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Disturbing the creation of a spatial system – outside intervention and urbanization in the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Weber, Eberhard and Koto, Camari (2021) Disturbing the creation of a spatial system – outside intervention and urbanization in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. In: The Routledge Handbook of Small Towns. Routledge, London & New York. ISBN 9780367555900

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The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is made up of 24 inhabited atolls / coral islands. Another ten atolls / coral islands are uninhabited due to small size, lack of rain, or nuclear contamination. In total the country has around 2,000 individual islands and islets that are scattered over an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.1 million km2. In contrast, the land area of the country is a tiny 181 km2. Like many Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) the Marshall Islands are isolated from other countries and economic centers. Remoteness and the natural composition of the country, which consists of low-lying atolls and coral islands, add to spatial disparities and imbalances that contribute to the country’s inability to establish a well-functioning economy. The state sector, well fed by development assistance from the USA (and elsewhere), provides most employment. The country’s finances are heavily dependent on remittances received from Marshallese who have migrated. Before such background, it has been a challenge to establish a balanced, well working spatial system, in which small towns can provide positive development incentives. Since the Marshall Islands have been settled a bit more than 2,000 years ago, distinct changes to its spatial structure have happened. The paper looks at three crucial elements of these changes as they relate to the urban system of the country in the central Pacific Ocean. 1) Centrality of locations and disturbances to the spatial structure, 2) Distorted development of urban areas, which includes urban functionality and character, and 3) Socio-spatial differences and processes that led to polarization and socio-spatial differentiation /segregation. Major emphasis lies in the country’s recent history, dominated by nuclear testing of the USA (1946 - 58) and the installation of US military facilities for ballistic missiles testing. These processes have contributed to spatial imbalances producing severe challenges to the two urban centers.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Ocean and Natural Sciences (SAGEONS)
Depositing User: Eberhard Weber
Date Deposited: 03 May 2021 04:31
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2023 02:39

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