Overview[edit | edit source]
The Marshall Islands, officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands (Marshallese: Aolepān Aorōkin M̧ajeļ), is an island country located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line. Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country's population of 53,158 people (at the 2011 Census) is spread out over 29 coral atolls comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets. Micronesian colonists reached the Marshall Islands using canoes circa 2nd millennium BC, with inter-island navigation made possible using traditional stick charts. It was last ruled by the USA during the Cold War, but was earlier held by Japan and Spain.
The islands share maritime boundaries with the Federated States of Micronesia to the west, Wake Island to the north, Kiribati to the southeast, and Nauru to the south. About 27,797 of the islanders (at the 2011 Census) live on Majuro, which contains the capital. Data from the United Nations indicates an estimated population in 2016 of 53,066. In 2016, 73.3% of the population were defined as being "urban". The UN also indicates a population density of 295 per km2 (765 people per mi2) and its projected 2020 population is 53,263.