The Marshall Islands comprises over a thousand flat coral islands of white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons. There's pristine diving and lush tropical greenery, and the Marshallese people retain many of their precolonial crafts and traditions, especially on the outer islands.
You can still watch outrigger canoes zipping around the lagoons, though these days you're as likely as not to find a VCR in that little grass shack and Coke replacing coconut milk as many islanders' drink of choice - the Marshall Islands, like most of the Pacific, is getting in the pop culture loop.
The flipside to the paradise picture is that many of the Marshallese still struggle with the after-effects of the 20th century's nastiest technology. Several of the islands - the Bikini Atoll in particular - served as testing sites for atomic bombs through the 1960s, and many of their inhabitants have suffered from radiation poisoning, while their home islands remain too contaminated to be resettled. And yet, despite these hardships, you'll find the Marshallese exceptionally welcoming and their culture and identity alive and well.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track