What is an Atoll?

An atoll is the final stage of volcanic island erosion. Coral reefs grow near sea level around the edges of ancient volcanoes. When volcanoes begin to sink, the coral reefs continue to grow upward. The volcanic peaks continue to sink and erode, until they are below sea level, leaving islets that have built up on the reef.

Image Source: http://www.kristiina.kaapeli.fi/log9.htm#atoll

The strongest winds in the Marshall Islands generally blow from the northeast. Marshall Islanders say they have two seasons:

1. Añōneañ - When the sun rises and sets toward the south, and the wind is strong and comes from the northeast.
2. Rak - When the sun rises and sets toward the north, and winds lighten and come from the south.

map source

More favorable agricultural conditions exist on the leeward (western) islets of the atolls, which are better protected from salt spray and waves. Unfortunately most of the large land areas are located on the windward (eastern) islets of the atolls (as illustrated above).

For a map of the Marshall Islands click here

For an illustrated description of the cultivation areas click here


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