The islands were settled thousands of years ago by Micronesian explorers who braved the ocean in large canoes.
The Marshallese learned to chart and navigate the currents between the islands, and to live in harmony with the rich and complex marine ecosystems of the region.
Despite being spread over a vast area, the Marshallese speak a common language, which stands testament to their sociability and oceanfaring skill. Decentralization has thus been part of the Marshallese way of life for centuries. Marshallese culture prizes cooperation, shared security and sustainable use of resources. These values are all reflected and epitomized in the design of the Marshallese sovereign.
Unfortunately, the Marshallese have not always been free to pursue these values. The Marshall Islands have been colonized many times throughout their history, first by Spain, then Germany, then Japan. During World War II, the United States took the Marshall Islands from the Japanese, and in the decades following administered the region as part of the Pacific Trust Territory.
After the war, the US used the Marshall Islands as a testing ground for nuclear weapons, conducting more than 60 tests over a 12-year period from 1946. The radiation released during these tests was the equivalent of dropping 1.6 Hiroshima-sized bombs every day for the entire test period.
These tests caused extreme disruption to the delicate marine ecosystem of the atolls. Today, the Marshallese experience some of the highest incidences for various cancers, but the country lacks the resources to treat or even diagnose many of these diseases, forcing citizens to travel thousands of miles to seek help abroad.
US military base on the Kwajalein Atoll
In 1979, the Republic of the Marshall Islands was formed as an independent democratic nation with an unusually transparent political process.
In the Marshallese legislature, the Nitijela, laws must be introduced three times before they can be passed, and a public hearing is always held, allowing any citizen to ask questions and express concerns.
On February 26, 2018, the Sovereign Currency Act passed the last step of this stringent process, securing the Marshallese sovereign’s place as the legal tender of the Marshall Islands.
The Marshall Islands are at the forefront of the global battle against climate change.
Ocean acidification is attacking the coral foundations of the atolls; warmer temperatures are affecting the ecology of their vast fishery; and droughts are growing increasingly severe.
Worst of all, the country has an average elevation above sea level of just 2 meters, meaning rising oceans will devastate them faster than any other nation in the world. Already, increased flooding from storm surge has demolished houses and sea walls, tainted the scant water supplies with saltwater, and even washed graves out to sea.
Despite bearing the brunt of the costs of new technology, in the form of nuclear fallout and rising sea levels, the Marshallese have reaped few of the benefits. This is set to change with SOV, as the Marshallese become pioneers in the field of digital money.
Current banking infrastructure is too cumbersome and expensive for the geographical and cultural realities of the Marshallese lifestyle. The Marshall Islands has relied on the US dollar as a currency, and many citizens are reliant on exorbitant remittances services, incurring transaction fees as high as 10%.
But with the advent of blockchain, the opportunity has arisen to create a new kind of money: one which is suited to the needs of the Marshallese and the whole world.
With the passing of the Sovereign Currency Act, the Marshall Islands has taken another important step on its journey towards complete sovereignty and independence.