primary schools - from 11,581 to 12,421 students, in secondary schools - from 1910 to 2667 students. However, in subsequent years, the number of students in primary schools decreased, which is mainly due to the outflow of the population to other countries (primarily the United States): in the 2004/2005 academic year, 10,281 people studied in primary schools. The proportion of students of the total number of children who have reached the required age to attend school remains quite low (this indicator increased slightly: from 81.9 to 84.1% for primary schools and from 46.7 to 69.5% in secondary schools).