Marshall Islands


Marshall Islands
7° 4' 0.012" N, 171° 16' 58.8" E
Capital City: 
Marshallese, English
Category: Social
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Net enrollment ratio in primary education 88.099999999999994 91.7 91.7 66.5 MDG Database
Seats held by women in national parliament, percentage 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above) World Bank
Category: Land
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Agricultural land (1000 Ha) 13 13 13 13 14 14 14 14 13 FAO
Forest area (sq km) World Bank
Forest area (% of land area) World Bank
Category: Tourism
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
International tourism receipts (% of total exports) 3 3 3 4 5 6 7 Development Data Group, The World Bank. 2008. 2008 World Development Indicators Online. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Available at:
Category: Demographics
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Country population 51,288.59999999999854 51,872.90000000000146 52,647 53,588.30000000000291 54,649.69999999999709 55,791.69999999999709 57,013.30000000000291 58,315.69999999999709 59,667.19999999999709 61,025.59999999999854 World Bank
Population annual growth 0.74304 1.13276 1.48131 1.77222 1.96119 2.06814 2.16607 2.25856 2.29113 2.2511 World Bank
Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births) World Bank
Category: Indices
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
HDI - Human Development Index UNDP International Human Development Indicators - Calculated based on data from UNDESA (2009d), Barro and Lee (2010), UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2010b), World Bank (2010b) and IMF(2010a).
Category: Economy
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
GNI per capita, PPP (current international $) World Bank
ODA received as % of GNI 42.78 53.91 40.86 37.12 31.84 33.53 31.13 28.29 27.26 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Category: Energy
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Electric power consumption (kWh) World Bank
Combustible renewables and waste (metric tons of oil equivalent) World Bank
Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total) World Bank
Category: Climate Change and Sea-level Rise
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), thousand metric tons of CO2 (CDIAC) 77 81 84 84 88 84 92 99 MDG Database (CDIAC Data)
Category: Freshwater
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Improved water source (% of population with access) 95 95 94 World Bank
Category: Biodiversity
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected 0.62 0.62 0.62 0.62 0.62 0.62 0.62 0.62 0.62 0.62 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)

Climate Change

The Marshall Islands submitted its First National Communication to the UNFCCC in 2000.

Although the Marshall Islands is an insignificant contributor to the global emission of greenhouse gases, global climate change poses a serious threat to the nation’s environment and economic development. Because the Republic consists of low-lying, coral atolls, there is great concern that changed climatic conditions by way of more extreme storm events or any rise in sea level may have significant and profound effects on the economy and on the living conditions of citizens of the Marshall Islands. Moreover, some of the most important national institutions can be found in one of the most vulnerable sections of the country. These institutions would therefore be the first to be affected by sea level rise, creating a massive problem for the effective functioning of the Marshall Islands Government in the face of climate change.

Marshall Islands First National Communication to the UNFCCC

Natural and Environmental Disasters


A National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management 2008 – 2018 was developed by a national taskforce and in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. The Marshall Islands has also submitted a National Progress Report on the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

The Marshall Islands lie in open ocean, and the islands are generally very close to sea level. The vulnerability to waves and storm surges puts the country in a precarious position even at the best of times. Although the islands have by no means been completely free from weather extremes, they are more frequently referred to in folklore as "jolet jen Anij" (gifts from God). The sense that the Marshall Islands were a God-given sanctuary away from the harshness of other areas is therefore part of the socio-cultural identity of the people. However, given the physics of wave formation and the increasing frequency and severity of storms, the Marshall Islands will likely be at even greater risk. The relative safety that the islands have historically provided is now in jeopardy. It is likely that evacuation would have to be effected long before inundation is total. 

Waste Management


A working draft of a National Waste Management Strategy has been developed for the Marshall Islands.

In the past, solid waste was disposed of near homes, and left to decay on the ground. At the time, population density was low and most of the waste was biodegradable, presenting few ecological problems. Now, however, high birth rates and inward migration from the Outer Islands have contributed to high population densities in Majuro and Ebeye Atolls. This in turn has necessitated importation of basic foodstuffs that are usually canned, or packaged in other non-biodegradable materials. When combined with the mentality and habit of disposing of solid waste indiscriminately, this trend has led to households producing substantial quantities of both biodegradable and non-biodegradable solid waste. In recent years, waste management on Majuro has improved with the creation of the Majuro-Atoll Waste Management Company. Through the support of health grants from ‘Compact Funds,’ the company has solidified relationships with development partners and other external funders and has developed a waste management regime for most of the main urban areas of Majuro including distribution of recycling bins.  

Republic of the Marshall Islands Country Environmental Analysis
Marshall Islands MSI+5 National Assessment Report

Coastal and Marine Resources


In November 1997, the Cabinet approved the National Fisheries Policy to help protect the Marshall Islands' marine resources.

With over two million square kilometers of ocean, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is blessed with a wide variety of marine resources. Marine resources are one of the main means of sustenance and livelihood in the Marshall Islands. The value of the annual catch of Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) vessels within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the marshall Islands is estimated to be around US$50 million annually. Catches of fish and shellfish are believed to be declining in lagoons and inshore reefs of many island countries in the Pacific region including the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Reasons for this decline are known to include over-exploitation and use of destructive fishing methods. In the Marshall Islands, over-exploitation has resulted from a combination of increasing population and the use of increasingly efficient, and sometimes destructive, fishing methods.

Republic of the Marshall Islands Country Environmental Analysis
Marshall Island National Report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development

Freshwater Resources


In 1994, the Marshall Islands Government approved the Environmental Protection Authority water supplies regulation.

Freshwater resources are limited and fragile, with piped water usually supplied to households on Majuro on only two days of the week. Ebeye is the only other island with piped water supply. In all outer islands and most households on Majuro and Ebeye, drinking water is collected from rain catchments. With no rain, Majuro has approximately only 38 days of water supply. Although the piped water is treated on Majuro and Ebeye, it is not considered fit for drinking. Majuro has a backup supply with two reverse osmosis water pumps. Given the low rainfall in Ebeye, freshwater is supplemented by desalination of saltwater.

Marshall Islands MSI+5 National Assessment Report
Marshall Island National Report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development

Land Resources


The Marshall Islands has submitted its First Report to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Land is held communally by family groups called bwij, which trace their claim to land matrilineally through the alap, or the person in immediate charge of a piece of land. Food crops in the Marshall Islands are produced primarily for private consumption. The main staple food crops are green and mature coconut, breadfruit and pandanus, which produces fruit and leaf used for various purposes. Imports have grown rapidly and have increasingly outstripped the slow-growing exports, since the production of locally processed food and supplements has not been fully developed. This situation is unnecessary as the percentage of underutilized, fertile land in the Marshall Islands is significant. There are well over 1,000 islets that have the potential to increase the output of agricultural food crops and other produce if properly utilized.

Marshall Islands First Report to the Unite Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Energy Resources


In 2009, the Marshall Islands approved a National Energy Policy to pursue sustainable development of the energy sector.

To date, the Marshall Islands generates all electricity in the outer islands using photovoltaic cells, whereas the energy on Majuro and Ebeye, where approximately 65% of the population lives, is obtained through diesel generation. Most of the Marshall Islands’ commercial and industrial activity occurs on Majuro. Overall electricity consumption, particularly on Majuro, has declined, principally because of rising tariffs and an increasing number of households unable to meet their electricity costs and being disconnected from the grid as a result. The Government is still vulnerable to external shocks, particularly with respect to diesel fuel, since the most population-dense and industry-laden regions of the country depend on diesel electricity generation.

Marshall Islands National Energy Policy
Marshall Islands MSI+5 National Assessment Report


In 2008, the Marshall Islands developed its National Tourism Development Plan 2008 – 2011.

The tourism industry in the Marshall Islands is in its infancy, yet the numbers of tourists that come into the Marshall Islands has been slowly but steadily increasing over the past years. The total number of visitors to the Marshall Islands ranges between 6000 to 7000 annually, of whom 5000 come for business purposes and the remainder tourism, and spend an estimated $2-3 million per year. There is thus considerable potential to develop the tourism industry, and a significant contribution can be made towards the development of the overall economy through the growth and development of this key sector. There have been a number of new hotel developments over the last five years which have expanded the Marshall Islands’ tourism capacity. However, the unpredictable schedule of Air Marshall Islands and cancelling of some services have compromised and limited developments.

Marshall Islands MSI+5 National Assessment Report
Marshall Islands National Report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development



The Marshall Islands has a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

The habitats of the Marshall Islands range from the well-vegetated and biologically diverse atoll, reef and marine areas in the south to the coral sand and rubble-based, dry, and less vegetated atoll islands to the north. The coral reef systems are home to over 800 species of fish, 1500 species of mollusks and more than 250 species of algae and stony corals. Additionally, there are seagrass and mangrove species in some atoll lagoons. The biodiversity of the land areas of the islands encompasses a complex array of ecosystems that are home to a wide array of endemic and introduced species of plants and animals. There are some 80 species of land plants, of which one is endemic to these islands and another two are endemic to Micronesia.

Marshall Islands First National Communication to the UNFCCC
Marshall Islands National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
Country Strategies: 
Title Programme Name Programme Description Year
UNFCCC Nat Comm - Marshall Islands Initial communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Strategy Description 2000
NBSAP - Marshall Islands Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Strategy Description 2000
NSDS - Marshall Islands Rio+10 Republic of the Marshall Islands National Report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002
Bill | 15 Jul 2013
12 July 2013: The Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) adopted the Nadi Draft Outcome Document, which will represent the Pacific region's contribution to the Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting for the 2014 Conference. The meeting, held in Nadi, Fiji, from 10-12 July 2013, was the second of three regional meetings in preparation for the Conference, which will take place in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014....
Bill | 27 Sep 2012
25 September 2012 – Two small Pacific Island states at ground zero for the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change and the need for mitigation efforts today called on the United Nations to ensure rapid attainment of legally binding agreement curbing global warming gasses. “The time is now over for endless North-South division and all-too predictable finger pointing must end,” President Christopher Loeak of the Marshall Islands, one of the lowest-lying nations in...
Bill | 27 Aug 2012
PREPARED BY OHRLLS   SUMMARY The 2012 Third World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), saw 36 representatives and heads of state from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) take to the floor during the Plenary Session to deliver statements on a range of issues of importance and relevance to them. Of the 36 SIDS representatives, 10 were Heads of State while 10 were Heads of Government making up 26% of the 77 Heads of State and Heads of Government who addressed the Plenary...
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