Marshall Islands

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Marshall Islands
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Marshall Islands
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Map of Marshall Islands
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Introduction

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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 (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.
 
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Geography

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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 half way between Hawaii and Australia
 
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9 00 N, 168 00 E
 
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total: 181 sq km
country comparison to the world: 217
land: 181 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: the archipelago includes 11,673 sq km of lagoon waters and includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik
 
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about the size of Washington, DC
 
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0 km
 
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370.4 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
 
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tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt
 
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low coral limestone and sand islands
 
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lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Likiep 10 m
 
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coconut products, marine products, deep seabed minerals
 
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arable land: 11.11%
permanent crops: 44.44%
other: 44.45% (2005)
 
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0 sq km
 
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infrequent typhoons
 
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inadequate supplies of potable water; pollution of Majuro lagoon from household waste and discharges from fishing vessels
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
 
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the islands of Bikini and Enewetak are former US nuclear test sites; Kwajalein atoll, famous as a World War II battleground, surrounds the world's largest lagoon and is used as a US missile test range; the island city of Ebeye is the second largest settlement in the Marshall Islands, after the capital of Majuro, and one of the most densely populated locations in the Pacific
 
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People and Society

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noun: Marshallese (singular and plural)
adjective: Marshallese
 
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Marshallese 92.1%, mixed Marshallese 5.9%, other 2% (2006)
 
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Marshallese (official) 98.2%, other languages 1.8% (1999 census)
note: English (official), widely spoken as a second language
 
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Protestant 54.8%, Assembly of God 25.8%, Roman Catholic 8.4%, Bukot nan Jesus 2.8%, Mormon 2.1%, other Christian 3.6%, other 1%, none 1.5% (1999 census)
 
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67,182 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
 
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0-14 years: 38.2% (male 13,062/female 12,576)
15-64 years: 58.8% (male 20,171/female 19,340)
65 years and over: 3% (male 988/female 1,045) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 21.8 years
male: 21.8 years
female: 21.8 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.954% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
 
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29.11 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
 
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4.38 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 202
 
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-5.19 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
 
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urban population: 72% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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MAJURO (capital) 30,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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total: 23.74 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 85
male: 26.69 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.64 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 71.76 years
country comparison to the world: 133
male: 69.67 years
female: 73.95 years (2011 est.)
 
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3.44 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
 
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2.5% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 184
 
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0.559 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 122
 
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2.7 beds/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 83
 
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improved:
urban: 92% of population
rural: 99% of population
total: 94% of population
unimproved:
urban: 8% of population
rural: 1% of population
total: 6% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 83% of population
rural: 53% of population
total: 73% of population
unimproved:
urban: 17% of population
rural: 47% of population
total: 27% of population (2008)
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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12% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 4
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.7%
male: 93.6%
female: 93.7% (1999)
 
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total: 13 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2003)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands
conventional short form: Marshall Islands
local long form: Republic of the Marshall Islands
local short form: Marshall Islands
abbreviation: RMI
former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Marshall Islands District
 
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constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force on 21 October 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force in May 2004
 
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name: Majuro
geographic coordinates: 7 06 N, 171 23 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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33 municipalities; Ailinginae, Ailinglaplap, Ailuk, Arno, Aur, Bikar, Bikini, Bokak, Ebon, Enewetak, Erikub, Jabat, Jaluit, Jemo, Kili, Kwajalein, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Majuro, Maloelap, Mejit, Mili, Namorik, Namu, Rongelap, Rongrik, Toke, Ujae, Ujelang, Utirik, Wotho, Wotje
 
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21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)
 
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Constitution Day, 1 May (1979)
 
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1 May 1979
 
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mixed legal system of US and English common law, customary law, and local statutes
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Jurelang ZEDKAIA (since 2 November 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Jurelang ZEDKAIA (since 2 November 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president from among the members of the legislature
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elections: president elected by Nitijela (legislature) from among its members for a four-year term; election last held on 7 January 2008 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: Litokwa TOMEING removed as president by no confidence vote on 21 October 2009; legislature elects ZEDKAIA president on 26 October 2009
 
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unicameral legislature or Nitijela (33 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 19 November 2007 (next to be held by November 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 33
note: the Council of Chiefs or Ironij is a 12-member body comprised of tribal chiefs that advises on matters affecting customary law and practice
 
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Supreme Court; High Court; Traditional Rights Court
 
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traditionally there have been no formally organized political parties; what has existed more closely resembles factions or interest groups because they do not have party headquarters, formal platforms, or party structures; the following two "groupings" have competed in legislative balloting in recent years - Aelon Kein Ad Party [Michael KABUA] and United Democratic Party or UDP [Litokwa TOMEING]
 
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NA
 
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ACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Charles R. PAUL
chancery: 2433 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-5414
FAX: [1] (202) 232-3236
consulate(s) general: Honolulu
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Martha L. CAMPBELL
embassy: Oceanside, Mejen Weto, Long Island, Majuro
mailing address: P. O. Box 1379, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands 96960-1379
telephone: [692] 247-4011
FAX: [692] 247-4012
 
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blue with two stripes radiating from the lower hoist-side corner - orange (top) and white; a white star with four large rays and 20 small rays appears on the hoist side above the two stripes; blue represents the Pacific Ocean, the orange stripe signifies the Ralik Chain or sunset and courage, while the white stripe signifies the Ratak Chain or sunrise and peace; the star symbolizes the cross of Christianity, each of the 24 rays designates one of the electoral districts in the country and the four larger rays highlight the principal cultural centers of Majuro, Jaluit, Wotje, and Ebeye; the rising diagonal band can also be interpreted as representing the equator, with the star showing the archipelago's position just to the north
 
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name: "Forever Marshall Islands"
lyrics/music: Amata KABUA
note: adopted 1981
 
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Economy

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US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. The Marshall Islands received more than $1 billion in aid from the US from 1986-2002. Agricultural production, primarily subsistence, is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna processing, and copra. The tourist industry, now a small source of foreign exchange employing less than 10% of the labor force, remains the best hope for future added income. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. Under the terms of the Amended Compact of Free Association, the US will provide millions of dollars per year to the Marshall Islands (RMI) through 2023, at which time a Trust Fund made up of US and RMI contributions will begin perpetual annual payouts. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, the decline in tourism, and less income from the renewal of fishing vessel licenses have held GDP growth to an average of 1% over the past decade.
 
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$133.5 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 219
$115 million (2001 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$161.7 million (2008 est.)
 
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-0.3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
3.5% (2005 est.)
 
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$2,500 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177
$2,900 (2005 est.)
 
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agriculture: 31.7%
industry: 14.9%
services: 53.4% (2004 est.)
 
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14,680 (2000)
country comparison to the world: 212
 
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agriculture: 21.4%
industry: 20.9%
services: 57.7% (2000)
 
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36% (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
30.9% (2000 est.)
 
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NA%
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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revenues: $123.3 million
expenditures: $NA (2008)
 
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76.3% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 3
 
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NA% of GDP
 
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12.9% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
3% (2005 est.)
 
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coconuts, tomatoes, melons, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens
 
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copra, tuna processing, tourism, craft items (from seashells, wood, and pearls)
 
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NA%
 
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$19.4 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
$9.1 million (2000 est.)
 
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copra cake, coconut oil, handicrafts, fish
 
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$79.4 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
$54.7 million (2000 est.)
 
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foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages and tobacco
 
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$87 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185
$86.5 million (FY99/00 est.)
 
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the US dollar is used
 
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Communications

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4,400 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 216
 
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3,800 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 216
 
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general assessment: digital switching equipment; modern services include telex, cellular, Internet, international calling, caller ID, and leased data circuits
domestic: Majuro Atoll and Ebeye and Kwajalein islands have regular, seven-digit, direct-dial telephones; other islands interconnected by high frequency radiotelephone (used mostly for government purposes) and mini-satellite telephones
international: country code - 692; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); US Government satellite communications system on Kwajalein (2005)
 
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no television broadcast station; a cable network is available on Majuro with programming via videotape replay and satellite relays; 4 radio broadcast stations; American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) provides satellite radio and television service to Kwajalein Atoll (2009)
 
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.mh
 
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3 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 230
 
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2,200 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 210
 
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Transportation

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15 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 145
 
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total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 2,028 km (includes 75 km of expressways) (2007)
country comparison to the world: 174
 
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total: 1,381
country comparison to the world: 7
by type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 415, cargo 63, chemical tanker 314, combination ore/oil 2, container 206, liquefied gas 83, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 259, refrigerated cargo 14, roll on/roll off 9, vehicle carrier 7
foreign-owned: 1,284 (Australia 1, Bermuda 34, Brazil 1, Canada 4, China 16, Croatia 12, Cyprus 38, Denmark 7, Egypt 1, Germany 247, Greece 358, Hong Kong 3, India 8, Iraq 2, Isle of Man 2, Israel 1, Italy 1, Japan 41, Jersey 9, Latvia 18, Malaysia 11, Mexico 4, Monaco 21, Netherlands 16, Norway 57, Pakistan 1, Qatar 24, Romania 2, Russia 6, Singapore 28, Slovenia 6, South Korea 25, Switzerland 12, Taiwan 2, Turkey 72, UAE 17, UK 7, Ukraine 1, US 168)
note: this country allows large numbers of ships owned by foreign entities to be registered in its national shipping registry and to fly its flag; these ships operate under the laws of the flag state (2010)
 
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Enitwetak Island, Kwajalein, Majuro
 
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Military

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no regular military forces; under the 1983 Compact of Free Association, the US has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands; Marshall Islands Police (2009)
 
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males age 16-49: 16,446 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 13,568
females age 16-49: 13,606 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 653
female: 631 (2010 est.)
 
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NA
 
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defense is the responsibility of the US
 
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Transnational Issues

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claims US territory of Wake Island
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