Republic of the Marshall Islands

Political Status: Sovereign state in free association with the United States (which retains authority with regard to defense) since October 21, 1986.

Area: 70 sq. mi. (181 sq. km.).

Population: 50,848 (1999C); 73,000 (2007E).

Major Urban Center (2005E): DALAP-ULIGA-DARRIT (Majuro Atoll; 26,000).

Official Languages: English, Marshallese.

Monetary Unit: U.S. Dollar (see U.S. article for principal exchange rates).

President: Litokwa TOMEING (Our Islands); elected by the House of Representatives on January 7, 2008, to succeed Kessai H. NOTE (United Democratic Party), following legislative election of November 20, 2007.

The Country

The Marshalls consist of a double chain of coral atolls, encompassing 33 islands and more than 850 reefs, within the Pacific region known as Micronesia, some 2,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. The two chains are about 80 miles apart, ...

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