The Bikini atoll is a group of islands (an atoll) in the Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Ralik chain. Today, it is part of the Marshall Islands. It used to be known as Eschscholtz Atoll. The atoll is made of 23 islands, which have a surface area of 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). The lagoon is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) by 24 kilometres (15 mi), and has a surface area of about 600 square kilometres (230 sq mi). The lagoon has a depth of up to 60 metres (200 ft). The two biggest islands are Bikini, at 2.9 square kilometres (1.1 sq mi) and Enyu, at 1.23 square kilometres (0.47 sq mi).
Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, is about 850 kilometres (530 mi) to the south. New Guinea is about 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) to the southwest.
Nuclear tests[change | change source]
Today, the atoll is mostly known for many nuclear tests, done by the US government in the 1940s, and 1950s. In 1946, about 200 people were moved from these two islands, all other islands of the atoll were uninhabited. The people were moved to the smaller Rongerik Atoll, which was uninhabited at the time.
Over 42.000 people were taking part in the nuclear tests. In total, 67 tests were done.
In the 1970s, about 100 people again moved to the islands, but they had to leave again, because high levels of Strontium-90 and Caesium-137 were found. Today, the atoll is largely uninhabited, except for a few caretakers.
Problems with islanders returning[change | change source]
Even though the atoll may be habitable again soon, there's a problem: Many of the Bikini islanders (or their offspring) have never lived on the island, and haven't even visited it. There's a high unemployment rate on the Marshall islands. As the Marshall islands have a special agreement with the United States, unemployed people from the Marshall islands can go look for jobs in the United States. It is therefore unclear how many of the original islanders or their offspring will return to the atoll.