Marshall Islands

marshall islands


The Marshall Islands, officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is a Micronesian island nation in the western Pacific Ocean, located north of Nauru and Kiribati, east of the Federated States of Micronesia and south of the U.S. territory of Wake Island, to which it lays claim.

Before a German trading company settled on the islands in 1885 the Marshall Islands remained inhabited, and they became part of the protectorate of German New Guinea some years later. Japan conquered the islands in World War I, and administered them as a League of Nations mandate.

In World War II, the United States occupied the islands, and they were added to the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (including several more island groups in the South Sea). Between 1946 and 1958 the United States tested 66 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, including the largest nuclear test the United States ever conducted. Nuclear claims between the United States and the Marshall Islands are ongoing, and health effects still linger from these tests.

In 1979 the Government of the Marshall Islands was officially established and the country became self-governing. In 1986 the Compact of Free Association with the United States entered into force, granting the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) its sovereignty. The Compact provided for aid and U.S. defense of the islands in exchange for continued U.S. military use of the missile testing range at Kwajalein Atoll. The independence was formally completed under international law in 1990, when the UN officially ended the Trusteeship status.