Timeline Marshall Islands (The Republic of
the Marshall Islands)
Return to home Lying in Micronesia the group is composed of 31
coral atolls in the Ratak and Ralik island chains. Some 63,000
people are scattered over 180 sq. miles of land. Some 1,225 islets
clustered into 20 coral atolls strewn across 750,000 square miles
make up the Marshall Islands.
(SFC, 12/27/96, p.A24)(SFC, 7/18/98, p.A1)(SFC, 3/8/99, p.A12)
1914-1919 The Marshall Islands
were occupied by the Japanese during WW I.
(SFC, 12/27/96, p.A24)
1939-1945 The Marshall islands were captured by US
forces during WW II.
(SFC, 12/27/96, p.A24)
1940s-1950s The US conducted 67 above ground
nuclear and thermonuclear tests in the Marshall Islands.
(SFC, 12/7/99, p.A10)
1942 Feb 1, Planes of the U.S.
Pacific fleet attacked Japanese bases in the Marshall and Gilbert
1943 Dec 8, U.S. carriers sank
two cruisers and down 72 planes in the Marshall Islands.
1944 Jan 31, During World War
II, U.S. forces under Vice Adm. Spruance began invading Kwajalein
Atoll and other parts of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
(AP, 1/31/98)(HN, 1/31/99)
1944 Feb 1, U.S. Army troops
invaded two Kwajalein Islands in the Pacific. [see Jan 31]
1944 Feb 17, U.S forces landed
on Eniwetok atoll in the South Pacific Marshall Islands. Battle of
Eniwetok Atoll began. US victory on Feb 22.
(HN, 2/17/99)(MC, 2/17/02)
1944 Feb 20, US took Eniwetok
1944 Jun 11, US carrier-based
planes attacked Japanese airfields on Guam, Rota, Saipan and Tinian
islands, preparing for the invasion of Saipan. US naval and air
bombardments lasted from 11–13 June 1944, involving 216 carrier
aircraft and land-based B-24 bombers from the Marshall Islands.
1944 Oct 28, The first B-29
Superfortress bomber mission flew from the airfields in the Mariana
Islands in a strike against the Japanese base at Turk [Truk].
1945-1986 The Marshall Islands were ruled by the
US as part of a UN trusteeship.
(SFC, 12/7/99, p.A10)
1946-1958 The US conducted 67 nuclear test blasts
at the Bikini and Eniwetok atolls over this period. The tests in the
northern Marshall Islands released radioactive iodine said to be 150
times worse than the contamination from Chernobyl in 1986. A Nuclear
Claims Tribunal was later set up by the government of the US and the
Marshall Islands to compensate those displaced or suffering health
problems due to the tests. The 150 million dollars the US provided
for paying settlements ran out in 2005. The US State Department said
there is no obligation to pay more.
(SFC, 3/8/99, p.A16)(Econ, 1/12/08, p.38)(AFP,
1952 Nov 1, The United
States exploded the first hydrogen bomb, codenamed "Ivy Mike," in a
test at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. The element einsteinium
was discovered in the debris of the 1st hydrogen bomb test. In 2002
Greg Herken authored "Brotherhood of the Bomb: the Tangled Lives and
Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence and Edward Teller."
(AP, 11/1/07)(NH, 7/02, p.35)(SSFC, 10/12/02,
1954 Mar 1, The Bravo hydrogen
bomb test exploded across Bikini atoll (Marshall Islands) with the
force of 1,000 Hiroshima bombs. A Nuclear Claims Tribunal,
established in 1986, later awarded Bikini and Enewetak 500 million
dollars but only a fraction of the amount was received. A Nov 30,
2004, deadline limited further suits.
1954 Mar 1, The No. 5
Fukuryu-maru was trolling for tuna off the Bikini atoll in the
Pacific during the Bravo hydrogen bomb test. 11 crew members died in
the half-century since the exposure, at least six of them from liver
cancer. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 66
nuclear tests at Bikini as part of "Operation Crossroads."
1954 Mar 26, The U.S. set off
the second H-bomb blast in four weeks in the Marshall Islands at
Bikini Island. The 15-megaton device was 750 times more powerful
than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The blast contaminated
the neighboring island of Rongelap and nearly 100 people on the
island and other downwind atolls.
(HN, 3/25/98)(SFC, 12/7/99, p.A10)(SS, 3/26/02)
1958 Apr 28, The United States
conducted the first of 35 nuclear test explosions in the Pacific
Proving Ground as part of Operation Hardtack I.
1958 May 6, The US "Cactus"
bomb test was relatively small, but it left a lasting legacy for the
Marshall Islands in a dome-shaped radioactive dump. It was built two
decades after the blast in the Pacific Ocean region. The US military
filled the bomb crater on Runit island with radioactive waste,
capped it with concrete, and told displaced residents of the
Pacific's remote Enewetak atoll they could safely return home. The
45-cm (18-inch) thick concrete dome later developed cracks.
1971 Australia joined with New
Zealand and 14 independent of self-governing island nations to form
the South Pacific Forum. The name was changed in 2000 to Pacific
Islands Forum. Member states include: Australia, the Cook Islands,
the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall
Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa,
the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Since 2006,
associate members territories are New Caledonia and French
Polynesia. In 2011 Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa
became associate members.
1972 Amata Kabua (1928-1996)
founded and led the Political Movement for the Marshall Islands
Separation from Micronesia.
(SFC, 12/27/96, p.A24)
1978 The Marshallese voted for
independence from other districts of the Trust Territory of the
1978 Doctors ordered a 2nd
evacuation from Bikini due to high radiation.
(SFC, 12/7/99, p.A12)
1979 May 1, The people of the
Marshall Islands ratified their own constitution and the
constitutional government came into being. In recognition of the
evolving political status of the Marshall Islands, the US recognized
the constitution of the Marshall Islands and the establishment of
the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Mr. Amata
Kabua (1928-1996) became the first president.
1979 Jul, Imata Kabua led a
protest against US operations in the Marshall Islands.
(SFC, 3/8/99, p.A16)
1983 The Marshall Islands
received $183.7 million for the 1946-1958 US nuclear tests near
1986 Oct 21, The US, Micronesia
and the Marshall Islands formed a Compact of Free Association (CFA).
Tens of millions in economic benefits along with security and
defense of the islands was exchanged for the right to deny access to
third countries. The US paid $270 million in compensation to nuclear
victims under the 1st phase of the CFA (1986-2001), insisting that
was a full and final arrangement.
(SFC, 3/8/99, p.A16)(SFC, 1/4/00, p.A12)(Econ,
1986 The Marshall Islands and
the Federated States of Micronesia were granted independence.
(SFC, 1/4/00, p.A12)
1990 The Marshall Islands
first president signed a deal with a company, International
Registries Inc., to create a tax-friendly, low-cost way for ships to
sail under the Marshall Islands flag.
(NY Times, 6/4/21)
1991 Sep 17, The U.N. General
Assembly opened its 46th session, welcoming new members Estonia,
Latvia, Lithuania, North and South Korea, the Marshall Islands and
1996 Dec 19, Pres. Amata Kabua
(SFC, 12/27/96, p.A24)
1998 Jul 17, Rising seawater
was attacking the coastline of the islands.
(SFC, 7/18/98, p.A1)
1999 Jan 31, Phillip Muller,
the foreign minister, said his government would seek a rent increase
from the US for the use of the Kwajalein Atoll, the only place where
the US was able to test long range components of its missile defense
(SFC, 3/8/99, p.A16)(SFC, 1/4/00, p.A12)
2001 Dec 3, A test US
anti-missile launched from Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands
successfully hit a dummy warhead from Vandenberg Air Base in
California, 4,800 miles away.
(SFC, 12/4/01, p.A4)
2001 A 15 year lease by the US
for Kwajalein Atoll was due to expire.
(SFC, 3/8/99, p.A12)
2001 US payments under the
Compact of Free Association were scheduled to end.
(SFC, 1/4/00, p.A12)
2003 The Marshall Islands
renegotiated its Compact of Free Association (CFA) with the US.
America insisted on a separate agreement giving it continued access
to its $4 billion missile defense site on Kwajalein until at least
2066 for $15 million a year, rising to $18 million after 2014.
(Econ, 1/12/08, p.37)
2005 Feb 15, The Guam-based
Citizens Security Bank (CSB) ended credit card and other services to
the Bank of Marshall Islands. Residents of the Marshall Islands will
be unable to use their credit cards after the central Pacific
nation's leading bank was cut off from a US partner by the
anti-terrorist Patriot Act.
2007 Mar 20, The second flight
of Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) low-cost Falcon 1 rocket
reached 200 miles altitude but did not make it to orbit due to the
premature shutdown of its second-stage Kestrel engine. SpaceX
launched the two-stage Falcon 1 rocket from its Omelek Island launch
site in the Marshall Islands, but the rocket failed to reach its
intended 425-mile (685-kilometer) orbit due to a roll control
2007 Sep 13, In the Marshall
Islands legislation was introduced aiming to open up the
communications sector by removing the telecom agency's exclusive
rights. This was likely to become an issue ahead of national
elections in November.
2008 Jan 7, Voters in the
Marshall Islands ditched the pro-American administration led by
Kessai Note and elected a government backed by disgruntled chiefs
and senators from the nuclear-affected atolls.
(Econ, 1/12/08, p.37)
2008 Dec 25, The Marshall
Islands declared a state of emergency after severe flooding, that
occurred from Dec. 9 to Dec. 15, forced more than 600 people from
2008 About 62,000 inhabited the
2009 May 29, The nonbinding New
York Declaration, an agreement between the signatory flag states
which condemns acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels and
seafarers, was originally tabled by The Bahamas, the Republic of
Liberia, the Republic of Marshall Islands and the Republic of
Panama, four nations that account for more than half of global
2009 Oct 8, Former Marshall
Islands president and powerful traditional chief Imata Kabua said he
was challenging the treaty negotiated between the Marshall Islands
government and the US covering the years after 2016 when the current
lease for the missile base expires. The Compact of Free Association
between the two countries approved in 2003 provides the US with use
of the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll until 2066.
2009 Oct 26, In the Marshall
Islands traditional chief Jurelang Zedkaia was elected president by
a slender 17-15 margin, replacing Litokwa Tomeing who was ousted in
a no-confidence vote last week.
2010 Jan 30, In the Marshall
Islands the government considered invoking special powers of
quarantine as an outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis has been
declared a public health emergency.
2010 Jul 23, The Marshall
Islands region of Ebeye, which has the unflattering reputation as
the "slum of the Pacific" has now been damned in a US Army report as
a health threat to residents.
2010 Jul 31, UNESCO added seven
cultural sites to its World Heritage List including Bikini Atoll in
the Marshall Islands, home to nuclear bomb testing in the 1940s and
1950s. Also added to the list were the Turaif District in Saudi
Arabia; Australia's penal colony sites; the Jantar Mantar
astronomical observation site in India; a shrine in Ardabil in Iran;
the Tabriz historic bazaar complex, also in Iran; and the historic
villages of Hahoe and Yangdong in South Korea.
2011 May 11, The United States
signed a deal with the Marshall Islands to continue using the key
missile testing range at Kwajalein Atoll through to 2066.
2013 Sep 3, Leaders of Pacific
nations gathered in Majuro, Marshall Islands, for their annual
Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Marshall Islands Pres. Christopher
Loeak hoped to drum up support for a “Majuro declaration" on climate
(Econ, 8/31/13, p.32)
2014 Apr 24, The Marshall
Islands filed suit against each of the nine nuclear-armed nations
with an unprecedented lawsuit demanding that they meet their
obligations toward disarmament and accusing them of "flagrant
violations" of international law. The Marshall Islands claims the
nine countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals instead of
2015 Feb 3, A SF Bay Area judge
dismissed a lawsuit filed on April 24, 2014, by the Marshall Islands
that charged the US and other countries of violating the 1970
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
(SFC, 2/4/15, p.A8)
2015 May 23, Japan pledged 55
billion yen ($450 million) in aid to Pacific island nations,
including Fiji, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and
others, that are battling rising sea levels and natural calamities
as a result of global warming.
2015 Jul 19, The Marshall
Islands, a small island country at high risk of climate
change-induced sea level rise, vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions
by a third within a decade.
2015 Oct 1, The foreign
minister and the people of the Marshall Islands were honored for
taking legal action against the nuclear powers for failing to honor
disarmament obligations. Tony de Brum and the people of the Pacific
island group shared the honorary portion of the 2015 Right
Livelihood Award, sometimes referred to as the "alternative Nobel."
This year's 3-million-kronor ($358,500) cash award was shared by
Canada's Sheila Watt-Cloutier, for her supports to Inuit causes;
Uganda's Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, for her struggle for sexual
minorities' rights; and Italian surgeon Gino Strada, for providing
medical assistance to victims of war.
2016 Mar 7, In the Netherlands
the Marshall Islands began legal proceedings against India at the
International Court of Justice, as part of cases against three of
the world's nuclear powers aimed at breathing new life into
2017 Dec 5, The European Union
put 17 non-EU countries on a blacklist of those it deems guilty of
unfairly offering tax avoidance schemes. They Included: American
Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau,
Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, St. Lucia,
Samoa, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates. Over
40 more were put on a "grey list" to be monitored until they are
fully committed to reforms.
2018 Mar 3, It was reported
that the Marshall Islands became the first country in the world to
recognize a cryptocurrency as its legal tender when it passed a law
this past week to create the digital "Sovereign," or SOV. In the
nation of 60,000, the cryptocurrency will have equal status with the
US dollar as a form of payment.
2019 Jan 22, It was reported
that research from the University of Arkansas shows that more than
12,000 people from the Marshall Islands now live in northwest
2019 Mar 12, European Union
governments adopted a broadened blacklist of tax havens, adding the
United Arab Emirates and British and Dutch overseas territories in a
revamp that tripled the number of listed jurisdictions. The new list
added Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, Barbados, Belize, the British
overseas territory of Bermuda, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Oman, the
United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu and Dominica. The EU blacklist
originally comprised 17 jurisdictions, including the UAE, but shrank
to five after most listed states committed to change their tax
2019 Oct 8, Paul Petersen, a
property tax assessor in Maricopa County, Arizona, was arrested for
allegedly running a human smuggling scheme which brought dozens of
pregnant women from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean to the
US, but refused to resign from his job. On Oct. 28 he was suspended
without pay for 120 days by the Maricopa County Board of
(The Independent, 10/29/19)
2019 Oct 9, It was reported
that the assessor of Arizona's Maricopa county has been indicted in
an adoption fraud case, accused of arranging for dozens of pregnant
women from the Marshall Islands to come to the US to give their
children up for adoption. Utah also has charged Maricopa County
Assessor Paul Petersen with 11 felony counts, including human
smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud.
2020 Mar, Early this month the
Marshall Islands sealed itself off, banning all inbound visitors due
to the coronavirus. Even supply vessels were require to wait 14 days
at sea before berthing.
(Econ, 3/21/20, p.34)
2020 Oct 29, The Marshall
Islands reported its first cases of the coronavirus after two people
who flew from Hawaii to a US military base tested positive.
(SFC, 10/30/20, p.A9)
2020 Dec 1, Former Arizona
politician Paul Petersen, who admitted running an illegal adoption
scheme in three states involving women from the Marshall Islands,
was sentenced in Arkansas to six years in federal prison. It was the
first of three punishments he’ll face for arranging adoptions
prohibited by an international compact.