About half the Marshall Islands’ present population of around 60,000 live in Majuro. The Majuro administrative offices and tourist facilities, and a lovely stretch of beach called Laura.

Named after a 18th century British sea captain, the Marshall Islands consist of 29 atolls and five coral islands that are equal to Washington, D.C. Yet in terms of land area it is huge, scattered over 780,000 square miles of the Central Pacific Ocean. U.S. forces gained control of the Marshall Islands from Japan toward the end of World War II, and subsequently conducted nuclear weapons tests on the Enewetak and Bikini atolls. The Kwajalein atoll still hosts a US ballistic missile test range.

The Marshall Islands economy is based on farming, fishing (especially tuna for sushi), and tourism. Coconut products account for 90 percent of the nation’s export volume. The Marshall Islands offer what most people dream of when they think of a tropical paradise, with palm trees, white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, and coral reefs abound. While the more populated atolls have suffered environmental degradation, the outer islands are still a haven for adventurous sports fisherman, scuba divers and snorkelers.

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