Marshall Islands: Country and Foreign Investment
History, Population, Language and Culture
The population was estimated to be just under 68,480 in July 2012.
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.
British naval explorer John Marshall gave his name to the islands in 1788. The Marshall Islands were under control of Spain from 1500 to the late 1800s, Germany from 1885 to World War I, and Japan from 1917 to 1944. After the second World War, the Marshall Islands became a United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, under United States administration.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands came into existence in 1979 and gained its independence in 1986, after signing a Compact of Free Association with the United States. The Republic became a full member of the United Nations in 1991 and has established diplomatic relations with the world's major maritime and industrial nations.
Marshallese and English are official languages and both are taught in schools.
Religious affiliation is as follows: 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).
Majuro atoll, capital of the Marshall Islands, is the most developed atoll with a thriving commercial and political centre and a population of nearly 30,000. It offers visitors, diving and fishing, a cultural museum, a variety of cuisine and entertaining nightlife.