June 22, 2016 | Flight distance: 1028 nm | Hours in the air: 2.45
For the first time we were greeted by not so nice weather, in the morning that is. We decided to rent a car (some would call it a wreck) and drive up and down the slim island. Places of interest were supermarkets, official buildings and of course normal street life which came across like a run down small US town from the 80ies transplanted into a tropical setting. The strong American influence can not be overseen whether it’s cars, food or way of shopping. The locals certainly seems to be happy which is all that counts and we managed to find a nice place to have our “departing dinner” complemented by some decent wine we were scouting for around town all day. Major Tom made the impossible happen which means that we move our schedule one day ahead leaving for Pohnpei tomorrow.
The Marshall Islands are located near the equator, slightly west of the International Date Line. Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country’s population of around 53’000 people is spread out over 29 coral atolls, comprising 1’156 individual islands and islets. The islands share maritime boundaries with the Federated States of Micronesia to the west, Wake Island to the north, Kiribati to the south-east, and Nauru to the south. More than have of the islanders live on Majuro, which contains the capital.
The Bikini atoll, located on the western end of its territory, is sadly renowned for the first past WW II atomic tests starting in 1946. Some of the area remains contaminated despite of the assurance by the Americans at the time.
Micronesian colonists gradually settled the Marshall Islands during the 2nd millennium BC, with inter-island navigation made possible using traditional stick charts. Europeans first visited in the 1520s, with Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar sighting an atoll in August 1526. Other expeditions by Spanish and English ships followed. The islands derive their name from British explorer John Marshall, who visited in 1788.
The European powers recognized Spanish sovereignty over the islands in 1874. Spain sold the islands to the German Empire in 1884, and they became part of German New Guinea in 1885. In World War I the Empire of Japan occupied the Marshall Islands, which in 1919 the League of Nations combined with other former German territories to form the South Pacific Mandate. In WW II, the United States conquered the islands in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign. After the war, the Marshall Islands were then consolidated into the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands governed by the US. Self-government was achieved in 1979, and full sovereignty in 1986, under a Compact of Free Association with the United States. Marshall Islands has been a United Nations member state since 1991.