Marshall Islands

04 April 2014

The Republic of the Marshall Islands spreads across about thirty atolls, many islets, and a few tiny islands. Most barely rise above sea level. Even at its highest point, Marjuro Atoll, home of the capital, is no more than ten feet (3m) above sea level. It also has a cool flag.

On, Majuro's top rated attraction ― I'm not making this up ― was leaving Majuro to go off to a less developed atoll (Arno) for better dive sites. Ouch.

The second top attraction? This bridge shown above — the highest point on the low-lying atoll, excluding buildings.

Actually, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, and enjoying Laura Beach seem to be prime activities, but they did not make the online cut (as of 4/1/14).

Boats in the Majuro lagoon

The geography and topography of the Marshall Islands are remarkable. Just look on the right at Google's map of the thin Majoru atoll. And look at the squeezed airport landing strip below.

The atoll is about 30 miles long (48 km) and often no more than 200 yards wide. One road goes end to end.

Earlier in March before I arrived, annual "king tides" swept over parts of the low-lying atoll and did some damage. Unlike Guam, no tsunami evacuation signs here. Nowhere higher for 25,000 residents to go.

I'm sure many must have commented that this country should have been named the Marshal Atolls, not Islands.

See my prior post for a summary of the history and curious status that the Marshall Islands share with Palau and Micronesia.

March, 2014, when I was in Majuro, was the 60th anniversary of the detonation of the most powerful atmospheric nuclear bomb tested in Bikini and Enewetak Atolls. Across from my hotel was the Nuclear Claims Tribunal where I spoke with the two women who work there part time as funds are now almost depleted.

Bikini Atoll Town Hall in Majuro, Marshall Islands
Many former residents of radioactive Bikini Atoll were finally resettled in Majuro and there is a "town hall" community center for them.

Whatever might be excused due to ignorance at the time, the U.S. government and military have botched this terribly over the years.