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szdaily -> Speak Shenzhen
Marshall Islands: gifts from God
    2017-December-21  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

If one were to consider the entire area of the Marshall Islands — including the sea — it would be about the size of Mexico. But the land itself? Just over 180 square kilometers — about the size of Shenzhen’s Longhua District — making it the 189th largest country in the world.

Located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, just west of the International Date Line, its distant neighbors include Wake Island (north), Kiribati (south-east), Nauru (south), and the Federated States of Micronesia, or FSM (west).

These last constitute a country which is sometimes simply called “Micronesia.” But Micronesia also denotes a subregion that includes the Marshalls, FSM, Palau, Kiribati, Nauru, and three U.S. territories (the Northern Marianas, Guam and Wake). Melanesia and Polynesia are the two other subregions of Oceania.

The Marshalls are named after John Marshall, a British explorer who visited the islands in 1788. It was he who charted both these and the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati), though the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan may have been the first European to visit some of the islands in the 1520s, some two-and-a-half centuries earlier.

The Marshalls have a most intriguing endonym. The people called the islands “jolet jen Anij,” or “gifts from God.” In the absence of a tourism slogan for the Marshalls, that moniker will do.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands has around 53,000 people living on 29 coral atolls, made up of over 1,150 separate islands and islets. One of these, Bikini Atoll (which lent its name to a popular bathing suit for women), was the site of 23 tests of U.S. atomic bombs between 1946 and 1958. Over half of Marshall Islanders live on Majuro, an atoll of 64 islands, where the capital is located. Majuro is also a seaport and international airport.

The Marshalls have changed hands many times, having been governed by Spain, the German Empire, Japan and the United States. They have been independent since 1989. Marshallese and English are the official languages.

Vocabulary:

Which word above means:

1. name, nickname

2. ring-shaped reef around a lagoon

3. mapped

4. Skeletons found in the sea that form reefs

5. roughly, the 180-degrees east or west line, where one day becomes another

6. nuclear weapons

7. make up, compose

8. interesting, fascinating

9. place where ships can load and unload

10. divisions of a region

 

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