History of the Marshall Islands


The Marshall Islands is a republic of 29 atolls and 5 coral islands.
The islands are one of the four main groups that make up Micronesia. The
nearest neighbor to the Marshalls are the Federated States of Micronesia.
They\'re only 26 populated islands in the Marshalls because a lot of the islands
are too small to support many people. There are two roughly parallel chains of
islands that make up the western Ralik group and the eastern Ratak group. Now
that you know what and where the Marshall Islands are I\'ll explain the history.
The very early people of the Marshalls had no written language so it is
very hard to predict what went on. The only early history has been handed down
from generation to generation in the form of songs, and we can also get some
facts from the folklore and legends. One thing that they do know is that
powerful chiefs ruled these large civilizations able to move such large stones
to build temples and cities. They must have been somewhat advanced because they
were able to build huge walls that were probably there to enclose a city. These
walls weighed many tons and were 20 ft. long, and even some walls they have
found to be 40 ft. high. Archaeologists are still puzzled of what kind of
machinery they had to move such large stones.
The real knowledge we know about the Marshall Islands history began in
the early sixteenth century. The sea going Europeans were trying to find
sources of the Spice Islands that were in very large demand in Europe. English,
Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese sea captains were all sailing around on their hunt
for riches. One of the first people we know of to definitely land on the
Marshall Islands during this time is Ferdinand Magellan. He landed in
Micronesia on his journey to circumnavigate the world. Forty years later in the
1560\'s after Magellan\'s voyage Spain claimed most all of the islands in
Micronesia. Spain wasn\'t really concerned about Micronesia because they were
busy building empires in South America, Central America, and Mexico. For the
most part Micronesia was under loose Spanish control for 300 years.
During those 300 years in 1788 Captain John Marshall named the Marshall
Islands. He was sailing between Australia and China on the boat the Scarborough
and sailed through the islands. Even though many Europeans had been in the
Marshalls previously he has been said to be one of the first people to
"discover" the islands.
In the nineteenth century the dried meat of the coconut called copra
became an important trade items for European powers. Since there was much money
in the copra trade Germany, Spain, and Great Britain started to argue over the
control of Micronesia. In 1885 Germany gained control of the Marshalls while
Spain kept control of the Carolines and the Marianas. In 1886 the English and
the Spanish were unhappy with Germany\'s claims, but the dispute was settled by
Pope Leo XIII in Rome. The Pope gave all right to trade with these islands to
Germany. Then shortly after that in 1898 the Spanish- American war caused Spain
to give the rest of Micronesia to Germany. This all changed though during W.W.I.
In 1914 Japan which was allied with the U.S. and its European Allies
took control of the Marshalls and all of Micronesia with naval ships. Then in
1920 the League of Nations gave Micronesia to Japan.
In 1935 against the agreement with the League of Nations Japan began to
fortify the islands. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations and secretly
began to build airfields and naval bases on the islands. Japan closed the
Marshalls and Micronesia from the rest of the world. To show just how secret
Japan was in 1937 Amelia Earhart was on her famous trip around the world in the
air. She disappeared somewhere in the Japan held Micronesia and has never been
seen since. Many people think that she was short of gas and made a forced
landing on one of the islands. Japan was then upset over what she may have seen
and executed her.
After the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941 the Marshall Islands became a
very important strategic location in W.W.II. The Japanese used the islands on
their push southward toward Australia, and the U.S. wanted the islands on their
push northward. The Marshall islands were the next step for the Allied march
toward the Japanese home islands. The Kwajalein and Majuro atolls were picked
as the two main places to invade. This operation was code named Flintlock. D-
Day was