Special Sub-Topic: The Marshall Islands
|Do the Marshall Islands lie north of the Equator?|
y. Lying between 4 and 19 degrees north of the Equator, the islands and atolls of the Marshall Islands form two major chains lying parallel to each other. They are called Ratak and Ralik, which translate as East and West, or Sunrise and Sunset chain.
|A DUD for the capital? Surely not! In fact, the DUD stands for Dulap-Uliga-Djarrit, which are the three main islands that make up the capital of the Marshall Islands. Which atoll are they part of? (The name of the atoll is also the official name of the capital).|
Majuro. Majuro Atoll consists of 64 islands surrounding a central lagoon of just over 113 square miles in area. As the actual total land area is less than four square miles, the land forms a thin ribbon around the lagoon, and in some spots is only a few feet wide from lagoon shore to sea shore.
|Perhaps the most famous island of the Marshall Islands is Bikini Atoll. It is sometimes also called Pikinni, from the Marshallese words for surface and coconut. When it was originally discovered, in the 1820s, it was named for a Russian scientist; what was it called?|
Eschscholtz Atoll. The discoverer was the German Otto von Kotzebue, who was a navigator on a Russian exploration vessel. He is remembered for his two books about his travels: "A Voyage of Discovery into the South Sea and Bering's Straits for the Purpose of exploring a North-East Passage, undertaken in the Years 1815-1818", published in 1821, and "A New Voyage Round the World in the Years 1823-1826", published in 1830.
Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz visited the Marshall Islands in 1825, and was the first scientist to document various species of wildlife indigenous to the islands.
|When Bikini Atoll was used for the United States nuclear testing programme, the residents were evacuated. They went first to Rongerik Island, then in 1948 they were relocated once more to a previously uninhabited atoll. Since then, they and their descendants have remained there. Which atoll was this?|
Kili. Kili Atoll is one of the smallest of the Marshall Islands, with an area of less than half a square mile. The tiny population, of around 600 residents, has lived by subsistence farming and aid from the governments of the Marshall Islands and the USA.
Kili is one of the few Marshall Islands that has no lagoon or coral reefs around it. This means that the island is cut off during bad weather, as ships cannot approach.
The other three islands listed are all uninhabited.
|The Marshallese island of Elugelab, also known as Elugelap, no longer exists. What happened to it?|
The US Armed Forces blew it up during a hydrogen bomb test in 1952. As part of the US Operation Ivy, a huge hydrogen bomb called 'Ivy Mike' was detonated on Elugelab and vapourised the entire island. Elugelab was part of Enewetak Atoll, in the west of the Marshall Islands. The atoll has around forty islets left, with an area of just over two square miles, surrounding a lagoon just under 200 square miles. Elugelab was replaced by a seabed crater over a mile wide and 165 feet deep.
|Historically, the trade in copra has been important to the economy of the Marshall Islands. What is copra?|
Dried coconut meat. Once the meat of the coconut has been dried to make copra, it can be ground or pressed to yield coconut oil. The remaining pulpy mass can be used as a nutritious feed for animals, and is called copra meal or copra cake.
Copra is classed as "dangerous cargo" when in transit as it can spontaneously explode with great force when it is being transported in volume.
In 1893, Robert Louis Stevenson published a short story called "The Beach at Falesa" which featured the copra trade in Samoa.
|The Marshall Islands are very low lying, and are at risk of disappearing beneath the waves if global sea levels rise by a small amount. What is the mean height above sea level of the islands? |
7 feet. During a typhoon, waves can wash completely over some of the islands, causing severe damage. The highest point of all the Marshall Islands is just 33 feet above sea level, and is on Likiep Atoll in the Eastern Chain of islands.
|The Marshall Islands have two official languages - Marshallese is one, what is the other?|
English. The first westerner to visit the islands was the Spaniard Alonso de Salazar in the early 16th century. The islands are named for the English explorer John Marshall who went there in 1799. Having changed hands several times over the years, and being in the control of Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and the United States, the Republic of the Marshall Islands was 'born' on May 1st 1979.
|Although other species now live there, what is the only indigenous land mammal of the Marshall Islands?|
Polynesian rat. Aquatic mammals are plentiful in the seas around the islands, but the only indigenous land mammal is the Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans), also known as the kiore. The species spread throughout the South Pacific with the various waves of Polynesian settlers; the remains of the kiore have been used by scientists to track these waves during archaeological studies.
|Located 425 miles north of the capital, this atoll, less than 1.5 square miles in area, is the most northerly and most isolated of the Marshall Islands. It is also the driest with a semi-arid climate, and has different native vegetation to the other Marshall Islands; coconut palms cannot grow there as there is insufficient water. There is a large and varied population of marine life and sea birds, and hermit crabs and lizards are common.
Which island is this?|
Bokak Atoll. The reefs connecting the various islets of Bokak Atoll have just one gap giving access to the central lagoon, and this means that the water level in the lagoon is actually as much as three feet higher than the surrounding sea level. Waves constantly wash right over the low lying parts of the reef and into the lagoon.
Although the Japanese had a small military outpost on one of the islands of Bokak Atoll during World War II, it is uninhabited, and is likely to remain so due to the lack of resources and its isolated position.
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