Monday, May 23, 2022

Travel the World - Marshall Islands

I started a 50-week series in 2019 that I called Travel the World. Each week of the series I visited a randomly-selected country, sharing bits of information about that country. I then chose one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. As I explored those 50 countries in 2019, I knew I would continue on until I've visited every one of the 195 countries in the world. By the end of 2021, I'd virtually traveled to 145 countries and plan to complete my journey to all 195 countries by visiting the last 50 this year.

This week's country is...

Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands is an island nation in the central Pacific OceanThe islands are located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.

The Marshall Islands – or the Republic of the Marshall Islands – is a collection of 1,225 islands and atolls scattered across the Pacific Ocean. 

The islands and inlets lie in two parallel chains of coral atolls—the Ratak, or Sunrise, to the east and the Ralik, or Sunset, to the west. The chains lie about 125 miles apart and extend some 800 miles northwest to southeast.

The islands are coral caps set on the rims of submerged volcanoes rising from the ocean floor. 

Marshall Islands is the sixth smallest sovereign state in the world in terms of land area with 70 square miles.

The Marshall Islands are scattered over a vast area of ocean about 730,000 square miles; equivalent in size to Mexico.

In total, the Marshall Islands is home to just over fifty thousand people.

Most people live in urban clusters found on many of the country's islands; more than two-thirds of the population lives on the atolls of Majuro and Ebeye.

There are 29 separate atolls in the Marshalls, containing a total of 1,225 islands, 870 reef systems and 160 species of coral. It’s one of only four atoll nations in the world. 

Most of the Marshall Islands are true atolls, consisting of an irregular, oval-shaped coral reef surrounding a lagoon; the islets lie along the coral reef. 

Twenty-four of the atolls and islands are inhabited.

Annual precipitation varies from 20 to 30 inches in the north to 160 inches in the southern atolls. The wettest months are October and November. Several of the northern atolls are uninhabited owing to insufficient rainfall.

Most of the islands are so narrow that there’s just one road running the entire length of them.

There are paved roads only on the two largest atolls of the archipelago.

The average altitude above sea level for the entire country is only 7 feet.

The Marshall Islands are the most endangered nation in the world due to flooding from climate change.

Swimming, surfing, paddle boarding and diving are all popular activities in the Marshall Islands’ waters. Sailing is also a popular attraction for local residents as well as visitors to the area.

The coastline of the islands totals 230 miles in length.

Despite its deserted beaches and superb scuba diving, it’s the second-least visited country in the world.

The country only receives around 5,000 tourists a year.

The clear-blue waters, surrounding the Marshall Islands are home to over 1,000 species of fish and more than 250 species of soft and hard corals. With crystal clear visibility, dramatic drop-offs and several wrecks to explore, it’s considered one of the best places in the world to scuba dive.

The islands and islets of the Ratak chain tend to be more heavily wooded than those of the Ralik. Coconut and pandanus palms and breadfruit trees are the principal vegetation. 

Majuro is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is also a large coral atoll of 64 islands. Majuro has a port, shopping district, hotels, and an international airport.

American missionaries arrived in the Marshalls in the 1850s, introducing Christianity to the population. Today the Marshallese are predominantly Christian.

The Flame of the Forest is a flower that is present on all atolls, which the locals consider as symbols for blessings.

The US provides millions of dollars in aid annually and still controls the security and defense of the islands. It also rents out the Kwajalein atoll as a base and missile test range. A number of islands are off-limits due to US military presence. As a result, the Marshall Islands is one of 22 countries without a standing military.

The only indigenous land mammal in the Marshall Islands is the Polynesian rat.

The country is brimming with marine life, including more than 1,000 species of fish.

Marshall Islands is home to the world's largest shark sanctuary.

A major attraction for divers is the crystal clear water marine life and sunken ships which can be explored around the coasts. 

Copra, or dried coconut meat, is important to Marshallese economy.

A popular way of greeting long-lost or current friends is by saying; ‘iakwe’.
This translates to ‘you are a rainbow’! It is pronounced ‘yawk-way’!

The Marshall Island produces and exports tomatoes, breadfruit, shells and more!

There are only two hospitals in the entire country.

Transportation among the atolls and islands is by boat or air. 

Majuro and Kwajalein have international airports, and domestic and regional flights link some of the other atolls and islands.

Majuro and Jaluit atolls each have a public secondary school. Majuro is also the site of the College of the Marshall Islands (1993), which grants certificates and associate degrees in a variety of programs.

Males typically perform activities associated with the sea and sky (fishing, canoe building, gathering drinking coconuts, capturing birds) while females dominate activities on the land (digging arrowroot or gathering pandanus fronds). Females also control the domestic sphere and are associated with activities in the village, while men work in the bush lands away from the village and travel freely to foreign countries.

Infants are indulged, with few restrictions on their activities. They are nursed until two or three years of age, or until the birth of a younger sibling. Infants are fully integrated into daily domestic activities, and are carried on the hip by working mothers or slightly older siblings.

By the age of four or five, children become nursemaids. They assist with babies, run errands, and attend to small chores around the residence. Young boys are given freedom to explore beyond the village, and they frequently accompany older siblings, fathers, or mother's brothers on fishing and gathering expeditions. While children are given considerable freedom, they are also admonished with strict shouts of nana! (bad!) when important social boundaries have been crossed.

Recently, many Marshall Islanders have chosen to pursue higher education, usually in the United States where they are eligible for education loans.

In 2008, athletes from the Marshall Islands took part in the Olympic Games for the first time, but did not take prizes.

My inspiration for this week's card is based on this fact about Marshall Islands... A child's first birthday celebration, known as kemem, is one of the most important celebrations in the Marshall Islands. Extended family members and friends celebrate the occasion with huge feasts.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Stamp Set: Whipper Snapper Birthday Pup stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black Ink and colored with Copic Markers

Paper: Accent Opaque 120# White and SU Real Red CS and DP from my scrap file

Dies: Gina K Master Layouts 1, MFT Stitched Mod Rectangles, and MFT Stitched Rectangles

Embellishments: Heart-shaped Brad from an unknown vendor


Aracelli Merla said...

Very interesting. Nursing until the child is two or three? Ouch! I love your card and the design is beautiful. Nicely done. Thank you for all that research.

kiwimeskreations said...

What a gorgeous card Jeanette - love the image. The facts about the islands are fascinating - only two colleges!!

Barb said...

Cute Card with such a sweet image!