Marshall Islands profile - Leaders

President: Hilda Heine

Image copyright Marshall Islands Dept of Education
Image caption Hilda Heine, the Marshall Islands first female president

Former education minister Hilda Heine made history in January 2016 by becoming the first female president of an independent Pacific island state.

She was elected to parliament at the November 2015 election in a group of independents that held the balance of power between the supporters of President Christopher Leoak and the opposition KEA party.Parliament first chose Carsten Nemra as president, but an opposition-independent alliance forced him out in a no-confidence vote, proposing Ms Heine instead.

The first Marshallese woman to earn a PhD, she has a background in education and a record of campaigning on women's and climate-change issues.