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 Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network. Kwajalein also hosts one of four dedicated ground antennas (the others are on Ascension (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory), and at Cape Canaveral, Florida (US)) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system.



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 halfway between Hawaii and Australia

Geographic coordinates

9 00 N, 168 00 E

Map references



total: 181 sq km
land: 181 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: the archipelago includes 11,673 sq km of lagoon waters and encompasses the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik

Area - comparative

about the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


370.4 km

Maritime claims

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


tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt


low coral limestone and sand islands


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Likiep 10 m

Natural resources

coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals

Land use

agricultural land: 50.7%
arable land 7.8%; permanent crops 31.2%; permanent pasture 11.7%
forest: 49.3%
other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

infrequent typhoons

Environment - current issues

inadequate supplies of potable water; pollution of Majuro lagoon from household waste and discharges from fishing vessels

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

the islands of Bikini and Enewetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein atoll, famous as a World War II battleground, surrounds the world's largest lagoon and is used as a US missile test range; the island city of Ebeye is the second largest settlement in the Marshall Islands, after the capital of Majuro, and one of the most densely populated locations in the Pacific

People and Society


73,376 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese

Ethnic groups

Marshallese 92.1%, mixed Marshallese 5.9%, other 2% (2006)


Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)
note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language


Protestant 54.8%, Assembly of God 25.8%, Roman Catholic 8.4%, Bukot nan Jesus 2.8%, Mormon 2.1%, other Christian 3.6%, other 1%, none 1.5% (1999 census)

Age structure

0-14 years: 35.48% (male 13,273/female 12,758)
15-24 years: 17.54% (male 6,545/female 6,326)
25-54 years: 37.4% (male 13,966/female 13,475)
55-64 years: 5.79% (male 2,160/female 2,086)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 1,370/female 1,417) (2016 est.)

Median age

total: 22.7 years
male: 22.6 years
female: 22.8 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.6% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

25 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

4.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-4.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 72.7% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.59% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MAJURO (capital) 31,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 20 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.1 years
male: 70.9 years
female: 75.4 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.09 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

44.6% (2007)

Health expenditures

17.1% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.44 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

2.7 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 93.5% of population
rural: 97.6% of population
total: 94.6% of population
urban: 6.5% of population
rural: 2.4% of population
total: 5.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 84.5% of population
rural: 56.2% of population
total: 76.9% of population
urban: 15.5% of population
rural: 43.8% of population
total: 23.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

42.3% (2014)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2007 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 11%
male: 12.2%
female: 8.7% (2010 est.)


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
etymology: named after British Captain John MARSHALL, who charted many of the islands in 1788

Government type

presidential republic in free association with the US


name: Majuro; note - the capital is an atoll of 64 islands; governmental buildings are housed on three fused islands: Djarrit, Uliga, and Delap
geographic coordinates: 7 06 N, 171 23 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)


21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)

Administrative divisions

24 municipalities; Ailinglaplap, Ailuk, Arno, Aur, Bikini & Kili, Ebon, Enewetak & Ujelang, Jabat, Jaluit, Kwajalein, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Majuro, Maloelap, Mejit, Mili, Namdrik, Namu, Rongelap, Ujae, Utrik, Wotho, Wotje

National holiday

Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)


effective 1 May 1979; amended several times, last in 1995 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of US and English common law, customary law, and local statutes

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of the Marshall Islands
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Hilda C. HEINE (since 28 January 2016); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Hilda C. HEINE (since 28 January 2016)
cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the president from among members of the Nitijela, appointed by Nitijela speaker
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Nitijela from among its members for a 4-year term (no term limits); election last held on 27 January 2016 (next to be held in 2020)
election results: Hilda C. HEINE elected president on 27 January 2016; Parliament vote - Hilda C. HEINE 24, she was the only candidate

Legislative branch

description: bicameral legislature consists of the Council of Iroij (12 seats; consists of tribal chiefs chosen by holders of the chieftainship among the constituent islands) and the National Parliament or Nitijela (33 seats; members directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the Council of Iroij advises the Presidential Cabinet and reviews legislation affecting customary law or any traditional practice)
elections: last held on 21 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 33

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and other judges as prescribed by law)
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission and upon the approval of the Nitijela; judges appointed until retirement, normally at age 72
subordinate courts: High Court; District Courts; Traditional Rights Court; Community Courts

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 - Aelon Kein Ad Party [Michael KABUA] and United Democratic Party or UDP [Litokwa TOMEING]

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Gerald M. ZACKIOS (since 16 September 2016)
chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, 1st Floor, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236
consulate(s) general: Honolulu, Springdale (AR)
consulate(s): Agana (Guam)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas H. ARMBRUSTER (since 16 August 2012)
embassy: Oceanside, Mejen Weto, Long Island, Majuro
mailing address: P. O. Box 1379, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands 96960-1379
telephone: [692] 247-4011
FAX: [692] 247-4012

National symbol(s)

a 24-rayed star; national colors: blue, white, orange

Flag description

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

National anthem

name: "Forever Marshall Islands"
lyrics/music: Amata KABUA
note: adopted 1981


Economy - overview

US assistance and lease payments for the use of Kwajalein Atoll as a US military base are the mainstay of this small island country. Agricultural production, primarily subsistence, is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are co

The Marshall Islands received roughly $1 billion in aid from the US during 1986-2001 under the original Compact of Free Association (Compact). In 2002 and 2003, the US and the Marshall Islands renegotiated the Compact's financial package for a 20-year per

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$180 million (2016 est.)
$176.9 million (2015 est.)
$174.5 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$188 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

1.7% (2016 est.)
1.4% (2015 est.)
0.4% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$3,300 (2016 est.)
$3,200 (2015 est.)
$3,200 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 4.4%
industry: 9.9%
services: 85.7% (2013 est.)

Agriculture - products

coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens


copra, tuna processing, tourism, craft items (from seashells, wood, and pearls)

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force

10,670 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 11%
industry: 16.3%
services: 72.7% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate

36% (2006 est.)
30.9% (2000 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $116.7 million
expenditures: $113.9 million (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

62.1% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

1.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt

51.3% of GDP (2013)

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.7% (2016 est.)
-2.2% (2015 est.)

Current account balance

-$14 million (2016 est.)
-$6 million (2015 est.)


$53.7 million (2013 est.)
$58.1 million (2012)

Exports - commodities

copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish


$133.7 million (2013 est.)
$120.9 million (2012)

Imports - commodities

foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages, tobacco

Debt - external

$97.96 million (2013 est.)
$87 million (2008 est.)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 30,084
electrification - total population: 59%
electrification - urban areas: 65%
electrification - rural areas: 45% (2012)

Electricity - production

700 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

600 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

52,000 kW (2014 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

2,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

2,060 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

300,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,361
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (July 2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 16,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: digital switching equipment; modern services include telex, cellular, Internet, international calling, caller ID, and leased data circuits
domestic: Majuro Atoll and Ebeye and Kwajalein islands have regular, seven-digit, direct-dial telephones; other islands interconnected by high frequency radiotelephone (used mostly for government purposes) and mini-satellite telephones
international: country code - 692; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein (2005)

Broadcast media

no TV broadcast station; a cable network is available on Majuro with programming via videotape replay and satellite relays; 4 radio broadcast stations; American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) provides satellite radio and television serv (2009)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 14,000
percent of population: 19.3% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 86,868
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

V7 (2016)


15 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2013)


total: 2,028 km
paved: 75 km
note: roads are mostly unimproved (2007)

Merchant marine

total: 1,593
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 524, cargo 65, carrier 1, chemical tanker 351, container 226, liquefied gas 88, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 297, refrigerated cargo 13, roll on/roll off 9, vehicle carrier 10
foreign-owned: 1,465 (Belgium 1, Bermuda 35, Brazil 1, Canada 8, China 14, Croatia 12, Cyprus 40, Denmark 7, Egypt 1, France 7, Germany 248, Greece 408, Hong Kong 3, India 10, Indonesia 1, Iraq 2, Ireland 6, Italy 1, Japan 59, Jersey 11, Kuwait 2, Latvia 19, Malaysia 11, Mexi (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Enitwetak Island, Kwajalein, Majuro


Military branches

no regular military forces; Marshall Islands Police (2012)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

claims US territory of Wake Island

Trafficking in persons

current situation: The Marshall Islands is a source and destination country for Marshallese women and girls and women from East Asia subjected to sex trafficking; Marshallese and foreign women are forced into prostitution in businesses frequented by crew members of fishing and transshipping vessels that dock in Majuro; some Chinese women are recruited to the Marshall Islands with promises of legitimate work and are subsequently forced into prostitution
tier rating: Tier 3 – The Marshall Islands do not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government made no anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, including developing a written plan to combat trafficking; no new trafficking investigations were opened in 2014, and no prosecutions or convictions were made for the fourth consecutive year; no efforts were made to identify trafficking victims, especially among women in prostitution or men working on foreign fishing vessels in Marshallese waters, and no attempt was made to ensure their access to protective services; limited awareness-raising events were conducted by an international organization (2015)