The easternmost island group in Micronesia, consisting of two roughly parallel chains of coral-capped islets and atolls in the western Pacific. Totaling only 70 square miles, the principal atolls are Majuro, Jaluit and Kwajalein. Spain sold the Caroline Islands in 1898 to Germany, which renamed them the Marshall Islands and issued stamps for use there. The islands were seized by the Japanese during World War I and administered by them under a 1919 League of Nations mandate. Invaded and conquered by United States forces in World War II, the Marshall Islands were made part of the United Nations-mandated U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific in 1947. On May 1, 1981, the Marshall Islands received its own constitution, president and legislature. Stamps ascribed to the island appeared that October, but these originated privately in Japan. The Marshall Islands began issuing its own stamps in May 1984, although its mail continued to be handled by the U.S. Postal Service. The Marshall Islands became fully independent in 1991.