The World Factbook (1990)/Marshall Islands

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Marshall Islands

World Factbook (1990) Marshall Islands.jpg

See regional map X


Total area: 181.3 km²; land area: 181.3 km²; includes the atolls of Bikini, Eniwetak, and Kwajalein

Comparative area: slightly larger than Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 370.4 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: claims US-administered Wake Island

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

Terrain: low coral limestone and sand islands

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

Land use: 0% arable land; 60% permanent crops; 0% meadows and pastures; 0% forest and woodland; 40% other

Environment: occasionally subject to typhoons; two archipelagic island chains of 30 atolls and 1,152 islands

Note: located 3,825 km southwest of Honolulu in the North Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea; Bikini and Eniwetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein, the famous World War II battleground, is now used as a US missile test range


Population: 43,417 (July 1990), growth rate 3.2% (1990)

Birth rate: 39 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -1 migrant/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 43 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 70 years male, 75 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.9 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Marshallese; adjective—Marshallese

Ethnic divisions: almost entirely Micronesian

Religion: predominantly Christian, mostly Protestant

Language: English universally spoken and is the official language; two major Marshallese dialects from Malayo-Polynesian family; Japanese

Literacy: 90%

Labor force: 4,800 (1986)

Organized labor: none


Long-form name: Republic of the Marshall Islands

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

Capital: Majuro

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: 21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship; formerly the Marshall Islands District of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)

Constitution: 1 May 1979

Legal system: based on adapted Trust Territory laws, acts of the legislature, municipal, common, and customary laws

National holiday: Proclamation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, 1 May (1979)

Executive branch: president, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (Nitijela)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Amata KABUA (since 1979)

Political parties and leaders: no formal parties; President Kabua is chief political (and traditional) leader

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held NA November 1987 (next to be held November 1991); results—President Amata Kabua was reelected;

Parliament—last held NA November 1987 (next to be held November 1991); results—percent of vote NA; seats—(33 total)

Communists: none

Member of: SPF, ESCAP (associate)

Diplomatic representation: Representative Wilfred I. KENDALL; Representative Office at Suite 1004, 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20006; telephone (202) 223-4952; US—Representative Samuel B. THOMSEN; US Office at NA address (mailing address is P. O. Box 680, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands 96960); telephone 692-9-3348

Flag: 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


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. A few cattle ranches supply the domestic meat market. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, fish processing, and copra. The tourist industry is the primary source of foreign exchange and employs about 10% of the labor force. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. In 1987 the US Government provided grants of $40 million out of the Marshallese budget of $55 million.

GDP: $63 million, per capita $1,500; real growth rate NA% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.6% (1981)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $55 million; expenditures NA, including capital expenditures of NA (1987 est.)

Exports: $2.5 million (f.o.b., 1985); commodities—copra, copra oil, agricultural products, handicrafts; partners—NA

Imports: $29.2 million (c.i.f., 1985); commodities—foodstuffs, beverages, building materials; partners—NA

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 12,000 kW capacity; 10 million kWh produced, 240 kWh per capita (1989)

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

Agriculture: coconuts, cacao, taro, breadfruit, fruits, copra; pigs, chickens

Aid: under the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the US is to provide approximately $40 million in aid annually

Currency: US currency is used

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October-30 September


Highways: macadam and concrete roads on major islands (Majuro, Kwajalein), otherwise stone-, coral-, or laterite-surfaced roads and tracks

Ports: Majuro

Merchant marine: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 475,968 GRT/949,888 DWT; includes 2 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 1 bulk carrier; note—a flag of convenience registry

Airports: 5 total, 5 usable; 4 with permanent-surface runways; 5 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: telephone network—570 lines (Majuro) and 186 (Ebeye); telex services; islands interconnected by shortwave radio (used mostly for government purposes); stations—1 AM, 2 FM, 1 TV, 1 shortwave; 2 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT earth stations; US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US