Marshall Islands (RMI)
The Marshall Islands is comprised of two parallel island chains of 29 atolls (made up of many islets), and 5 islands in the North Pacific Ocean (about halfway between Hawaii and Australia). The two island chains are known as Ratak (meaning “sunrise”) and Ralik (meaning “sunset”), respectively. The chains lie about 200 kilometres apart and extend almost 1300km northwest to southeast. Majuro atoll is the capital of the country, and government offices are located in the town of Delap-Uliga-Djarrit, named for three islands that were once separated and later joined by landfill. Marshall Islands’ nearest neighbours are Wake Island (north), Kiribati and Nauru (south), and the Federated States of Micronesia (west).
The estimated population of the Marshall Islands is approximately 73,000 people (CIA World Factbook 2017). The most populous atolls are Majuro and Kwajalein which together have almost 75% of the country’s total population. The rest of the population lives in traditional villages on the outer islands away from the two urban centres (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2017).
The Marshall Islands consist of approximately 180 sq. kilometres of land spread across just under 2,000,000 sq. kilometres of ocean. These characteristics make it vulnerable to natural disasters, and effects of climate change (US State Department 2017).