COUNTRY PROFILE: Marshall Islands

Country name: Republic of the Marshall Islands. 

Capital city: Majuro

Population: 75,684

Languages: English, Marshallese

Independence: October 21, 1986

Currency: United States dollar

Land area: 181.3 sq. km

The Marshall Islands is an island country which consists of 29 atolls and 5 isolated islands in Oceania. It is located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the North Pacific Ocean. The climate of the country can be described as a typical tropical climate with two different seasons. The dry season is between December and April; the rainy season lasts from April to December. Temperatures range between 26-32°C in the country.

The government of the Marshall Islands operates under a mixed parliamentary-presidential system as set forth in its constitution which was adopted in the 1st of May 1979. The former president of the country is Hilda Cathy HEINE who is also the first female elected head of state of any Pacific island nation. The country were occupied by the United States for several decades after World War II, the Marshall Islands gained independence in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States of America. The Marshall Islands joined the United Nations on 17 September 1991.

The economy of the Marshall Islands is closely linked to the United States of America and its GDP is derived mainly from United States payments under the terms of the Compact of Free Association. The islands and atolls have few natural resources, and imports exceed exports. In Marshall Islands, the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Tourism also holds some potential in the country.

The median age in country is 23 and most of the people live in urban areas. Also, more than two thirds of the population live on the atolls of Majuro (capital city) and Ebeye. 

There is an island that called Bikini in the country, and some United States nuclear testing took place in that island between 1946 and 1958. The people of Bikini Island were removed to another Island and total of 23 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests were conducted by the United States of America at that time. Despite the clean-up attempts on the Island, even if today the Island is still uninhabited due to the effect of nuclear contamination. The United States of America paid approximately $185 million for the damages in Bikini Island in the 1983 and 1999. On the other hand, Kwajalein atoll in Marshall Islands is the site of an American military base and has been used for missile defense testing since the 1960s.

Burak Tunahan Gökalp
Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations.
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