Republic of the Marshall Islands
CAPITAL : Majuro, Majuro Atoll
FLAG : The flag, adopted in 1979, is blue, with two diagonal strips of orange over white; in the canton is a white star with 4 large rays and 20 shorter ones.
ANTHEM : Ij iokwe lok aelon eo ao ijo iaar lotak ie (I Love My Island, Where I Was Born).
MONETARY UNIT : The US dollar is the official medium of exchange.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : British units are used, as modified by US usage.
HOLIDAYS : The government has not legislated official holidays.
TIME : 11 PM = noon GMT.
The majority of islands are in typical atoll formations, consisting of low-lying narrow strips of land enclosing a lagoon. Soils are porous, sandy, and of low fertility. Kwajalein Atoll in the Ralik, or Western, atoll is the largest atoll in the world.
The flora and fauna of the atolls are limited in number and variety. The flora consists of species resilient to porous soils, salt spray, and relatively strong wind force. The dominant tree species include coconut palms, pandanus, breadfruit, and citrus trees. Fauna include rodents and indigenous strains of pig.
The Marshallese people are Micronesians, who are physically similar to the Polynesian peoples. The largest non-Marshallese ethnic group is from Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia. There are also small numbers of Americans and Filipinos.
English is universally spoken and is the official language. Two major Marshallese dialects are also spoken. Marshallese is a Malayo-Polynesian language and the common source of each of the atolls' dialects. Both English and Marshallese are used in official communications and in commerce. Japanese is also spoken.
There are 24 local governments for the inhabited atolls and islands. Typically, each is headed by a mayor, and consists of an elected council, appointed local officials, and a local police force.
There are no armed forces in the Marshall Islands. Under the Compact of Free Association, the United States provides defense for a minimum 15-year period and operation of the Kwajalein Missile Range for 30 years.
Livestock on the islands consists of pigs and poultry. Most families raise pigs for subsistence and for family and community feasts. In 1981, pigs were imported from New Zealand to improve the strains of the local breed.
Some 8,900 ha (22,000 acres) are planted with coconut palm. Replanting has been undertaken on Arno, Lae, Maloelap, Rongelap, Ujae, Wotho, and Wotje. Pine species are under experimentation in a windbreak tree project on Ebeye. In 1984, a sawmill was purchased for processing coconut trunks and other tree species as lumber. In 2000, forest product imports totaled $1.9 million.
There was no mining of mineral resources. However, preliminary surveys have revealed the presence of phosphate and manganese nodules in the seabed within the territorial waters. Lagoon dredging of sand and coral for construction purposes was undertaken in Majuro and Ebeye.
While there are no institutions involved in scientific research or training, the College of Micronesia nursing facility and science center, located in the Majuro Hospital, provides instruction in nursing technology and science.
Financial services are provided by three commercial banks: the Bank of Guam and the Bank of Marshalls, located in Majuro, and the Bank of Hawaii, located in Ebeye. The Marshall Islands Development Loan Office in Majuro was established as an independent government corporation in 1982. There were four credit unions, operated by over 2,000 members.
The Marshall Islands has no stock issues or securities trading.
Two foreign insurance companies, located in Majuro, provide coverage. A US insurance company provides loan protection policies to credit unions.
Income tax is applied to wages and salaries at graduated rates. Business tax is applied to gross revenues of service-related enterprises generated anywhere in the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau, except on Kwajalein. A sales tax is applied only in Kwajalein. There is also a fuel tax.
Import taxes are generally ad valorem; duties range from 5% to 75%. The average rate is 10%. Specific duties apply to cigarettes, soft drinks, beer, spirits, wine, gasoline, and other gases and fuels.
The Marshall Islands have no territories or colonies.
Bank of Hawaii, Economics Dept. Pacific Islands Economic Trends. Honolulu: Bank of Hawaii, 1992.
Compacts of Free Association with the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. Washington, D.C.:U.S. Government Printing Office, Congressional Sales Office, 1998.
Dibblin, Jane. Day of Two Suns: US Nuclear Testing and the Pacific Islanders. New York: New Amsterdam, 1990.
Hezel, Francis X. Strangers in Their Own Land: A Century of Colonial Rule in the Caroline and Marshall Islands. Honolulu: Center for Pacific Island Studies, 1995.
Spennemann, Dirk H. R. Ennaanin Etto: A Collection of Essays on the Marshallese Past. Majuro Atoll: Republic of the Marshall Islands Historic Preservation Office, 1993.
Weisgall, Jonathan M. Operation Crossroads: The Atomic Tests at Bikini Atoll. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1994.