The Republic of the Marshall Islands is an island state located in the Pacific Ocean, in the region of Micronesia. The country is spread over 29 atolls of coral, and is comprised of 1,156 islands and islets.
The islands share maritime borders with the Federated States of Micronesia to the west, Wake Island to the north, Kiribati to the southeast and Nauru to the south. The population of the country is about 50,000 people, and its capital and most populated city is Majuro, with about 28,000 inhabitants.
After being under the mandate of the Spanish, the Germans, the English, the Japanese and part of the UN’s Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and under the administration of the United States, the nation gained its independence in 1990. It is therefore one of the youngest states in Oceania.
Its official languages are English and Marshallese, and its official currency is the United States Dollar (USD).
The Marshall Islands government operates under a mixed parliamentary-presidential system. Elections are convened every four years.
Natural resources on the mainland include phosphate deposits as well as copra harvesting. Agricultural production is concentrated in small farms and the most important commercial crops are coconuts, tomatoes, melons, and the bread tree. There is small but intensive agriculture of copra (dried coconut heart), coconut, sweet potato and banana.
Livestock is restricted (due to the small size of the islands) to the breeding of pigs, poultry, and to a lesser extent cattle and goats. Obviously, fishing is very important although the surrounding waters are warm and not very bountiful.
Industry is mainly composed of copra, coconut oil, frozen fish for export, and handicrafts. Aid disbursed by the United States government is the main pillar of the economy. Other small-scale industries include handicrafts, the processing of fish and copra.
Tourism has been emerging in recent years as a major source of income for the islands. The islands have few natural resources and imports far outnumber exports. Despite the relative scarcity of natural resources in their lands, the Marshall Islands have jurisdictional waters that are not well exploited due to the scarcity of capital.
The issue of postage stamps, mainly for philatelic collecting, is also an important source of income for its economy.
In recent years the country has developed a prolific wholesale and retail trade sector in its main urban areas, as well as a growing financial sector including banking and insurance services.
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