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The Pearl of the Pacific Marshall Islands

Aug 18, 2007
A virtual guide to the Marshall Islands. Get an overview of Marshall Islands art, culture, people, environment, geography, history, economy and its government.

These beautiful islands are a collection of 1,225 islands and islets of which only five are single islands. The rest are grouped into 29 coral atolls which together make up more than one tenth of all the atolls in the world resembling strings of pearls in a blue ocean backdrop. It is no wonder they are referred to as the Pearl of the Pacific.

They lie in two parallel chains known as sunrise and sunset Ratak and Ralik and in true atoll form, they are narrow and low and encircle large central lagoons. All the islands have glorious white sandy beaches, tall palms and are lapped by crystal clear waters.

Of the 29 atolls, 27 are accessible by small plane. Majuro and Kwajalein atolls, the two population centres are serviced by both Air Marshall Islands and Continental Air Micronesia Jet Aircraft. There are also regular flights to Guam, Hawaii and Fiji.

Marshallese is the official language but English is taught in the schools and is widely spoken. The people are softly spoken and good natured with a rich oral tradition of chants, songs and legends. The chiefs continue to wield a great deal of authority over land ownership and usage.

Copra and a fisheries industry are the foundation of the island's economy. However, the Government which is a unique blend of the American and British system of Government, has given strong support for tourism development and seeking other economic basis.

Comfortable tourist accommodation can be found in Majuro and Ebeye, with traditional thatched huts available in a few of the outer atolls such as Milli. Bikini atoll was opened recently to divers and sports fishermen. The Bikini Resort will accommodate sixteen visitors in air-conditioned comfort while they experience the best wreck diving in the world and fish in waters uninhabited for fifty years. Several specialised dive resorts are soon to be built in the outer islands.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands was first settled in about 1,000 BC by people of Mayo Polynesian stock. It was visited by Spanish navigators in the 16th century seeking a westerly route to the Spice Islands. In 1788, British sea Captain John William Marshall sailed through these atolls and proclaimed them Marshall Islands, while en route from Australia to China. In the 1800s German traders, Missionaries from Hawaii and British and American whalers visited the islands.
About the Author
Douglas Scott works for The Rental Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance writer for The Marshall Islands Rental Site
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