Marshall Islands - MH - MHL - MHL - Australia and Oceania

Last updated: April 17, 2024
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Marshall Islands Factbook Data

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chargé d’Affaires Lance POSEY (since 18 August 2023)

embassy: Mejen Weto, Ocean Side, Majuro

mailing address: 4380 Majuro Place, Washington DC  20521-4380

telephone: [692] 247-4011

FAX: [692] 247-4012

email address and website:

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.65% (male 12,642/female 12,175)

15-64 years: 63.83% (male 26,237/female 25,445)

65 years and over: 5.52% (2023 est.) (male 2,187/female 2,280)
2023 population pyramid
This is the population pyramid for Marshall Islands. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends.

For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Geographic coordinates

9 00 N, 168 00 E

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Natural hazards

infrequent typhoons

Area - comparative

about the size of Washington, DC


Humans arrived in the Marshall Islands in the first millennium B.C. and gradually created permanent settlements on the various atolls. The early inhabitants were skilled navigators who frequently traveled between atolls using stick charts to map the islands. Society became organized under two paramount chiefs, one each for the Ratak (Sunrise) Chain and the Ralik (Sunset) Chain. The traditional hierarchy continued even after contact with Europeans in the early 1500s. Spain formally claimed the islands in 1592, but few other Europeans passed by the islands in the next two centuries. In 1788, British sea captain John MARSHALL undertook an exploratory voyage, and the islands were mapped in the early 1800s by Russian explorers. In the 1850s, US Protestant missionaries began arriving on the islands. Germany established a supply station on Jaluit Atoll and bought the islands from Spain in 1884, although paramount chiefs continued to rule.

Japan seized the Marshall Islands in 1914 and was granted a League of Nations Mandate to administer the islands in 1920. Japan built large military bases throughout the Marshall Islands, and during World War II, the US captured the bases on Kwajalein, Enewetak, and Majuro Atolls. The Marshall Islands came under US administration as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) in 1947. Between 1946 and 1958, the US resettled populations from Bikini and Enewetak Atolls and conducted 67 nuclear tests; people from Ailinginae, Rongelap, and Utrik Atolls were also evacuated because of nuclear fallout, and Bikini and Rongelap remain largely uninhabited. In 1979, the Marshall Islands drafted a constitution separate from the rest of the TTPI and declared independence under President Amata KABUA, a paramount chief. In 2000, Kessai NOTE became the first commoner elected president. In 2016, Hilda HEINE was the first woman elected president.

In 1982, the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the US, which granted the Marshall Islands financial assistance and access to many US domestic programs in exchange for exclusive US military access and defense responsibilities; the COFA entered into force in 1986 and its funding was renewed in 2003. 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 that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system (the others are at Cape Canaveral, Florida (US), on Ascension (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), and at Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory)).

Environment - current issues

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

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Population below poverty line

7.2% (2019 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.8% NA

highest 10%: 27.5% (2019 est.) NA

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Exports - commodities

ships, recreational boats, skipjack, tuna, refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment (2021)

Administrative divisions

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

Agricultural products


Military and security forces

no regular military forces; the national police (Marshall Islands Police Department, MIPD), local police forces, and the Sea Patrol (maritime police) maintain internal security; the MIPD and Sea Patrol report to the Ministry of Justice; local police report to their respective local government councils (2024)


revenues: $148 million (2019 est.)

expenditures: $153 million (2019 est.)


name: Majuro; note - the capital is an atoll of 64 islands; governmental buildings are housed on three fused islands on the eastern side of the atoll: 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)

etymology: Majuro means "two openings" or "two eyes" and refers to the two major northern passages through the atoll into the Majuro lagoon

Imports - commodities

ships, refined petroleum, centrifuges, recreational boats, boat propellers (2019)


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


370.4 km


history: effective 1 May 1979

amendments: proposed by the National Parliament or by a constitutional convention; passage by Parliament requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the total membership in each of two readings and approval by a majority of votes in a referendum; amendments submitted by a constitutional convention require approval of at least two thirds of votes in a referendum; amended several times, last in 2018

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Executive branch

chief of state: President Hilda C. HEINE (since 3 January 2023); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Hilda C. HEINE (since 3 January 2023)

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 2 January 2023 (next to be held in 2027)

election results: 2023: Hilda C. HEINE elected president; National Parliament vote - Hilda C. HEINE (independent) 17, David KABUA (independent) 16

2020: David KABUA elected president; National Parliament vote - David KABUA (independent) 20, Hilda C. HEINE (independent) 12

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

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


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


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

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 2 associate justices)

judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the Cabinet upon the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (consists of the chief justice of the High Court, the attorney general and a private citizen selected by the Cabinet) and upon approval of the Nitijela; the current chief justice, appointed in 2013, serves for 10 years; Marshallese citizens appointed as justices serve until retirement at age 72

subordinate courts: High Court; District Courts; Traditional Rights Court; Community Courts

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Land use

agricultural land: 50.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 7.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 31.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 11.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 49.3% (2018 est.)

other: 0% (2018 est.)

Legal system

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


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 98.3%

male: 98.3%

female: 98.2% (2011)

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

International organization participation


National holiday

Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)


noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)

adjective: Marshallese

Natural resources

coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals

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

Economic overview

upper middle-income Pacific island economy; US aid reliance; large public sector; coconut oil production as diesel fuel substitute; growing offshore banking locale; fishing rights seller; import-dependent

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

Ports and terminals

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


18 years of age; universal

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the National Telecommunications Act, through Bill No. 66, ushered in a new era in telecommunications in the Marshall Islands; this will enable an open, competitive market for telecommunications that is regulated by a Telecommunications Commissioner; telecom officials announced that they would be able to offer satellite internet services beginning in mid-2023; the World Bank has been promoting telecommunications reform here for a decade and has a multi-million-dollar telecommunications reform grant program in progress (2022)

domestic: fixed-line roughly 5 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular is nearly 38 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 692; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein


low coral limestone and sand islands

Government type

mixed presidential-parliamentary system in free association with the US

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US; the islands of Kwajalein and Roi-Namur are home to more than 1,000 US military service members, Department of Defense civilians and contractors

the Marshall Islands have a "shiprider" agreement with the US, which allows local maritime law enforcement officers to embark on US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Navy (USN) vessels, including to board and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within its designated exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the high seas; "shiprider" agreements also enable USCG personnel and USN vessels with embarked USCG law enforcement personnel to work with host nations to protect critical regional resources (2024)

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

former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Marshall Islands District

abbreviation: RMI

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


Oceania, consists of 29 atolls and five isolated islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia; the atolls and islands are situated in two, almost-parallel island chains - the Ratak (Sunrise) group and the Ralik (Sunset) group; the total number of islands and islets is about 1,225; 22 of the atolls and four of the islands are uninhabited

Map references


Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Charles Rudolph PAUL (since 27 February 2024)

chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414

FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: Honolulu, Springdale (AR)

Internet country code


GDP (official exchange rate)

$258.774 million (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Marshall Islands does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; officials identified a labor trafficking victim, conducted awareness-raising activities, and continued to investigate a government official allegedly complicit in trafficking; however, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts, compared with the previous reporting period, to expand its anti-trafficking capacity; the government did not prosecute any traffickers for the third consecutive year and has not convicted any traffickers since 2011; officials did not use standard operating procedures to identify trafficking victims and penalized victims for immigration offenses committed as a direct result of being trafficked; law enforcement officials, who have a limited understanding of trafficking, did not receive anti-trafficking training, nor did the government provide adequate financial and technical resources for anti-trafficking efforts; therefore, Marshall Islands was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in the Marshall lslands, as well as Marshallese victims abroad; traffickers, including hotel and bar staff and family members, recruit and transport Marshallese and East Asian women and girls and exploit them in sex trafficking in the Marshall Islands with foreign construction workers and crew members of foreign fishing and commercial ships; traffickers exploit some foreign fishermen under conditions indicative of forced labor on ships in Marshallese waters; foreign women, including some Chinese nationals, are recruited with promises of work, are forced into commercial sex in establishments frequented by crew members of China-affiliated and other foreign fishing vessels; traffickers exploit Chinese nationals in Chinese-owned businesses; some wealthier or more powerful family members use traditional cultural practices to exploit impoverished Marshallese from outer Islands to serve as indentured labor; limited reports indicate some Marshallese searching for work in the US experience indicators of trafficking, such as passport confiscation, excessive work hours, and fraudulent recruitment, while some Marshallese children are transported to the US and exploited in situations of sexual abuse with indicators of sex trafficking (2023)


urban population: 78.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.61% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

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 service to Kwajalein Atoll (2019)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 99.8% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0.2% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

National anthem

name: "Forever Marshall Islands"

lyrics/music: Amata KABUA

note: adopted 1981
This is an audio of the National Anthem for Marshall Islands. The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.

Major urban areas - population

31,000 MAJURO (capital) (2018)

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Physicians density

0.42 physicians/1,000 population (2012)

Hospital bed density

2.7 beds/1,000 population

National symbol(s)

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


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

Population distribution

most people live in urban clusters found on many of the country's islands; more than two-thirds of the population lives on the atolls of Majuro and Ebeye

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 99.7% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 96% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 92% (2020)

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 24,313 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 130,000 (2018) mt-km

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix


Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 96.6% of population

rural: 65.4% of population

total: 89.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 3.4% of population

rural: 34.6% of population

total: 10.3% of population (2020 est.)

Ethnic groups

Marshallese 95.6%, Filipino 1.1%, other 3.3% (2021 est.)


Protestant 79.3% (United Church of Christ 47.9%, Assembly of God 14.1%, Full Gospel 5%, Bukot Nan Jesus 3%, Salvation Army 2.3%, Reformed Congressional Church 2.2%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.7%, New Beginning Church 1.4%, other Protestant 1.6%), Roman Catholic 9.3%, Church of Jesus Christ 5.7%, Jehovah's Witness 1.3%, other 3.3%, none 1.1% (2021 est.)


Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 est.)

major-language sample(s):

Bok eo an Lalin kin Melele ko Rejimwe ej jikin ebōk melele ko raurōk. (Marshallese)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language

Communications - note

Kwajalein hosts one of four dedicated ground antennas that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system (the others are at Cape Canaveral, Florida (US), on Ascension (Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), and at Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory))

GDP - composition, by end use

government consumption: 50% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 17.8% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.2% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 52.9% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -102.3% (2016 est.)

Disputes - international

Marshall Islands-US: claims US territory of Wake Island; the Marshall Islands put its claim on record with the UN in 2016



highest point: East-central Airik Island, Maloelap Atoll 14 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 2 m

Contraceptive prevalence rate


Current health expenditure

13% of GDP (2020)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 59.9

youth dependency ratio: 53

elderly dependency ratio: 6.8

potential support ratio: 14.7 (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years

male: 10 years

female: 10 years (2019)

Imports - partners

South Korea 33%, China 30%, Japan 11%, Greece 3%, Cyprus 3% (2021)

Exports - partners

Denmark 33%, South Korea 20%, Germany 15%, Poland 9%, Cyprus 4% (2021)

Total renewable water resources

0 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 8,614 tons (2013 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 2,653 tons (2007 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 30.8% (2007 est.)

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 7.21 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.14 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.03 megatons (2020 est.)

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site

Gross reproduction rate

1.33 (2023 est.)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

68.3% (2022 est.)


11.59% of GDP (2022 est.)
13.36% of GDP (2021 est.)
13.89% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Labor force

10,670 (2013 est.)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 26% (2019 est.)

male: 31%

female: 14.2%

Net migration rate

-4.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Median age

total: 25.1 years (2023 est.)

male: 25 years

female: 25.2 years

Debt - external

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

Refined petroleum products - imports

2,060 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Public debt

41.73% of GDP (2019 est.)
44.12% of GDP (2018 est.)
47.95% of GDP (2017 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

Total fertility rate

2.72 children born/woman (2023 est.)


80,966 (2023 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

1.3% (of GDP) (2013 est.)

Internet users

total: 16,254 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 38.7% (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

293,700 metric tonnes of CO2 (2017 est.)


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

Taxes and other revenues

17.23% (of GDP) (2020 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$249.595 million (2022 est.)
$251.292 million (2021 est.)
$248.528 million (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars


total: 2,028 km

paved: 75 km

unpaved: 1,953 km (2007)


33 (2024)

Infant mortality rate

total: 21.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 24.6 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 17.5 deaths/1,000 live births

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 16,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 38 (2021 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

35.5 (2019 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0% (2017 est.)
-1.5% (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Current account balance

$76.263 million (2021 est.)
$90.281 million (2020 est.)
$86.133 million (2019 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

Real GDP per capita

$6,000 (2022 est.)
$6,000 (2021 est.)
$5,700 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2020 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 28.5% (2020 est.)

male: 48.7% (2020 est.)

female: 8.3% (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

52.9% (2016)

Death rate

4.3 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Birth rate

21.6 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Merchant marine

total: 4,180 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 1,939 container ship 277, general cargo 66, oil tanker 1039, other 859

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

11.9% (2017)


$206.025 million (2021 est.)
$132.845 million (2020 est.)
$129.682 million (2019 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars


$130.016 million (2021 est.)
$88.042 million (2020 est.)
$91.394 million (2019 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,361 (2014 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.9 years (2023 est.)

male: 72.7 years

female: 77.3 years

Real GDP growth rate

-0.68% (2022 est.)
1.11% (2021 est.)
-2.85% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

Industrial production growth rate

10.24% (2022 est.) NA

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 4.4% (2013 est.)

industry: 9.9% (2013 est.)

services: 85.7% (2013 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

Education expenditures

13.6% of GDP (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.3% (2023 est.)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Parliament consists of:
Nitijela (33 seats; members in 19 single- and 5 multi-seat constituencies directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the Council of Iroij, a 12-member group of tribal leaders advises the Presidential Cabinet and reviews legislation affecting customary law or any traditional practice); members appointed to serve 1-year terms

last held on 20 November 2023 (next to be held in November 2027)

election results:
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by part - independent 33; composition as of February 2024 - men 29, women 4, percent of women 12.1%