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Majuro (the Marshall Islands)


 

Majuro (马朱罗,马绍尔群岛共和国首都), a 30-mile-long atoll(环状珊瑚岛、环礁), is the captial and main urban center of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Almost half the Marshall Islands' present population of around 60,000 live in Majuro. Along with administrative offices and tourist amenities, the city's attractions include a relatively pristine stretch of beach called Laura.

The atoll has 57 small islets(小岛), the largest of which are connected by a single 55 kilometre stretch of paved road, making Majuro appear to be one long, narrow island. Robert Louis Stevenson called the atoll the 'Pearl of the Pacific' when he visited in 1889, but it's a far less pristine Majuro that one sees today.

Majuro is the most Westernized(西化、欧化)of the Marshall Islands, but there's still a lot that can be learned about life in the islands from a visit. You can grasp what it's like to live on a ribbon of land so narrow that as often as not you can see the ocean on both sides. By visiting Laura Village, at the westernmost end (最西端)of the mainland, you can find a rural lifestyle somewhat similar to that of the outer islands. While there, make use of the islands' best beach and Majuro Peace Park, a memorial built by the Japanese and dedicated to those who died in the East Pacific during WWII.

Named for an 18th century British sea captain, the Marshall Islands consist of 29 atolls and five coral islands(珊瑚岛) that are equal to Washington, D.C., in terms of land area, yet scattered over 780,000 square miles of the Central Pacific Ocean. U.S. forces wrested control of the Marshall Islands from Japan toward the end of World War II, and subsequently conducted nuclear weapons tests on the Enewetak and Bikini atolls. The Kwajalein atoll still hosts a US ballistic missile(弹道导弹)test range.

The Marshall Islands economy is based on farming, fishing (especially tuna(金枪鱼) for sushi(寿司)), and tourism. Coconut products account for 90 percent of the nation's export volume.

Marshallese society has always been stratified(阶层分明), and despite increasing Westernization and the introduction of a moneyed economy(金钱经济), social status still comes as much from one's kinship(血统关系) as it does from one's own achievements. Chiefs continue to wield a great deal of authority over land ownership and usage.

Food cultivation on the islands has always been catch as catch can(千方百计,用尽一切办法). Fish and seafood provide the bulk of the nonvegetable dishes, with tuna a staple of the catch. On land, breadfruit, coconut, arrowroot, yams, taro and pumpkins are the traditional mealtime mainstays. With the increasing Westernization of the Pacific, North American junk food(垃圾食品、无营养食品)has been increasingly dominating more traditional staples; on the rise too are the related health problems of obesity, diabetes, high blood-pressure and alcoholism.

One craft once common in the Marshall Islands (but growing less so) is canoe building. The walap canoes of old could reach a length of 100ft (30m) and carry up to 40 people, with supplies for open-sea voyages that could last more than a month. The smaller and faster tipnol was used mainly for fishing inside the lagoons, while the korkor, a small outrigger sometimes fitted with a sail, was also used within the lagoons.

Marshallese and English are both official languages of the islands and are commonly spoken throughout the country. Indicative of islanders' general amicability, their traditional greeting, Yokwe yuk, means 'Love to you.'