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Atoll, western Marshall Islands, central Pacific Ocean. It consists of a ring of 20 small coral islands. Administered by the U.S. from 1947 as part of a UN-sanctioned U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, it was used for U.S. nuclear-weapons testing in 1946–58. The 166 inhabitants were removed before the tests began and returned in 1969, but they were evacuated again in 1978 because of high radiation levels. Cleanup there continued, and in the late 1990s Bikini was again deemed safe for habitation. The atoll became part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 1979.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Bikini, visit Britannica.com.