The Marshall Islands is an island country in the Pacific Ocean. As an island nation, it shares no land borders. However, nearby islands include Wake Island (north), Kiribati (south-east), Nauru (south), and the Federated States of Micronesia (west).
The tiny country is not a popular travel destination and has been ranked as one of the least visited countries in the world. The country still amazes everyone with its white sand beaches, lush green vegetation, blue lagoons and beautiful coral reefs.
Interesting facts about Marshall Islands
1. The Marshall Islands is made up of two archipelagic chains, with a total of 29 atolls. On each atoll there are a number of islands. Atolls form when corals build a colony, or reef, around the top of a volcanic island. Eventually, the reef reaches the surface of the water and becomes land.
This makes Marshall Islands as one of the two countries in the world made up entirely of low-lying coral atolls; Kiribati being the second one.
2. The country derives its name from British explorer John Marshall, who visited in 1788. The islands were previously known as “jolet jen Anij” (Gifts from God).
3. After World War II ended, US used the country for the nuclear testing. From 1946 to 1958, the United States detonated 67 atomic bombs on the islands. During a hydrogen bomb test, Elugelab which was a Marshallese island was blown up. It’s sad to know that effects of this testing are still felt in the country. Even today the country struggles with radiation related cancers and birth defects.
4. The word “Bikini” was borrowed from the country. In 1946, French designer Louis Reard came up with a swimsuit design which was so scandalous that no model agreed to wear it. He considered his creation to be a bombshell, and named it after Bikini Atoll – a place where US did atomic bomb testing the same year. I guess he took the bombshell bit to a literal level.
5. Hello, Namaste, Hola! How do you greet people in this island nation? The most common greeting you will here is iakwe, pronounced “yawk-way.” It translates to “you are a rainbow”. Wow! Let me tell you we all are rainbows 🙂
6. The islands are so narrow that you will have just one road running their length. No diversion, no shortcuts, you will have only one way to follow.
7. Let me tell you why you should visit Marshall Islands. That’s because it won’t be around for long. Due to climate change and the fact that the atolls and islands are only a couple of metres above sea level, the Marshall Islands are at serious threat of a rising sea level. The entire population living here will soon be forced to leave their home.
8. As an island nation that rose from the sea floor there were no native mammals in the Marshall Islands. But the marine life is in plenty. The islands are home to over 1,000 species of fish and more than 250 species of soft and hard corals. With the crystal clear water, it’s considered to be a great place for diving.
9. When talking about flora, you will see a flower known as “The Flame of the Forest” which is present on all atolls. The locals consider it as a symbol for blessings.
10. Long before the country was colonized, people here had been sailing successfully through the vast stretches of open water. They used a technique called “wave piloting” which involves navigating based on the feeling of the ocean, the way waves roll and reflect off distant islands. You can still see the locals trying to preserve this ancient skill.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Marsall Islands:
There are a lot of diving sites around the country and you can pick a spot to explore the corals. Kalalin Pass is full of steep coral walls and a wide variety of fish. Then there is the famous Bikini Atoll, a top spot for wreck diving. You will find dozens of sunken vessels from the time of World War II.
Go island hopping in Maloelap Atoll. The amazing set of islands has the best scenery. There are also many historical buildings to explore.
The capital city Majuro will be your base and you should definitely explore the city. Check out the stunning Majuro Bridge, indulge yourself in the local cuisine and relax at the golden beaches of Majuro.