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Geography of the Marshall Islands


The Republic of the Marshall islands consists of 29 atolls each made up of many islets and 5 islands in the central Pacific between 4 degrees and 14 degrees North, and 160 degrees and 173 degrees East.


The atolls and islands are situated in two almost parallel chain-like formations known as the Ratak (Sunrise) group and Ralik (Sunset) group. The total number of islands and islets in the whole Republic is approximately 1,225 spreading across a sea area of over 750,000 square miles. The total land area is about 70 square miles (181 square kilometers). The mean height of the land is about 7 feet above sea level (2 meters).

Natural Resources

The people of the Marshalls share with all the people of the Pacific a deep and abiding respect for the land and the sea, elements which have provided them daily sustenance for thousands of years. This fragile natural environment has been well-tended in customary practice, providing a basis for subsistence living and for social, economic and cultural well-being. The RMI now faces threats to this natural resource base, including rapidly increasing population, rising material expectations, demands for economic growth and the depletion or degradation of natural resources.

Natural Resources: Phosphate deposits, marine products, deep seabed minerals

Flora and Fauna: Corals 180 species of coral can be found on Arno Atoll, 156 on Majuro Atoll. Many more are likely to exist here and elsewhere, but comprehensive studies remain to be completed.

Marine Turtles: All five of the world's species of marine turtles have been found in the Marshall Islands, two of which nest in the islands.

Marine Mammals: As many as 27 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises may occur in Marshallese waters.

Fish: Over 250 species of reef fish have been found in the RMI, most are edible. Tuna and game fish are abundant in Marshallese waters.

Marine Flora: 238 species of green, brown, red and blue-green algae. There are several beds of sea-grasses.

Terrestrial Vegetation: 60% of land area covered by Coconut Palms, no endemic species of vegetation are known.

Birds: 70 species have been identified, 31 species of seabirds of which 15 breed in the islands.

Mammals: The Polynesian rat is the only species native to the RMI

Reptiles: 7 species of lizards, 1 species of blind snake.

Arthropods: Numerous species of insects, spiders and land crabs; coconut crabs are common and prized for their meat.

Endangered Species: Blue whale, sperm whale, Micronesian pigeon, leatherback turtle, hawksbill turtle. Crimson-crowned fruit dove and Wake rail are now believed extinct.

Land Use: 33.1% agriculture; 13.5% meadows and pastures; 22.5% forest and woodland; 30.9% other