Cruising around the  Marshall Islands


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.


Location: 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 one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 9 00 N, 168 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 11,854.3 sq km
Land: 181.3 sq km
Water: 11,673 sq km (note - lagoon waters); note: includes the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rongelap, and Utirik


370.4 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


Tropical; hot and humid; wet season May to November; islands border typhoon belt


Low coral limestone and sand islands

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: unnamed location on Likiep 10 m


US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. 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 foreign investment due to the Asian financial difficulties, and less income from the renewal of fishing vessel licenses have held GDP growth to an average of 1% over the past decade.


Airports: 15 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2005)
Roadways: total: 64.5 km; note: paved roads on major islands (Majuro, Kwajalein), otherwise stone-, coral-, or laterite-surfaced roads and tracks (2002)

Merchant marine

Total: 706 ships (1000 GRT or over) 28,268,511 GRT/47,217,632 DWT
By type: barge carrier 3, bulk carrier 139, cargo 46, chemical tanker 110, combination ore/oil 10, container 116, liquefied gas 20, passenger 7, petroleum tanker 241, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 7, vehicle carrier 4
Foreign-owned: 632 (Australia 2, Bermuda 4, Canada 6, Chile 1, Croatia 2, Cyprus 7, Denmark 1, Germany 157, Greece 179, Hong Kong 8, India 1, Italy 1, Japan 5, Kazakhstan 1, Latvia 6, Monaco 8, Netherlands 5, NZ 1, Norway 35, Portugal 2, Russia 1, Saudi Arabia 1, Singapore 5, Slovenia 2, Spain 2, Sweden 1, Switzerland 11, Turkey 24, UAE 2, UK 20, US 131)
Registered in other countries: 4 (North Korea 2, Mongolia 1, Panama 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals


Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

American Samoa - Australia - Cook Island - Easter Islands (Chile) - Federation of Micronesia - Fiji - Guam - USA (Hawaii)  - Kiribati - Marshall Islands - Nauru - New Caledonia - New Zealand - Niue - Norfolk Island - Northern Mariana Islands - Palau - Papua New Guinea - Pitcairn Island - Samoa - Solomon Island - Tokelau - Tonga - Tuvalu - Vanuatu - Wallis and Futuna

Further Reading

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