Country Profile: Marshall Islands

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, based on research produced by the Library of Congress. Under the Marshall Islands' Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status. 

Country Background

The Marshall Islands is an island nation located in the North Pacific Ocean and Oceania. The nation consists of two archipelagic chains (of 29 atolls total) in Oceania and five single islands located in the North Pacific Ocean. The capital of the Marshall Islands is Majuro, which is an atoll of 64 islands. Governmental buildings are located on three fused islands: Djarrit, Uliga, and Delap. The official languages are Marshallese and English (which is widely spoken as a second language). The country's population in 2017 was approximately 74,539 people. The Marshall Islands is a predominantly Christian country, with about 98% of the population Christian. The 10 or so Muslims living there are Aḥmadī. 

The Marshall Islands was a territory of the United States for over 40 years. However, in 1979, the Marshall Islands became self governing and in 1986 under the Compact of Free Association, gained independence. The Marshall Islands is being compensated by the U.S. government for a series of nuclear tests that the U.S. military did on the nation's islands.

Constitution & Legal Structure

The Marshall Islands is referred to as a presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Although the Marshall Islands did not gain full independence until 1986, the current Constitution went into effect in 1979, as the nation had become self-governing. The Constitution has since been amended, most recently in 1995. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of the Marshall Islands is a mixed law system based off of U.S. and English common law, customary laws, and local statutes. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in the Marshall Islands. 

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in the Marshall Islands. 

Dominant School of Islamic Law

The Marshall Islands has no official school of Islamic law.

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide. The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].