Insular Area Summary for the Marshall Islands

Political Status

Aerial Kwajalein
Courtesy Nellie Zeitzmann

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) was a district of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) which the United States administered on behalf of the United Nations from 1947 until 1978.  Marshall_IslandsflagThe RMI came into being as a sovereign country in 1979 and entered into a Compact of Free Association with the United States in 1986.  The first financial package of the Compact lasted 15 years, from 1986 to 2003.  By the provisions of the Compact, the United States and the RMI negotiated a new financial package in 2003, covering 2003-2023 (PDF Format).    Under the Compact, the United States provides economic and financial aid and defends the RMI’s territorial integrity.  In return, the RMI provides the Untied States with unlimited and exclusive access to its land and waterways for strategic purposes. A Trust Fund was also created to contribute to the long-term budgetary self-reliance of the RMI when the financial provisions of the Compact expire in 2023. The close ties between the United States and the RMI that go back to the end of World War II are also reflected in the fact that the RMI uses the U.S. dollar as its currency.  Strategically, the RMI hosts the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the U.S. missile defense network.

Immigration & Employment Status of Citizens of the RMI in the U.S.

Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau Are Eligible to Work in the United States Indefinitely. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and Palau are admitted to the United States as nonimmigrants when admitted under the terms of those nations’ respective Compacts of Free Association with the United States. These three countries are sometimes referred to collectively as the “Freely Associated States.”   more

Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) map.

Political Leaders

President: Christopher Jorebon Loeak (January 2012)
Speaker of the Nitijela (Parliament): Donald Capelle (January 2012)
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., RMI Embassy to the U.S.:  Charles Paul

The United Nations and Bilateral Relations

Marshallese Boy
Courtesy Nellie Zeitzmann

On September 17, 1991, the Marshall Islands became a full-fledged member of the United Nations.  The Marshall Islands is a close voting ally of the U.S. and Israel at the UN.  The Marshall Islands has established bilateral relations with 72 countries which includes the USA, Taiwan, Israel, France and the Holy See.  For a complete list of countries with which the RMI has relations,
click here.

Distances from places

Washington DC: 7,060 miles
Honolulu: 2,500 miles
Tokyo: 2,800miles
Guam: 1,860 miles

Population & Demography

Total population: 63,100
Marshallese: 92.1%
Mixed Marshallese: 5.9%
Others: 2.0%

Economy & Income Sources

Jobwa Ebeye
Courtesy Nellie Zeitzmann

Estimated GDP: $149.6 million
Per capita GDP: $ 2,370
U.S. per capita GDP: $45,800
USAKA Reagan Missile Test Site
Kwajalein’s only major income source
USAKA’s population: 2,500
Civilian employees: 1,318 (13% of the RMI’s total payroll employment)
Compact Aid
Compact aid: $44.4 million (FY 07)
Other Federal grants: $9.6 million (FY 07)
Tourism by type
Total visitor arrivals: 9,173
Business visitors: 3,071
Holiday visitors: 2,727
Transit & stopover: 1,590
Tourists by origin
United States: 2,554
Other Pacific island countries: 2,024
Japan: 1,565
Government services
Hotels and restaurants
Other services

Labor Force & Employment

Total payroll employment: 10,115
Private sector employment: 3,773
Government employment: 4,600

Government Finances

Total government revenues: $116.5 million
Total government spending: $110.2 million
Total Federal grants: $54.0 million

Kwajalein Missile Range 

Kabua Son Kwajalein Day Ceremony
Courtesy Nellie Zeitzmann

At home in the largest lagoon in the world, is the U.S. Kwajalein Missile Range.  A major subsidiary agreement of the Compact with the Marshall Islands allows the United States continued use in Kwajalein Atoll of the U.S. Army missile test range for up to thirty years. Kwajalein consists of some ninety islands surrounding the largest lagoon in the world. Under a lease agreement with Marshall Islands Government, the U.S. Department of Defense uses the atoll and controls some of its islands.


Nuclear Issues

Section 177 of the Compact with the Marshall Islands provided for settlement of all claims arising out of the nuclear testing programs which the United States conducted at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls from l946 to l958. Under Section 177, the US Government has made payments of over $500M which included $135M for Bikini and Rongelap resettlements.

OIA Contacts

Joseph McDermott
Desk Officer for the Marshall Islands
Office of Insular Affairs
Washington, DC 20240
(202) 219-0037

Alan Fowler
Field Officer – DOI Insular Affairs
C/O American Embassy
P.O. Box 1379
Majuro, MH 96960
011 (692) 247-4011
011 (691) 247-5371 Fax
EST + 17 hours DST + 16 hrs