Kwajalein and Likiep Atolls
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Of Copra Production & Compacts of Free Association
Kwajalein Atoll, one of 29 atolls & 5 major islands make up the Rep. of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The southernmost & largest island in the atoll is Kwajalein. Located in the W. Pacific Ocean, 2.1k miles SW of Hawai'i & 1.5k miles E.of Guam. The island hosts USAKA (US Army Kwajalein Atoll), "Ronnie" Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site. Islands in atolls are like pearls in a string, w/the reef connecting the islands. The reef & islands are the rim of ancient volcanoes. The lagoon of the atoll is the volcano: Kwaj Lagoon holds distinction as being the world's largest lagoon. Some 110 miles NE of Kwajalein is Likiep (an atoll of 65 islets, home to about 600 Marshallese). It's unique in the RMI in being the only series of islands & communities owned by Europeans for generations. W/the intent to develop a Copra (coconut) plantation, A. Capelle, a German, & J. deBrum, a Portuguese, acquired rights to the Atoll in 1876. (The reason Adolphe & Jose choose this atoll was because ships could sail right up to the beach & tie off on the coconut palms.) Through several generations, Capelles & deBrums developed the culture & community of the island of Likiep & its affiliated atoll islands, operating them as a company community. The islands prospered during the peak years of copra production & it's noted the idea of a compact of free association (effectively employed by the Marshallese w/the Army) may have initiated from the generations of egalitarian European example.
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