Daily Travel Photo – Majuro, Marshall Islands

Posted: February 19, 2009    Categories: Daily Photo

Bikini Atoll Town Hall, Majuro, Marshall Islands

Bikini Atoll Town Hall, Majuro, Marshall Islands

This photo will require some explaining…

The one part of the Marshall Islands which most people have heard of is the Bikini Atoll. Not only is it the namesake of the bikini swimsuit, it was also a location where the United States did above ground nuclear tests after World War II. It was the location of the first explosion of a hydrogen bomb.

Prior to blowing up nuclear weapons on the island, of course, they had to remove the residents of Bikini. After several moves, they ended up in what is now the capital of the Marshal Islands, Majuro. Under 200 people were moved off the atoll by the time testing began in 1948.

Those 200 people have become over 5,000 via marriage and children in the 63 years since, the majority of which have never seen Bikini. That is why the Bikini Town Hall is several hundred miles away from Bikini Atoll.

The American government has cleared the top 16 inches of soil off the island, created housing and other structures, yet only a small group have returned. The 5,000 descendants of the people moved off of Bikini still get money, health care, and housing from the US government and constitute a powerful constituency in the Marshal Islands.

The levels of radiation on the island are now at a safe level. The only restriction is that you can’t eat food grown on the island. The years of human absence from the island have created one of the best coral reefs in the world and Bikini is now an attraction for SCUBA divers.

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