A Brief History of the Marshall Islands as a Member of the Trust Territory
In the sixteenth century Spain laid claim to the Marshall Islands and later sold it to the Germans during the Spanish-American war in 1898. Japan captured the Marshall Islands from Germany during World War I and later lost it to the United States during World War II.
Under a 1947 Trusteeship Agreement with the United Nations, the United States administered the Marshall Islands and other Micronesian countries. Under the Trusteeship Agreement the United States assumed the obligation to foster the development of political institutions such as suited for member countries of the Trust Territory.
The United States was tasked with promoting the development of the inhabitants of the Trust Territory towards independence according to the wishes of the peoples concerned. A bicameral Congress of Micronesia was established in 1964 of which the Marshall Islands was a part.
Brief Overview of Political Development in the Republic of the Marshall Islands
In 1978 the Marshall Islands in a referendum broke away from the rest of Micronesia and opted for a separate Constitution. In 1979 its Constitution was ratified. The country gained independence and signed a compact of free association with the United States in 1986.
The 1979 constitution provides for a unicameral parliamentary system. However, the President is elected by members of the Nitijela (parliament), and serves as the head of government as well as the head of state. A consultative upper house for traditional leaders known as the Council of Irooj Advises on customary issues.