Located in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), 2,100 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii, Kwajalein is the world's largest coral atoll surrounding the world's largest lagoon.
My friend Steve emailed me the above picture yesterday, that is where he is now working. Isn't it awesome? I was so impressed by the islands, I decided to research it a bit more and do a post.
16th century. Two British captains, John Marshall and Thomas Gilbert,sailed into the islands aboard
The Spanish were the first Europeans to sail into and explore the Pacific (with Magellan landing
on Guam in 1521), and at least seven Spanish ships sailed through the Marshalls during the
the ships Scarborough and Charlotte (as you will note, these two captains took the
opportunity to name the two neighboring island groups after themselves!). Together, Marshall
and Gilbert traded with the islanders and mapped the atolls of Arno, Majuro, Aur, Maloelap,
Wotje, Erikub, and Ailuk.
Then in 1816, Captain Otto von Kotzebue visited the Marshalls aboard the Rurik (Kotzebue was
actually a German Estonian sailing for the Russian Czar).
The next documented visit to the Marshalls was by an American ship, the Globe, aboard which a
great mutiny occurred 1828. Two survivors of the mutiny lived on
Mili Atoll that year and were later rescued by the U.S. Navy.
American missionaries were the next to arrive on the scene, sailing
from Honolulu and landing on Ebon atoll in 1857. By the end of
that century, the American missionaries (from the American Board of Commisioners for Foreign
Missions- or ABCFDM) had established churches on almost
in Samoa, German traders began moving north in the 1850s and in
1859, Adolph Capelle arrived on Ebon Atoll to set up a trading post.
Capelle, who was originally from Hanover, was joined by Portugese
Jose deBrum and together they built the first permanent trading
post in the Marshalls.
The Marshalls were eventually declared a German protectorate in
1885 with headquarters on Jaluit Atoll.
In 1914, after 29 years of German protectorate status, World War I
broke out. Japan took over military possession from Germany
in October of that year and began establishing its own commercial
ventures, with bases on Jaluit and Majuro.
In 1922, Japan was formally awarded the Marshalls as a Class “C” mandate by the League of
Nations. But in 1933, Japan withdrew from the League of
Nations and, in anticipation of World War II, it began militarily
fortifying the atolls of Kwajalein, Wotje, Maloelap, Jaluit, and later
Mili and Enewetak.
After heavy fighting in the Marshalls (as well as other parts of the Pacific) the islands were
taken over by the US. The Navy immediately governed the Marshalls and in 1947 the
islands were given to the US as a UN Strategic Trust. In 1951,
the Department of Interior took
over the administration. Meanwhile, from 1946 to 1954, the US conducted 67 nuclear
tests in, above, and around Bikini and Enewetak atolls (the reconciliation of which remains
an important issue between the Marshalls and the US today.)
In the late 1970s, while still under UN Trust status with the
US, a growing desire for independence led the Marshalls
to embark on an endeavor towards self-determination. This
was eventually accomplished in 1986 when the country was
transformed into a selfgoverning democracy in free
association with the US: the Republic of the Marshall Islands.