The Marshall Islands, officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands (Marshallese: Aolepān Aorōkin M̧ajeļ),[note 1] is an island country located in the northern Pacific Ocean. Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia, with the population of 68,480 people spread out over 24 low-lying coral atolls, comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets. The islands share maritime boundaries with the Federated States of Micronesia to the west, Wake Island to the north,[note 2] Kiribati to the south-east, and Nauru to the south. The most populous atoll is Majuro, which also acts as the capital.
Micronesian colonists gradually settled the Marshall Islands during the 2nd millennium BC, with inter-island navigation made possible using traditional stick charts. Islands in the archipelago were first explored by Europeans in the 1520s, with Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar sighting an atoll in August 1526. Other expeditions by Spanish and English ships followed, with the islands' current name stemming from British explorer John Marshall (1788).
The islands are located north of Nauru and Kiribati, east of the Federated States of Micronesia, and south of the U.S. territory of Wake Island, to which it lays claim.
The climate is hot and humid, with a wet season from May to November. Many Pacific typhoons begin as tropical storms in the Marshall Islands region, and grow stronger as they move west toward the Mariana Islands and the Philippines.
The Marshall Islands are served by the Marshall Islands International Airport in Majuro, the Bucholz Army Airfield in Kwajalein, and other small airports and airstrips.
In 2005, Aloha Airlines canceled its flight services to the Marshall Islands.