About Marshall Islands, Micronesia

Located between North America and Asia, these 1225 islands and islets are grouped into 29 coral atolls that together make up more than one-tenth of all the world’s atolls.

They lie in two parallel chains known as Sunrise and Sunset (Ratak and Ralik) Chains. All the islands have white sandy beaches and are lapped by crystal clear waters. Twenty-seven atolls are accessible by small plane with Majuro, the country’s capital, being serviced by Air Marshall Islands, Continental Micronesia. The first two also service the second most populated atoll, Kwajalein.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands was first settled in about 1000 BC by people of Mayo/Polynesian stock. Spanish navigators visited these islands in the 16th century, and in 1788 British sea captain John William Marshall proclaimed them the Marshall Islands. In the 1800s German traders, missionaries from Boston, Massachusetts and Hawaii, and British and American whalers visited the islands. Japan governed the islands from WWI to WWII. During World War II, the Marshall Islands served as the eastern defensive perimeter for the Japanese military forces in the Central Pacific. After taking control of the Marshalls from Germany in 1914, the Japanese steadily increased their military presence in the late 1930s.

With the anticipation of war, they began to heavily fortify the atolls of Kwajalein, Wotje, Maloelap, Jaluit and later Mili and Enewetak. These heavy fortifications were intended to help launch air attacks on certain targets (such as Hawaii, Wake Island, Kiribati and Johnston Atoll) and to serve as defense posts for Japan’s more westerly strongholds. Following WWII, the United States served as an administrator under United Nations Trust Territory created for all Micronesia. The Republic of the Marshall Islands came into being and declared its independence in 1979.

Marshallese is the official language, but English is taught in schools and is widely spoken. The people have a rich oral tradition of chants, songs and legends.

Copra (dried coconuts) and a fisheries industry are the foundation of the island’s economy. However the government, which is a unique blend of the American and British systems, has given strong support for tourism development and is seeking other economic bases.

Majuro Atoll is the most developed atoll with a population of nearly 30,000. It is the perfect home base while visiting the outer islands. The Marshall’s climate is tropical with the average temperature 27o C and there is less than a 12–degree daily variation with high temperatures cooled by trade winds and frequent rainfalls.

Primary leisure activities include worldclass scuba diving on wrecks, walls and reefs, snorkelling, sports fishing, and WWII relic sightseeing. There are several intact land-based relics in the Marshall Islands. These include air raid shelters, barracks, hospitals, storage tanks, power plants, tanks, trucks, trains, towers, antiaircraft guns, coastal defense guns, multipurpose guns, pillboxes, walls, trenches, air control centers, various bombers and fighters, runways, hangars and much more.

Over the last 2,000 or so years, Marshallese have developed, refined and perfected a number of unique skills and technologies, all of which illustrated their keen adaptation to the atoll and oceanic environment. Marshallese canoes, or wa, which range from small rowing canoes to massive high-speed voyaging canoes have amazed Westerners from Otto Von Kotzebue, who visited the Marshalls in the early 1800s, to modern day worldclass sailing enthusiasts. Mashallese canoes are recognised and revered throughout the Pacific for their advanced technical refinements, including the asymmetric hull, the lee platform, and the pivoting midship mast.

Visitors also enjoy shopping for local handicrafts with an array of beautiful baskets, jewellery and decorations. The islanders are known for their weaving using pandanus leaves, coconut fronds and shells.

Throughout the Marshall Islands there are many choices for hotel or bed and breakfast accommodations. On Majuro you will discover a range of hotels with a variety of services and rooms. There are also many exciting opportunities to experience the outer islands and distant atolls and to meet the people of the Marshall Islands.

Air Marshall Islands (AMI), the national airline, provides transportation between the atolls and islands of the Marshall Islands.

About Marshall Islands

Activities in Marshall Islands

Marshall Island’s Cuisine

Exploring Marshall Islands

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