"An island country in the central Pacific Ocean. Inhabited by Micronesian peoples, the islands were sighted by Spanish explorers in the early 1500s and were governed successively by Spain, Germany, and Japan before being captured in 1944 by the United States during World War II. In 1947 they became part of a US trust territory, during which time the United States carried out nuclear tests on Enewetak and Bikini atolls. The islands became self-governing in 1979 and attained independence in 1986. Majuro is the capital."
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
"After gaining military control of the Marshall Islands from Japan in 1944, the United States assumed administrative control of the Marshall Islands under United Nations auspices as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands following the end of World War II. The Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States in 1983 and gained independence in 1986 with the Compact's entry into force. From 1999-2003, the two countries negotiated an Amended Compact that entered into force in 2004.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is a sovereign nation. While the government is free to conduct its own foreign relations, it does so under the terms of the Compact. The United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands, and the Government of the Marshall Islands is obligated to refrain from taking actions that would be incompatible with these security and defense responsibilities. The United States and the Marshall Islands have full diplomatic relations. Marshallese citizens may work and study in the United States without a visa, and they join the U.S. military at a higher rate than any U.S. state."
Source: U.S. Department of State