Country Profiles

Marshall Islands


After almost four decades under US administration as the easternmost part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Marshall Islands attained independence in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association. Compensation claims continue as a result of US nuclear testing on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.



Official Languages           
Marshallese, English

United States Dollar



Oceania, two archipelagic island chains of 29 atolls, each made up of many small islets, and five single islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia


Total: 181 Sq. km Land: 181 Sq. km Water: 0 Sq. km


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

Natural resources

Coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals

Land use

Agricultural land: 50.7% arable land 7.8%; permanent crops 31.2%; permanent pasture 11.7%forest: 49.3% other: 0% (2011 est.)



US assistance and lease payments for the use of Kwajalein Atoll as a US military base are the mainstay of this small island country. The Marshall Islands received roughly $1 billion in aid from the US during 1986-2001 under the original Compact of Free Association (Compact). In 2002 and 2003, the US and the Marshall Islands renegotiated the Compact's financial package for a 20-year period, from 2004 to 2024. Under the amended Compact, the Marshall Islands will receive roughly $1.5 billion in direct US assistance. Agricultural production, primarily subsistence, is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna processing, and copra. Tourism holds some potential. The islands and atolls have few natural resources, and imports exceed exports. Under the amended Compact, the US is also funding, jointly with the Marshall Islands, a Trust Fund for the people of the Marshall Islands that will provide an income stream beyond 2024 when direct Compact aid is to end.

Agriculture Products

Coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens


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

Exports Commodities

Copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish

Imports Commodities

Foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages, tobacco