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All about Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands - FORTH Cities Guide

marshall islands 23 May, 2021 13:52HRS


Atoll in Republic of the Marshall Islands

⦿ Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands was also once known as the Eschscholtz Atoll from 1800 to 1946.

⦿ Bikini Atoll is also referred to as Pikinni Atoll.

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL POPULATION -Population of Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands is approximately 6,000 people, with some 10 people living on the Bikini atoll as caretakers.

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL TIME ZONE -Time zone of Bikini, Marshall Islands is UTC/GMT +12 (MHT)

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL LOCATION -Bikini Atoll is located in Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean. SEE BIKINI ATOLL MAP

⦿ BIKINI AOLL COORDINATES -Lat/Long Location Coordinates of Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands are 11°35’N, 165°23′E SEE BIKINI ATOLL MAP BELOW

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL ELEVATION -Elevation of Bikini Atoll is only 2.1 meters above sea level.

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL CURRENCY -The United States Dollar (USD) is the Currency used in Bikini Atoll as the USD $ is the currency of Marshall Islands.

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL DIAL CODE -The Telephone Code/Dial code of Marshall Islands is +692

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL LANGUAGE -The main and Native language of Bikini Atoll is Marshallese. Marshallese language is the official Language in the Marshall Islands and belongs to the Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian family of languages. The English language is included with the Marshallese language as the Official Language in Marshall Islands.

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL CLIMATE -The Climate in Bikini Atoll is a tropical trade wind climate and has an average temperature of 27 °C that is 81 °F

⦿ BIKINI ATOLL RADIATION -The Radiation level on Bikini Atoll now is on average high as 639 mrem yr−1 that is 6.39 mSv/a. Which is high above the safety standard for habitation, thus Bikini Atoll is still radioactive; This is the reason why Bikini atoll is forbidden.


23 Stars in blue background = 23 Islands of the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

3 Black Stars on Right side = 3 Islands that were destroyed during Nuclear testing.2 Black Stars on Bottom Right = Kili Island and Ejit Island, where natives live now.

Text translation = Together in Distance and Standards of Living - Words of Juda (King of Bikini Atoll)


Bikini Atoll or Pikinni Atoll in Marshallese language means the coconut place, The Bikini Atoll is also known as Eschscholtz Atoll especially in the years from 1800 to 1946. The Bikini Atoll is in north side of Ralik Island Chain of Marshall Islands; It is 770 km (480 miles) NW of Majuro. Majuro is the capital of Marshall Islands. SEE BIKINI ATOLL MAP

In 1946, the native people living on Bikini Atoll/ Pikinni Atoll were moved to other locations as the U.S. Government was conducting 23 Nuclear weapons tests on Bikini atoll in an Operation codenamed Operation Crossroads and these atomic weapons tests continued till 1958.

In 1970s, some hundred people reinhabited the Bikini Atoll. But the Bikini Atoll was not safe and not habitable due to the Bikini Atoll Nuclear tests that were conducted by the U.S. Government in previous decades.

In the May of 1977, a team of researchers and scientists came across serious level of dangerous chemicals such as 90Sr Strontium-90 in the waters. When checked, the people who were living on the Bikini Atoll also had 137Cs Caesium-137 radioactive isotope present in their body.

In the Late years of 1970s and the beginning years of 1980s, the people who moved to live on Bikini atoll again after the nuclear tests were evacuated by authorities and relocated for their safety. The Bikini Atoll is still contaminated and hazardous for humans to live.

Now Bikini Atoll is visited by special divers, research teams including teams from Stanford, scientists and it also has fewer than 10 caretakers who visit this atoll frequently.


The Bikini Atoll is in north side of Ralik Island Chain of Marshall Islands; It is 770 km (480 miles) NW of Majuro. Majuro is the Capital of Marshall Islands.

Lat/Long Location Coordinates of Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands are 11°35’N, 165°23′E

Bikini Atoll has an Elevation of only 2.1 meters [6.8 Feet] above the low tide sea level, thus this place is at risk of getting drowned if the global sea levels rise due to global warming.

Currently Bikini Atoll has a total of 23 separate islands. Before it used to have 26 islands but three of them were destroyed completely in the Bikini Atoll Nuclear tests. These islands were the Aerokojlol, Namu and the Bokonijien. Before the Nuclear tests the islanders of Bikini were living mainly on the NE part of this atoll.

Bikini Atoll island are made up of coral ridges, reef, sand and limestone. Bikini Atoll’s Lagoon is 595 square kilometer in total area and is 200 feet deep at some spots.

There is an underwater cretaceous guyot tablemount known as the Wōdejebato 75 Km away in the NW of the Bikini Atoll which is connected to this atoll through a submarine ridge. Unlike the tablemount of Wodejebato, Pikinni Atoll rises above the ocean.



The United States of America started its first nuclear tests on Bikini atoll on July 1st 1946 and continued to test nuclear weapons on this atoll until July 22nd 1958. In this time, the Americans detonated 23 nuclear weapons on this island.

The U.S. designated a total of 7 Test sites on Bikini Atoll and detonated nuclear test devices on the coral reef of this atoll, submerged detonation under the water and aerial detonations in the air. The nuclear test detonations of the Bikini Atoll had an overall fission yield of 42.2 Megatons of TNT equivalent explosive energy.

The Nuclear tests started with Operation Crossroads, Operation Crossroads started on 1st July 1946 and officially ended on 25th July 1946. This Operation conducted the first detonations of nuclear weapons since the 1945 Nagasaki bombings by the United States of America.

As the America and its other Allied nations were engaged in the Nuclear arms race and Space race with the Soviet Union as part of the Cold War in the years of 1947 to 1991. Both superpowers were racing to build more technologically advanced and powerful Space systems and Nuclear weapons.

In the Air, A nuclear device named Able was dropped from a United States Air Force aircraft and it detonated 520 feet above the sea. The purpose of aerial detonation of Able nuclear bomb was to destroy a mock target fleet in the waters. The nuclear detonation of “Able” was done on 1st July 1946 and it was a 23 kt TJ nuclear device.

Under the water, A nuclear device named Baker was submerged through a barge and was detonated under the water. After its detonation a giant Wilson cloud was formed and it accomplished the objective by contaminating all of the targeted ships.

These Ships are still present under the blue waters of the Bikini Atoll and its Lagoon. There are 95 ships and vessels that include USS Carlisle, USS Apogon, USS Lamson, USS Anderson, USS Arkansas, IJN Nagato, USS Saratoga, SMS Prinz Eugen etc. These shipwrecks of Bikini Atoll are submerged in range of a nice 69 Feet below the waters to more than 200 Feet.

Some of the Divers can get special permissions and dive to explore the ship graveyard of Bikini Atoll.

Castle Bravo was first of the high yield dry fuel thermonuclear bombs and it was tested in Bikini Atoll’s nuclear test of 1954 as part of Operation Castle. It was way beyond expectation and caused a vast spread of radioactive matter. Castle Bravo detonation caused a nuclear fallout that spread its radioactive contaminants all the way to countries like Japan, Australia, India and Sri Lanka; it also spread minor nuclear materials to the United States, Europe and multiple other countries. Castle Bravo was detonated on 1st March 1954.

Castle Bravo was planned as a secret nuclear bomb test but after the miscalculations and its nuclear fallout, It became the world’s first nuclear disaster.

The main problem with Castle Bravo that caused this disaster was the miscalculation, as the researchers and scientists calculated the explosive yield of nuclear detonation to be between 4 or 8 Megaton but the Castle Bravo exceeded this and produced a yield of 15 Megaton.

The size of the explosion caused by Castle Bravo was beyond the imaginations and expectations of the U.S. Military and scientists, the explosion destroyed all of the instruments and devices which were placed to check and analyze Castle Bravo’s effectiveness.

The Incident of Castle Bravo prompted international calls to ban the atmospheric level testing of such dry lithium deuteride fueled thermonuclear bombs.

READ: How Humans have been utilizing the Atolls


February 1946, The U.S. Authorities requested the total of 167 people who were living on Bikini atoll to move from the island for some time and relocate elsewhere so the United States and start the Nuclear tests on the Bikini Atoll.

The Bikini Atoll was ruled by King Juda, who cooperated with the Americans and announced to his people: “Everything is in God’s hand and we will leave from here believing in same.” Thus, nine among the total of eleven native families of Bikini Atoll came to an agreement and decided to move to Rongerik Island. Rongerik Atoll was finalized as the new temporary home for the displaced native people of Bikini Atoll.

7th March 1946, the 53rd U.S. Naval Construction Battalion Seabees personnel helped the people of Bikini Atoll to disassemble the Community House, Church and few other structures and relocate to the Rongerik Island. The residents of Bikini Atoll were then transported to uninhabited Rongerik Island by U.S. Navy’s Landing Crafts lst 861 and 1108 as the part of Operation Crossroads.

Rongerik Atoll is some 200 KM East of Bikini Atoll. The natives of Bikini Atoll believed that they will soon return back to their homes as the American authorities ensured them that they will be able to return to their homes on Bikini Atoll once the nuclear tests were done. Personnel of 53rd U.S. Naval Construction Battalion Seabees, constructed towers with cameras and other instruments on Bikini Atoll well before the July 1946 Atomic tests.

The native residents of the Bikini Island were first relocated to a nearby Rongerik Atoll. Rongerik Atoll was not very habitable or sustaining because it could not provide or produce enough food and resources for the inhabitants. Soon the relocated people of Bikini Atoll began to starve by the lack of food and resources on the Rongerik Atoll. The islanders of Bikini Atoll also had traditional ancient beliefs that the Rongerik Island was haunted by Demonic Girls of Ujae Atoll.

Thus, the people decided to again relocate to nearby Kwajalein Atoll. As the both locations of Rongerik Atoll and Kwajalein Atoll were not completely suitable to live and sustain human life properly, the United States Government and Authorities continues to provide food and aid to the relocated people.

This was also not a permanent relocation for them as just after 6 months, they decided to live on Kili Island. Kili is a small island located in the Marshall Islands. The Area of Kili Island is only 81 Hectares. Kili Island is still home to decedents and families of the relocated people of the Bikini Atoll. Kili Island is 1/6 of the size of Bikini Atoll.

But the promises and assurances given by the American authorities and government at that time were broken, As the nuclear tests continued on Bikini Atoll and contaminated its soil, water, flora and fauna. This level of nuclear contamination made this island unsuitable for human inhabitation as farming, hunting, fishing or using its water were all severely hazardous.

In the 1970s, few people who used to live on the Bikini Atoll decided to return to their home and moved to Bikini Atoll again. The Bikini Island was still not safe or suitable for humans. Testing and Analysis showed that the island still was contaminated and there were hazardous levels of dangerous chemicals such as 90Sr Strontium-90 in the waters. When checked, the people who were living on the Bikini Atoll also had 137Cs Caesium-137 radioactive isotope present in their body.

In 2013, The U.S. Government created multiple trust funds to cover the medical treatment costs and multiple other expenses of the people who were affected by the Nuclear tests of Bikini Atoll. The United States Government also paid USD $500 to USD $600 to every individual each year. The U.S. also paid USD $125 Million to the descendant families of the Bikini Atolls islanders as a form of compensation of destruction which was directly caused by the American Nuclear test programs on the Bikini Atoll and as a result displaced those natives from their homes.


Radiation level on Bikini Atoll now is on average high as 639 mrem yr−1 that is 6.39 mSv/a. Which is high above the safety standard for habitation, thus Bikini Atoll is still radioactive. It was measured in 2016 through series of investigations and tests.

In 2017, Some scientists of the Stanford University also informed of the thriving marine life in the craters and lagoon of the Bikini Atoll. Many species of Fishes, marine life and corals of bikini atoll are now abnormal and strange due to the mutations caused by the nuclear contaminations of their habitats.


People of the Bikini Atoll wear traditionally nieded clothing that looks like mats. It is a traditional and popular attire in almost entire Marshall Islands. The people of Marshall Islands are very hospitable and they always feel happy to share, support or provide hospitality to fellow people and their distant relatives.

The Life on Bikini Atoll is majorly isolated from the outside worlds and is centered on basic activities such as farming for self-consumption, fishing, boating, boat making, sailing, learning skill of survival on island and sea and making Dress Mat (Jaki-ed, In, or Nieded).

Before the Nuclear tests and the relocation of the natives to Kili Island, the people of Bikini Island were governed locally by a King and Queen with royal system of ruling. And even Marshall Island’s Paramount Chief had very less control over the locals.

The people of the Bikini Island were skilled in sailing, navigating, fishing, boating and cultivating. They used to sail on the Double hulled boats called Pora. The skills of how to build a boat, how to sail and how to navigate in sea were critical to the natives as they had to sail from multiple islands and atolls of Marshall Islands.

The livelihood of people in the Bikini Atoll was based on regional society values, deep family relations and traditional beliefs. Every Atoll is ruled like a monarchy, they have a king ruler and queen. The monarchy is supported by a group of ranked chieftains, chiefs and people who are part or direct members of the ruling caste of that atoll.

In the 1914, the Japanese Troops occupied the Marshall Islands. Under the ruling of the Japanese on Marshall Islands, the people of these Atolls worked under the constant supervision of the Japanese Soldiers in the plantations of Copra (Dried Coconut Kernel). The Japanese were taking their part from the earnings through the sales made by the islanders.

Royalties and chiefs of the Atolls were making around USD $20 Thousand yearly, the workers who were working in the copra plantations were getting only what was left after the chiefs and the Japanese took their portions from the gains.


The women of the Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands generally wear a native traditional clothing called Muumuu. Muumuu or Mu’umu’u dress is made by cotton and is constructed to be loose in fit. It hands down to body from shoulders and are very comfortable for the weather of Marshall Islands and other tropical, hot and humid weathers.

The Muumuu covers most of the body similarly as shirt like robe. They also wear 2 traditional Mat (Jaki-ed, In, or Nieded) mats which are about 9 square foot each and are made by the process of weaving leaves of hibiscus plants and pandanus into a fabric and these mats are belted on the waist of women.

The men of the Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands wear fringed skirts that are approximately one feet in length. The quality of these fabrics is that they quickly dry even after getting completely wet in the ocean. Dresses that are revealing are not considered appropriate among the islanders of the Marshall Islands.Women generally do not share or talk about their personal health apart from within their families.

In 1857, The Christianity religion was introduced by the western Christian missionaries and they introduced dressing and attire standards for women as well as influenced the culture of the island.

The Wau dress which was introduced by these Christian missionaries was intended to reduce the revelation of skin, this dress had long sleeves, high neck, no cleavage and it was like a gown that is long and lose fitting. The Wau dress got its name from the Ohau Island located in the Hawaii as the missionary that introduced the Wau Dress came from Ohau, Hawaii in the late 19th century.

The women of the Bikini Atoll and Marshall Islands as well had mindset that enforced them not to show their ankles, cleavage, shoulders or thighs in public. It is believed that this was influenced through the introduction of Christianity in the Marshall Islands.


The primary wealth asset for the people of Bikini atoll is land ownership rights. People of Bikini Atoll who own lands become an important and high standards figure in the society; and people who don’t own land are viewed as low and person of lesser value. The land is always passed generations to generations and this passing of land to younger generations of the family is done by the mother.

Every family of the Bikini Island is member of clan called Bwij that owns all lands. Bwij clan owes their allegiance to Iroji, who are the chiefs. Iroji chiefs do the job of supervising heads of these clans who are called Alap and control tenure of lands, handle disputes or quarrels and usage of resources. The Alap oversee the daily chores and maintenance tasks of lands, Alap have direct support of Dri-jerbal (Dri-jerbal means Labour). The tasks of cleaning locations, constructions, maintenance, refurnishing, poultry management and cultivation are done be labors who are knows as Dri-jerbal.

The natives of Bikini Atoll are now highly dependent upon the trust funds created by the U.S. Government. This fund has elevated their lifestyle in comparison to other islanders of the Marshall Islands. The people of Bikini Atoll who get this fund from the United States are now extremely dependent on it and have lost their interests in traditional ways of income or traditional arts and skills.

Even after the native islanders of Bikini Islands resettled on the Kili Island they maintained dual system of land tenure.


As mentioned earlier, the people of Bikini Atoll live on Subsistence farming and grow crops such as coconuts, bananas, limes, pumpkins, pandanus, arrowroot, taro, breadfruit etc. The islanders also acquire food from the sea through fishing.

The natives of Bikini Atoll were professionals in fishing and were skilled in improvising or creating new techniques for fishing. The Islanders used coconut’s husk made fishing lines and fishing hooks that were made from carved and sharpened sea shells. As per studies the people of Bikini Atoll were skilled in and used around twenty four fishing techniques.The people of Bikini Atoll had poultry farms with chickens, pigs and breeds of ducks to eat as food. They also had pets.

When the Americans began the test of nuclear devices underwater, these atomic explosions created giant holes on the lagoon’s floor. Later these Bikini Atoll caters were filled up by the debris and earth that was scrambled out by the explosions. The atomic blasts shattered and threw off lots of mud and coral all across nearby islands and the Bikini Atoll’s lagoon.

The United States in the 1946 started use explosives to carve a channel in the shallow coral reef of the Bikini Atoll so they can have their large ships and vessels enter the lagoon of Bikini atoll and make arrangements for the nuclear testing.

In 2008 studies were conducted and it was found that the fauna aka. Animals of the Bikini atoll thrives in the lagoon, island and around the island of this atoll until the nuclear weapon tests. After the nuclear tests all species of animals on land, air and sea were almost completely dead. But now there are many thriving species on the Bikini Atoll and some of which are even mutated due to the nuclear contamination of their natural habitats and show odd characteristics.

The Bikini Atoll now has many species of crabs, fishes, sharks, corals and many other animals, some spotting of mutates sharks of this atoll claim that these sharks don’t have a second dorsal fin and it is due to the mutation caused by nuclear and radioactive contamination of Bikini Atoll. The biodiversity of Bikini Atoll has recovered more than 66% to the previous levels that were before the nuclear tests. Still even now Bikini Atoll has lost some 28 species of corals locally and they seem to have gone completely extinct from this atoll.


The Original Marshallese language name of this island was Pikinni, Pik means – Surface and Ni means – Coconut.

So it was translated as Surface or Land of the Coconuts. The current name “Bikini Atoll” came through the Germans, as Pikini Atoll used to be under the territories of German New Guinea and thus they named it Bikini.

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