About the Republic of the Marshall Islands


Youth literacy (2011)


of the total population is unemployed (1999)


Youth unemployment (1999)


years is the life expectancy (2011)


infant mortality per 1,000 live births (2009-11)


is the population growth rate

About the Marshall Islands


 Majuro, Marshall Islands. Photo: Evan Naqiolevu.

The government is modeled after the British Westminster parliamentary system with a bi-cameral legislature composed of two houses; the Council of Iroij (Chiefs) and the Nitijela (Parliament). The Council of Iroij does not have legislative or executive power, but can make comments on bills in reference to customary law and other traditional practices. Executive power is exercised by the President, the Cabinet, the Attorney General, and the Chief Secretary. The President is elected from within the Nitijela, which is composed of 33 senators popularly elected from their respective electoral districts. At the municipal level, each atoll has a local government composed of an elected Mayor and Council.

Since the end of World War II, the RMI has retained close economic and political ties with the US. Since 1986, this relationship has been formalized in the form of the Compact of Free Association. In addition to the Millennium Declaration, the RMI government has committed to a wide range of international conventions and treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.


Like other Pacific Island nations, the RMI is remote from major markets, has a narrow production and export base, is vulnerable to external shocks and is relatively dependent on official transfers. Funding from the Compact of Free Association provides well over half of the RMI’s annual budgetary resources. Remittances are not a major contributor to incomes in the RMI. The RMI Community Survey 2006 found that on Majuro, only 12 percent of households reported to have received any sort of remittance income from abroad. Recent Balance of Payments estimates by the International Monetary Fund show that annual remittances coming into the RMI (current private transfers) are averaging only around $500,000.

The public sector continues to play a dominant role in terms of contribution to GDP and employment. The government sector (including state-owned enterprises) accounts for approximately 40 percent of GDP and 41 percent of formal employment.

The primary commercial industries include wholesale/retail trade, general business services (covering a wide range of business types), commercial fisheries, construction, tourism, and light manufacturing. The primary export products include frozen fish (tuna), tropical fish, ornamental clams and corals, coconut oil, copra cake, and crafts. Annual export values have doubled to nearly $20 million since 2001 (according to EPPSO revised Balance of Payments data for 2008), driven largely by increasing exports of tuna by locally based fishing operations. Nevertheless, the RMI continues to rely heavily on imports and ran a trade deficit of around $60 million in FY2008.

Republic of the Marshall Islands Millennium Development Goals Progress Report 2009

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