Capital city: Majuro
Languages: Marshallese (official)
Population: Abt. 55,000
Area: 180 Sq km
GDP per capita: 3,169 in 2011
GDP current US$: 0 in 2011
Ease of Business Ranking: 101 in 2013
Marshall Islands is composed of 29 atolls. It attained its independence from the US in 1986 under a Compact Free Association. Under the compact, the US pays an annual rent to use the Kwajalein atoll as a base and missile test range. Marshall Islands is also at risk to rising sea levels.
Although there are no disclosed restrictions to foreign investment, and foreigners can in fact lease land for up to 50 years, land tenure poses as a problem for development in the country. Land ownership is based on ancestry therefore foreign investors who wish to lease land must negotiate directly to the customarily owners of the land.
Houses in the urban centers are simple wooden or cement-block structures, with corrugated iron roofs; because of the limited land availability, houses are heavily crowded. In the outer atolls houses are constructed of local materials, with thatched sloping roofs and sides of plaited palm fronds.
The Ministry of Social Services provides housing grants, principally to low-income families, through a low-cost housing program and a grant-in-aid program. Government housing is administered by the Public Service Commission.