Brief history

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Regarding its history, there is not much information about the period before the arrival of Europeans, but it is believed that they were colonised by Micronesians in successive waves of migration. The first European to set foot on the Marshall Islands was the Spanish navigator Alonso de Salazar in 1526, but the contact with the islands was minimal until the end of the 18th century when the English landed, led by John Marshall (who gave his name to the islands) and Thomas Gilbert. 

In 1874, the international powers recognised Spanish sovereignty over the islands as part of the Spanish East Indies, but this did not prevent the German Empire from establishing a permanent trading base there and, in 1885, the Marshall Islands were declared a German protectorate. The German protectorate established a pact according to which the tribal chiefs remained in charge of the government of the islands. 

In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, the Japanese assumed the military control of the main atolls and this control was reinforced after the Treaty of Versailles, in which Germany lost all its colonies in the Pacific. During World War II, it was the location for some important battles between the armies of the United States and Japan. After the war, the United States, as the winning side, took charge of its administration. 

In 1947, the US government reached an agreement with the United Nations Security Council to administer the Marshall Islands as a Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Between 1946 and 1958, on some of the atolls that make up this corner of paradise, 67 nuclear tests took place which led the US Atomic Energy Commission to consider it the most radiation contaminated place on the planet.

Sailing_Canoe_and_Crew,_Jaliut_Lagoon,_Marshall_Islands_(1899-1900)"Marshall Group, Jaliut Lagoon, crew of sailing canoe in primitive costume" from http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/fish7612.htm

In 1979 the United States recognised the Constitution and the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and, in 1986, the Compact of Free Association came into force which granted full sovereignty to the Republic of the Marshall Islands. In terms of international law, the independence process was formally completed in 1990, when the UN officially ended the trusteeship status.