The Pacific archipelago was populated by emigrants from southeast Asia from around 2000 BC and first documented by Portuguese mariners in 1528. The islands owe their name to the English seafarer, John Marshall, who visited in 1788. They became part of the protectorate of German New Guinea in 1886 and administrative affairs were managed by private German and Australian interests. Japan seized control in 1914 and received a League of Nations mandate over the islands in 1919. The Marshall Islands were occupied by Allied forces in 1944 and became part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands on 18 July 1947 (administered by the USA). On 21 Oct. 1986 the islands gained independence. A Compact of Free Association with the USA that came into force at the time was extended by 20 years in May 2004.
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