Northern Mariana Islands

Last updated

Coordinates: 15°11′22″N145°44′39″E / 15.189466°N 145.744256°E / 15.189466; 145.744256

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

Contents

Northern Mariana Islands
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas  (Chamorro)
Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas  (Carolinian)
Anthem: "Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi" (Chamorro)
"Satil Matawal Pacifiko" (Carolinian)
(English: "In the Middle of the Sea")
Northern Mariana Islands on the globe (Southeast Asia centered) (small islands magnified).svg
Location of the Northern Mariana Islands (circled in red)
Sovereign state United States
Before union with U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
Status referendum June 17, 1975
Admission as territoryNovember 4, 1986
Capital
and largest city
Saipan
15°11′22″N145°44′39″E / 15.189466°N 145.744256°E / 15.189466; 145.744256
Official languages
Ethnic groups
(2010)
35.3% Filipino
23.9% Chamorro
12.7% Multiracial
6.8% Chinese
5.3% Japanese
4.6% Carolinian
4.2% Korean
2.3% Chuukese
2.2% Palauan
2.1% White
0.6% other and native tribes [1]
Demonym(s) Northern Mariana Islander (formal)
Mariana (diminutive form)
Chamorro (colloquial) [2]
Government Devolved presidential constitutional dependency
  Governor
Ralph Torres (R)
Arnold Palacios (R)
Gregorio Sablan (I)
Legislature Commonwealth Legislature
Senate
House of Representatives
Area
 Total
464 km2 (179 sq mi)
 Water (%)
negligible
Highest elevation
3,166 ft (965 m)
Population
 2017 estimate
55,144
 2010 census
53,833
 Density
113/km2 (292.7/sq mi)
GDP  (PPP)2013 estimate
 Total
$682 million [3]
 Per capita
$13,300 [3]
Currency United States dollar (US$) (USD)
Time zone UTC+10:00 (ChST)
Date formatmm/dd/yyyy
Driving side right
Calling code +1-670
USPS abbreviation
MP
Trad. abbreviation
CNMI
ISO 3166 code
Internet TLD .mp
Saipan seen from the International Space Station Saipan from ISS 2.png
Saipan seen from the International Space Station

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; Chamorro : Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; Refaluwasch or Carolinian: Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas; formerly in Spanish: Islas Marianas del Norte, in German: Nördliche Marianen, and in Japanese : 北マリアナ諸島), is an insular area and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 14 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. [4] The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago except the southernmost island of the chain, Guam, which is a separate U.S. territory. The CNMI and Guam are the westernmost territories of the United States.

Chamorro language Malayo-Polynesian (Austronesian) language, spoken on the Mariana Islands

Chamorro is an Austronesian language spoken by about 58,000 people. It is the native and spoken language of the Chamorro people, who are the indigenous people of the Marianas.

Carolinian is an Austronesian language originating in the Caroline Islands, but spoken in the Northern Mariana Islands. It is an official language of the Carolinian people. Carolinian is a threatened language according to the Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat), but available data is scarce. There are approximately 3,100 native speakers in the world. Carolinian has 95% lexical similarity with Satawalese, 88% with Woleaian and Puluwatese; 81% with Mortlockese; 78% with Chuukese, 74% with Ulithian.

Spanish, or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 480 million native speakers in Spain, the Americas and a small part of Africa. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

The United States Department of the Interior cites a landmass of 183.5 square miles (475.26 km2). [5] According to the 2010 United States Census, 53,883 people were living in the CNMI at that time. [6] The vast majority of the population resides on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The other islands of the Northern Marianas are sparsely inhabited; the most notable among these is Pågan, which for various reasons over the centuries has experienced major population flux, but formerly had residents numbering in the thousands. [7] [8]

United States Department of the Interior Cabinet level department of the United States federal government

The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is a federal executive department of the U.S. government. It is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal lands and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, territorial affairs, and insular areas of the United States. About 75% of federal public land is managed by the department, with most of the remainder managed by the United States Department of Agriculture's United States Forest Service.

2010 United States Census 23rd national census of the United States, taken in 2010

The 2010 United States Census is the twenty-third and most recent United States national census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2010. The census was taken via mail-in citizen self-reporting, with enumerators serving to spot-check randomly selected neighborhoods and communities. As part of a drive to increase the count's accuracy, 635,000 temporary enumerators were hired. The population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538, a 9.7% increase from the 2000 Census. This was the first census in which all states recorded a population of over half a million people as well as the first in which all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 200,000.

Saipan American island in the Mariana Islands

Saipan is the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. According to 2017 estimates by the United States Census Bureau, Saipan's population was 52,263.

The administrative center is Capitol Hill, a village in northwestern Saipan. However, most publications consider Saipan to be the capital because the island is governed as a single municipality.

Capitol Hill, Saipan Settlement in Northern Mariana Islands

Capitol Hill is a settlement on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. It has a population of just over 1,000. Capitol Hill has been the territory's seat of government since 1962. It lies on the cross-island road between Tanapag and San Vicente.

History

Arrival of humans

Ladrones - Hunter from Marianas -Boxer Codex (1590).jpg
Chamorro Hunter with Spear, as depicted in the Boxer Codex (1590) of the Philippines
Hunter from Marianas 2 - Boxer Codex (1590).jpg
Chamorro Hunter with Bow, as depicted in the Boxer Codex (1590) of the Philippines

The first people to reach the Mariana Islands arrived at some point between 4000 BC and 2000 BC from Southeast Asia. After first contact with Spaniards, they eventually became known as the Chamorros, a Spanish word similar to Chamori, the name of the indigenous caste system's higher division.

Southeast Asia Subregion of Asia

Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions that are geographically south of China, east of India and Bangladesh, north of Australia, and west of New Guinea. The region is the only part of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere, although the majority of it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:

  1. Mainland Southeast Asia, also known historically as Indochina, comprising Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
  2. Maritime Southeast Asia, also known historically as Nusantara, the East Indies, or the Malay Archipelago, comprising the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Indonesia, East Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Chamorro people ethnic group

The Chamorro people are the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, politically divided between the United States territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Micronesia. Today, significant Chamorro populations also exist in several U.S. states including Hawaii, California, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, Oregon, and Nevada. According to the 2000 Census, approximately 65,000 people of Chamorro ancestry live in Guam and another 19,000 live in the Northern Marianas. Another 93,000 live outside the Marianas in Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. The Chamorros are primarily Austronesian, but many also have European (Spanish) and East Asian ancestry.

The ancient people of the Marianas raised colonnades of megalithic capped pillars called latte stones upon which they built their homes. The Spanish reported that by the time of their arrival, the largest of these were already in ruins, and that the Chamorros believed the ancestors who had erected the pillars lived in an era when people possessed supernatural abilities.

Latte stone

A latte stone, or simply latte, is a pillar capped by a hemispherical stone capital (tasa) with the flat side facing up. Used as building supports by the ancient Chamorro people, they are found throughout most of the Mariana Islands. In modern times, the latte stone is seen as a sign of Chamorro identity and is used in many different contexts.

In 2013 archaeologists posited that the first people to settle in the Marianas may have made what was at that point the longest uninterrupted ocean-crossing voyage in human history. Archeological evidence indicates that Tinian may have been the first Pacific island to be settled. [9]

Spanish possession

Reception of the Manila Galleon by the Chamorro in the Ladrones Islands, ca. 1590 Boxer Codex Reception of the Manila Galleon by the Chamorro in the Ladrones Islands, ca. 1590.jpg
Reception of the Manila Galleon by the Chamorro in the Ladrones Islands, ca. 1590 Boxer Codex
Colonial tower, a vestige of the former Spanish colony Old Spanish Church Tower.JPG
Colonial tower, a vestige of the former Spanish colony

The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, sailing under the Spanish flag, arrived in 1521. He and his crew were the first Europeans to arrive in the Mariana Islands. He landed on Guam, the southernmost island of the Marianas, and claimed the archipelago for Spain. The Spanish ships were met offshore by the native Chamorros, who delivered refreshments and then helped themselves to a small boat belonging to Magellan's fleet. This led to a cultural clash: in Chamorro tradition, little property was private and taking something one needed, such as a boat for fishing, did not count as stealing. The Spanish did not understand this custom, and fought the Chamorros until the boat was recovered. Three days after he had been welcomed on his arrival, Magellan fled the archipelago. Spain regarded the islands as annexed and later made them part of the Spanish East Indies in 1565. In 1734, the Spanish built a royal palace, the Plaza de España (Hagåtña), in Guam for the governor of the islands. Although the palace was largely destroyed during World War II portions of it remain.

Guam operated as an important stopover between Manila and Mexico for galleons carrying gold between the Philippines and Spain.

In 1668, Father Diego Luis de San Vitores renamed the islands Las Marianas in honor of his patroness the Spanish regent Mariana of Austria (1634–1696), widow of Felipe IV (reigned 1621–1655).

Most of the islands' native population (90–95%) [10] died from European diseases carried by the Spaniards or married non-Chamorro settlers under Spanish rule. New settlers, primarily from the Philippines and the Caroline Islands, were brought[ by whom? ] to repopulate the islands. The Chamorro population gradually recovered, and Chamorro, Filipino, and Refaluwasch languages and other ethnic differences remain in the Marianas.

During the 17th century, Spanish colonists forcibly moved the Chamorros to Guam, to encourage assimilation and conversion to Roman Catholicism. By the time they were allowed to return to the Northern Marianas, many Carolinians from present-day eastern Yap State and western Chuuk State had settled in the Marianas.[ citation needed ] Both languages, as well as English, are now official in the commonwealth.

Carolinian immigration

The Northern Marianas experienced an influx of immigration from the Carolines during the 19th century. Both this Carolinian subethnicity and Carolinians in the Carolines archipelago refer to themselves as the Refaluwasch. The indigenous Chamoru word for the same group of people is gu'palao. They are usually referred to simply as "Carolinians", though unlike the other two monikers, this can also mean those who actually live in the Carolines and who may have no affiliation with the Marianas.

The conquering Spanish did not focus attempts at cultural suppression against Carolinian immigrants, whose immigration they allowed during a period when the indigenous Chamoru majority was being subjugated with land alienation, forced relocations and internment. Carolinians in the Marianas continue to be fluent in the Carolinian language, and have maintained many of the cultural distinctions and traditions of their ethnicity's land of ancestral origin. [11] [ need quotation to verify ]

German possession and Japanese LON mandate

Saipan under the administration of Japan Korean Cafe in Saipan.JPG
Saipan under the administration of Japan

Following its loss during the Spanish–American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the United States and sold the remainder of the Marianas (i.e., the Northern Marianas), along with the Caroline Islands, to Germany under the German–Spanish Treaty of 1899. Germany administered the islands as part of its colony of German New Guinea and did little in terms of development.

Early in World War I, Japan declared war on Germany and invaded the Northern Marianas. In 1919, the League of Nations awarded all of Germany's islands in the Pacific Ocean located north of the Equator, including the Northern Marianas, under mandate to Japan. Under this arrangement, the Japanese thus administered the Northern Marianas as part of the South Pacific Mandate. During the Japanese period, sugar cane became the main industry of the islands. Garapan on Saipan was developed as a regional capital, and numerous Japanese (including ethnic Koreans, Okinawan, and Taiwanese) migrated to the islands. In the December 1939 census, the total population of the South Pacific Mandate was 129,104, of whom 77,257 were Japanese (including ethnic Taiwanese and Koreans). On Saipan the pre-war population comprised 29,348 Japanese settlers and 3,926 Chamorro and Caroline Islanders; Tinian had 15,700 Japanese settlers (including 2,700 ethnic Koreans and 22 ethnic Chamorro).

World War II

On December 8, 1941, hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces from the Marianas launched an invasion of Guam. Chamorros from the Northern Marianas, which had been under Japanese rule for more than 20 years, were brought to Guam to assist the Japanese administration. This, combined with the harsh treatment of Guamanian Chamorros during the 31-month occupation, created a rift that would become the main reason Guamanians rejected the reunification referendum approved by the Northern Marianas in the 1960s.

Marine infantrymen in Garapan, Saipan Marine infantrymen on Saipan.jpg
Marine infantrymen in Garapan, Saipan

On June 15, 1944, the United States military invaded the Mariana Islands, starting the Battle of Saipan, which ended on July 9. Of the 30,000 Japanese troops defending Saipan, fewer than 1,000 remained alive at the battle's end. [12] Many Japanese civilians were also killed, by disease, starvation, enemy fire, and suicide. Approximately 1,000 civilians committed suicide by jumping off the cliffs at Mt. Marpi or Marpi Point. [13] U.S. forces then recaptured Guam on July 21, and invaded Tinian on July 24. A year later Tinian was the takeoff point for the Enola Gay , the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Rota was left untouched (and isolated) until the Japanese surrender in August 1945, owing to its military insignificance.

The war did not end for everyone with the signing of the armistice. The last group of Japanese holdouts surrendered on Saipan on December 1, 1945. On Guam, Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi, unaware that the war had ended, hid in a jungle cave in the Talofofo area until 1972.

Japanese nationals were eventually repatriated to the Japanese home islands.

United States Possession (UN trusteeship)

The island of Saipan Saipan.jpg
The island of Saipan

After Japan's defeat in World War II, the Northern Marianas were administered by the United States pursuant to Security Council Resolution 21 as part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, which gave responsibility for defense and foreign affairs to the United States. [14] Four referenda offering integration with Guam or changes to the islands' status were held in 1958, 1961, 1963 and 1969. On each occasion, a majority voted in favor of integration with Guam, but this did not happen: Guam rejected integration in a 1969 referendum. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence, but instead to forge closer links with the United States. Negotiations for commonwealth status began in 1972 and a covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the United States [15] was approved in a 1975 referendum. A new government and constitution partially came into effect in on January 9, 1978 after being approved in a 1977 referendum. [16] The United Nations approved this arrangement pursuant to Security Council Resolution 683. The Northern Mariana Islands came under U.S. sovereignty on November 4, 1986. [17] Also on November 4, 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands constitution became fully effective under the covenent agreement. [16]

The Northern Mariana Islands does not have voting representation in the United States Congress, but, since 2009, has been represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a delegate who may participate in debate but may not vote on the floor. The commonwealth has no representation in the U.S. Senate. [18]

Geography

Anatahan Anatahan aerial.jpg
Anatahan
Map of the Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands map.gif
Map of the Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, together with Guam to the south, compose the Mariana Islands archipelago. The southern islands are limestone, with level terraces and fringing coral reefs. The northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on several islands, including Anatahan, Pagan, and Agrihan. The volcano on Agrihan has the highest elevation at 3,166 feet (965 m). [19] An expedition organized by John D. Mitchler and Reid Larson made the first complete ascent to the summit of this peak on June 1, 2018. [20]

Anatahan Volcano is a small volcanic island 80 miles (130 km) north of Saipan. It is about 6 miles (10 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide. Anatahan began erupting from its east crater on May 10, 2003. It has since alternated between eruptive and calm periods. [19] On April 6, 2005, an estimated 50,000,000 cubic feet (1,416,000 m3) of ash and rock were ejected, causing a large, black cloud to drift south over Saipan and Tinian. [21]

Climate

The Northern Mariana Islands have a tropical rainforest climate moderated by seasonal northeast trade winds, with little seasonal temperature variation. The dry season runs from December to June; the rainy season runs from July to November and can include typhoons. The Guinness Book of World Records has said Saipan has the most equable climate in the world. [22]

Climate data for Saipan
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °F (°C)87
(31)
89
(32)
86
(30)
87
(31)
90
(32)
89
(32)
89
(32)
89
(32)
90
(32)
88
(31)
87
(31)
88
(31)
90
(32)
Average high °F (°C)81.2
(27.3)
79.7
(26.5)
79.8
(26.6)
83.1
(28.4)
84.4
(29.1)
85.0
(29.4)
84.1
(28.9)
84.0
(28.9)
83.8
(28.8)
83.7
(28.7)
83.3
(28.5)
81.4
(27.4)
82.8
(28.2)
Daily mean °F (°C)77.3
(25.2)
76.3
(24.6)
76.4
(24.7)
78.5
(25.8)
79.9
(26.6)
80.2
(26.8)
79.6
(26.4)
79.6
(26.4)
79.4
(26.3)
79.3
(26.3)
79.1
(26.2)
77.8
(25.4)
78.6
(25.9)
Average low °F (°C)73.4
(23.0)
72.9
(22.7)
73.1
(22.8)
73.9
(23.3)
75.5
(24.2)
75.3
(24.1)
75.1
(23.9)
75.2
(24.0)
75.0
(23.9)
74.9
(23.8)
75.0
(23.9)
74.1
(23.4)
74.5
(23.6)
Record low °F (°C)68
(20)
67
(19)
64
(18)
63
(17)
66
(19)
70
(21)
64
(18)
67
(19)
67
(19)
67
(19)
68
(20)
68
(20)
63
(17)
Average rainfall inches (mm)3.84
(98)
4.42
(112)
2.40
(61)
5.03
(128)
3.80
(97)
5.04
(128)
10.16
(258)
12.42
(315)
11.65
(296)
10.99
(279)
7.76
(197)
5.88
(149)
83.39
(2,118)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 inch)181615171820242423252119240
Source: [23]

Politics and government

Ralph Torres, the governor of the Northern Mariana Islands Ralph Torres.jpg
Ralph Torres, the governor of the Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands have a multiparty presidential representative democratic system. They are a commonwealth of the United States. Federal funds to the commonwealth are administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Replicating the separation of powers elsewhere in the United States, the executive branch is headed by the governor of the Northern Mariana Islands; legislative power is vested in the bicameral Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature and the judicial power is vested in the CNMI Supreme Court and the trial courts inferior to it.

Some critics, including the author of the political website Saipan Sucks , say that politics in the Northern Mariana Islands is often "more a function of family relationships and personal loyalties" where the size of one's extended family is more important than a candidate's personal qualifications. They charge that this is nepotism carried out within the trappings of democracy. [24] [25]

In April 2012, anticipating a loss of funding by 2014, the commonwealth's public pension fund declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. [26] The retirement fund is a defined benefit-type pension plan and was only partially funded by the government, with only $268.4 million in assets and $911 million in liabilities. The plan experienced low investment returns and a benefit structure that had been increased without raises in funding. [27]

In August 2012, cries for impeachment [28] arose, as the sitting governor Benigno Fitial was being held responsible for withholding payments from the pension fund, [29] not paying the local utility (Commonwealth Utilities or "CUC") for government offices, [30] cutting off funding to the only hospital in the Northern Marianas, [31] [32] interfering with the delivery of a subpoena to his attorney general, [33] withholding required funds from the public schools, [34] [35] and for signing a sole source $190 million contract for power generation. [36] [37]

Northern Mariana Islands’ delegation to the 2016 Republican National Convention boasted about being “the most Republican territory” in the U.S. [38] As of 2017, the Republican Party had large majorities in both the Northern Mariana Islands Senate and the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives.

Administrative divisions

The islands total 179.01 square miles (463.63 km2). The table gives an overview, with the individual islands from north to south:

No.IslandAreaPopulation
(2010
census)
HeightHighest peakLocation
sq mikm2feetm
Northern Islands (Northern Islands Municipality)
1 Farallon de Pajaros (Urracas)0.9852.551,047319 20°33′N144°54′E / 20.550°N 144.900°E / 20.550; 144.900 (Farallon de Pajaros)
2 Maug Islands 0.8222.13745227(North Island) 20°02′N145°19′E / 20.033°N 145.317°E / 20.033; 145.317 (Maug Islands)
3 Asuncion 2.8227.312,923891 19°43′N145°41′E / 19.717°N 145.683°E / 19.717; 145.683 (Asuncion)
4 Agrihan (Agrigan) [n 1] 16.8043.513,166965Mount Agrihan 18°46′N145°40′E / 18.767°N 145.667°E / 18.767; 145.667 (Agrihan)
5 Pagan [n 2] 18.2447.241,900579Mount Pagan 18°08′36″N145°47′39″E / 18.14333°N 145.79417°E / 18.14333; 145.79417 (Pagan)
6 Alamagan 4.2911.112,441744Alamagan 17°35′N145°50′E / 17.583°N 145.833°E / 17.583; 145.833 (Alamagan)
7 Guguan 1.4943.87988301 17°20′N145°51′E / 17.333°N 145.850°E / 17.333; 145.850 (Guguan)
8 Zealandia Bank >0.0>0.0>0>0 16°45′N145°42′E / 16.750°N 145.700°E / 16.750; 145.700
9 Sarigan [n 3] 1.924.971,801549 16°43′N145°47′E / 16.717°N 145.783°E / 16.717; 145.783 (Sarigan)
10 Anatahan [n 1] 12.0531.212,582787 16°22′N145°40′E / 16.367°N 145.667°E / 16.367; 145.667 (Anatahan)
11 Farallon de Medinilla 0.3280.8526681 16°01′N146°04′E / 16.017°N 146.067°E / 16.017; 146.067 (Farallon de Medinilla)
Southern Islands (3 municipalities)
12 Saipan 44.55115.3848,2201,555474Mount Tapochau 15°11′06″N145°44′28″E / 15.18500°N 145.74111°E / 15.18500; 145.74111 (Saipan)
13 Tinian 39.00101.013,136558170Kastiyu (Lasso Hill) 14°57′12″N145°38′54″E / 14.95333°N 145.64833°E / 14.95333; 145.64833 (Tinian)
14 Aguijan (Agiguan) [n 4] 2.747.10515157Alutom 14°42′N145°18′E / 14.700°N 145.300°E / 14.700; 145.300 (Aguijan)
15 Rota 32.9785.392,5271,611491Mt. Manira 14°08′37″N145°11′08″E / 14.14361°N 145.18556°E / 14.14361; 145.18556 (Rota)
Northern Mariana Islands179.01463.6353,8833,166965Mount Agrihan14°08' to 20°33'N,
144°54° to 146°04'E
Notes
  1. 1 2 evacuated 1990 due to volcanic eruptions
  2. evacuated 1981 due to volcanic eruptions
  3. formerly inhabited (population of 21 in 1935, but only 2 in 1968)
  4. part of Tinian Municipality

Administratively, the CNMI is divided into four municipalities:

The Northern Islands (north of Saipan) form the Northern Islands Municipality. The three main islands of the Southern Islands form the municipalities of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, with uninhabited Aguijan forming part of Tinian municipality.

Because of volcanic threat, the northern islands have been evacuated. Human habitation was limited to Agrihan, Pagan, and Alamagan, but population varied due to various economic factors, including children's education. The 2010 census showed no residents in Northern Islands municipality and the Northern Islands' mayor office is located in "exile" on Saipan.

Saipan, Tinian, and Rota have the only ports and harbors, and are the only permanently populated islands.

For statistical purposes, the United States Census Bureau counts the four municipalities of the Northern Mariana Islands as county equivalents. [39]

Political status

In 1947, the Northern Mariana Islands became part of the post–World War II United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI). The United States became the TTPI's administering authority under the terms of a trusteeship agreement. In 1976, Congress approved the mutually negotiated Covenant to establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America. The Covenant was codified on March 24, 1976 as Public Law 94-241. [40] The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) government adopted its own constitution in 1977, and the new government took office in January 1978. Implementation of Covenant, which took effect on January 1, 1978, was completed on November 3, 1986, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation no. 5564; which placed into effect the Covenant With the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Compacts of Free Association With the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands [41] This allowed the CNMI to be represented to the United States Government in Washington, DC by a Resident Representative, elected at-large by CNMI voters and whose office was paid for by the CNMI government. The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 ("CNRA"), approved by the U.S. Congress on May 8, 2008, established a CNMI delegate's seat; Democrat Gregorio Sablan was elected in November 2008 as the first CNMI delegate and took office in the 111th Congress. Like the other five delegates, he can participate in debates and vote in committee but has no vote on the floor of the House of Representatives; and has no role in the U.S. Senate, but is equal to a Senator when he serves on a conference committee.

On December 22, 1990, the United Nations Trusteeship Council terminated the TTPI as it applied to the CNMI and five other of the TTPI's original seven districts (the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap)), this was acknowledged in United Nations Security Council Resolution 683 passed on the same day.

TTPI High Court judges TTPI High Court judges.jpg
TTPI High Court judges

Under the Covenant, in general, United States federal law applies to CNMI. However, the CNMI is outside the customs territory of the United States and, although the internal revenue code does apply in the form of a local income tax, the income tax system is largely locally determined. According to the Covenant, the federal minimum wage and federal immigration laws "will not apply to the Northern Mariana Islands except in the manner and to the extent made applicable to them by the Congress by law after termination of the Trusteeship Agreement." [42] The local control of minimum wage was superseded by the United States Congress in 2007.

Initially under the Covenant a separate immigration system existed in the CNMI, and U.S. immigration laws did not apply. But on November 28, 2009 the CNRA unilaterally amended the Covenant to match US law; specifically, CNRA § 702(a) amended the Covenant to state that "the provisions of the 'immigration laws' (as defined in section 101(a)(17) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(17))) shall apply to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands." Further, under CNRA § 702(a), the "immigration laws," as well as the amendments to the Covenant, "shall...supersede and replace all laws, provisions, or programs of the Commonwealth relating to the admission of aliens and the removal of aliens from the Commonwealth." [43] Transition to U.S. immigration laws began November 28, 2009. [44] [45]

The CNMI has a United States territorial court which exercises jurisdiction over the District of the Northern Mariana Islands (DNMI), which is coterminous with the CNMI. The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands was established by act of Congress in 1977, and began operations in January 1978. The court sits on the island of Saipan, but may sit other places within the commonwealth. The district court has the same jurisdiction as all other United States district courts, including diversity jurisdiction and bankruptcy jurisdiction. Appeals are taken to the Ninth Circuit.

Citizenship

Article III of the Covenant conferred United States citizenship on legally qualified CNMI residents, which generally included all citizens of the CNMI, and established U.S. birthright citizenship for persons born in the CNMI. [40]

Economy

Pagan Island Pagan Island, Northern Marianas.jpg
Pagan Island

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands benefits from its trading relationship with the federal government of the United States and cheap trained labor from Asia. Historically, the CNMI's economy has relied on tourism, mostly from Japan, and on the garment manufacturing sector. The economy has declined since quotas were lifted in 2005, eventually leading all the garment factories on Saipan to close by February 2009. Tourism also declined after 2005 when Japan Airlines stopped serving the Marianas. [46]

The Northern Mariana Islands had successfully used its position as a free trade area with the U.S., while at the same time not being subject to the same labor laws. For example, the $3.05 per hour minimum wage in the commonwealth, which lasted from 1997 to 2007, was lower than in the U.S. and some other worker protections are weaker, leading to lower production costs. That allowed garments to be labeled "Made in USA" without having to comply with all U.S. labor laws. However, the U.S. minimum wage law signed by President George W. Bush on May 25, 2007, resulted in stepped increases in the Northern Marianas' minimum wage, which allowed it to reach the U.S. level in 2015. [47] The first step (to $3.55) became effective July 25, 2007, and a yearly increase of $0.50 will take effect every May thereafter until the CNMI minimum wage equals the nationwide minimum wage. However, a law signed by President Obama in December 2009 delayed the yearly increase from May to September. As of September 30, 2014, the minimum wage is $6.05 per hour. [48]

The island's exemption from U.S. labor laws had led to many alleged exploitations including recent claims of sweatshops, child labor, child prostitution, and even forced abortions. [49] [50]

An immigration system mostly outside of federal U.S. control (which ended on November 28, 2009) resulted in a large number of Chinese migrant workers (about 15,000 during the peak years) employed in the islands' garment trade. However, the lifting of World Trade Organization restrictions on Chinese imports to the U.S. in 2005 had put the commonwealth-based trade under severe pressure, leading to a number of recent factory closures. Adding to the U.S.-imposed scheduled wage increases, the garment industry became extinct by 2009. [51]

Agricultural production, primarily of tapioca, cattle, coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons exists but is relatively unimportant in the economy.[ citation needed ]

Non-native islanders are not allowed to own land, but can lease it. [52]

Infrastructure

The islands have over 220 miles (350 km) of highways, three airports with paved runways (one about 9,800 feet [3,000 m] long; two around 6,600 feet [2,000 m]), three airports with unpaved runways, and one heliport. The main commercial airport is Saipan International Airport.

Mail service for the islands is provided by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Each major island has its own zip code in the 96950–96952 range, and the USPS two-letter abbreviation for the CNMI is MP. [53] [54] For phone service, the islands are included in the North American Numbering Plan, using area code 670. [53]

Television service is provided by KPPI-LP, Channel 7, which simulcasts Guam's ABC affiliate KTGM, as well as WSZE, Channel 10, which simulcasts Guam's NBC affiliate KUAM-TV. About 10 radio stations broadcast within the CNMI.

Demographics

Historical population
YearPop.±%
1960 6,000    
1970 9,436+57.3%
1980 16,780+77.8%
1990 43,345+158.3%
2000 69,221+59.7%
2010 53,883−22.2%
2017 52,263−3.0%

According to the 2010 census, the population of the CNMI as of April 1, 2010, was 53,883, down from 69,221 in 2000, a decrease of 22.2%. [55] The decrease was reportedly due to a combination of factors including the demise of the garment industry (the vast majority of whose employees were females from China), economic crises, and a decline in tourism, one of the CNMI's primary sources of revenue. [45]

Except for the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands are the least populous sub-federal jurisdiction in the United States, with fewer people than any of the 50 states, the other commonwealth and three self-governing territories, and the District of Columbia. [56]

Language

The official languages on the Northern Marianas Islands include Chamorro, Carolinian, and English. Many Philippine languages, Chinese, and other Pacific island languages are spoken on the Northern Mariana Islands. Spanish is no longer widely used, but it is remained on surnames.

Ethnic groups

Religion

Many people on the Northern Mariana Islands are Roman Catholic or have traditional beliefs. According to the Pew Research Center, 2010: [57]

Education

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System operates public schools in the commonwealth and there are numerous private schools. Northern Marianas College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers a range of programs similar to other small U.S. community colleges.

Culture

Chamorro people Chamorro performers.jpg
Chamorro people

Much of the Chamorro culture in the Mariana Islands was heavily influenced by the Spanish during the Spanish era, as well as by the Germans and Japanese. Respect is an important part of Chamorro culture, and one common display is the tradition of "manngingi'". This tradition has been around for centuries and involves an elder and a young Chamorro child. The child takes the hand of the elder, places it on their nose and says ñot to the men and ñora to the women with the elders responding diosti ayudi, meaning "God help you".

The Carolinian culture is very similar to the Chamorro culture with respect being very important. The Carolinian culture can be traced back to Yap and Chuuk, where the Carolinians originated.

Cuisine

Much of Chamorro cuisine is influenced by various cultures. Examples of popular foods of foreign origin include various types of sweet or savory empanada, originally introduced from Spain, and pancit, a noodle dish from the Philippines.

Archeological evidence reveals that rice has been cultivated in the Marianas since prehistoric times. Red rice made with achoti is a distinct staple food that strongly distinguishes Chamorro cuisine from that of other Pacific islands. It is commonly served for special events, such as parties (gupot or "fiestas"), novenas, and high school or college graduations. Fruits such as lemmai, mangga, niyok, and bilimbines are included in various local recipes. Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and American cuisine are also commonly available.

Local specialities include kelaguen, a dish in which meat is cooked in whole or in part by the action of citric acid rather than heat; tinaktak, a meat dish made with coconut milk; and kå'du fanihi (flying fox/fruit bat soup). Fruit bats have become scarce in modern times on several islands, primarily due to the overharvesting of the species and loss of habitat; hunting them is now illegal even though poaching still occurs.

The Marianas and the Hawaiian islands are the world's foremost consumers, per capita, of Spam, with Guam at the top of the list, and Hawaii second (details regarding the rest of the Marianas are often absent from statistics). Spam was introduced to the islands by the American military as war rations during the World War II era.

Religion

Owing to the Spanish missionaries in the Marianas, a large majority of Chamorros and Carolinians practice Roman Catholicism, including the use of rosaries and novenas. The Japanese occupation had the effect of creating a sizable Buddhist community which remained even after their departure. Due to influence of the United States, diverse denominations of Protestantism also entered the islands.

Sports

Team sports popular in the United States were introduced to the Northern Mariana Islands by American soldiers during World War II. Baseball is the islands' most popular sport. CNMI teams have made appearances in the Little League World Series (in the Little, Junior, Senior and Big league divisions) as well as winning gold medals in the Micronesian Games and South Pacific Games.

Basketball and mixed martial arts are also popular in the islands, which hosted the official 2009 Oceania Basketball Tournament. Trench Wars is the CNMI's Mixed Martial Arts brand. [58] Fighters from the CNMI have competed in the Pacific Xtreme Combat as well as the UFC.

Other sports in the CNMI include Ultimate Frisbee, [59] volleyball, tennis, soccer, outrigger sailing, softball, beach volleyball, rugby, golf, boxing, kickboxing, tae kwon do, track and field, Swimming, Triathlon, and American football.

See also

Related Research Articles

Tinian Island in the United States of America

Tinian is one of the three principal islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Together with uninhabited neighbouring Aguigan, it forms Tinian Municipality, one of the four constituent municipalities of the Northern Marianas. Tinian's largest village is San Jose.

Mariana Islands Archipelago in western North Pacific Ocean

The Mariana Islands are a crescent-shaped archipelago comprising the summits of fifteen mostly dormant volcanic mountains in the western North Pacific Ocean, between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east. They lie south-southeast of Japan, west-southwest of Hawaii, north of New Guinea and east of the Philippines, demarcating the Philippine Sea's eastern limit. They are found in the northern part of the western Oceanic sub-region of Micronesia, and are politically divided into two jurisdictions of the United States: the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and, at the southern end of the chain, the territory of Guam. The islands were named after the influential Spanish queen Mariana of Austria following their colonization in the 17th century.

Commonwealth is a term used by two Unincorporated territories of the United States in their full official names. The territories are: the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

Rota (island) island in the Northern Mariana Islands

Rota, also known as the "Friendly Island", is the southernmost island of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the second southernmost of the Marianas Archipelago. The name Rota is believed to have come from the Spaniards possibly naming the island after the municipality of Rota, Spain. It lies approximately 40 nautical miles (74 km) north-northeast of the United States territory of Guam. Sinapalo village is the largest and most populated, followed by Songsong village (Songsong).

The CNMI Republican Party is a political party in the Northern Mariana Islands. The Northern Mariana Islands Republican Party is now associated with the United States Republican Party though no Northern Mariana Islands politicians have achieved high-ranking positions in the mainland United States.

Pagan (island) volcanic island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean

Pagan is a volcanic island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, belonging to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The island was formerly inhabited, but the inhabitants were evacuated due to volcanic eruptions in 1981.

Garapan largest village on the island of Saipan

Garapan is the largest village and the center of the tourism industry on the island of Saipan, which is a part of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Garapan, as a census-designated place, has an area of 1.2 km² and a population of 3,588.

Benigno Fitial seventh governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Benigno Repeki Fitial is the former seventh governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The second longest-serving governor in CNMI history, Fitial was elected on November 6, 2005, assumed office on January 9, 2006, and was re-elected to a second (five-year) term in 2009. He was impeached by the CNMI House of Representatives on February 11, 2013 and was scheduled to face trial before the CNMI Senate to determine if he should be removed from office. He resigned on February 20, 2013 after 7 years, 1 month, and 11 days in office.

Rota International Airport airport

Rota International Airport, also known as Benjamin Taisacan Manglona International Airport, is a public airport located on Rota Island in the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), near the village of Sinapalo. The airport is owned by the Commonwealth Ports Authority. During WWII the Japanese constructed a single runway which the U.S. bombed out of commission. After the Marines took control of the island 300 men from the 48th U.S.Naval Construction Battalion made the airfield operational during Sept-Oct 1945 and extended to 5000 ft. The runway was then used as an emergency landing strip for Tinian and Siapan airfields.

"Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi" is the regional anthem of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Chalan Piao is a village on the southwestern area of Saipan. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It is bordered on the north by Chalan Kanoa, on the east by As Perdido village and on the south by San Antonio village. To the west is the Pacific Ocean.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System Education system of the U.S. territory

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System is a school district serving the Northern Mariana Islands, a United States territory.

Outline of the Northern Mariana Islands Overview of and topical guide to the Northern Mariana Islands

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Northern Mariana Islands:

Index of Northern Mariana Islands-related articles Wikimedia list article

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

2008 United States House of Representatives election in the Northern Mariana Islands

The United States House of Representatives election in the Northern Mariana Islands, 2008 took place on November 4, 2008 and was the Northern Mariana Islands' first election of a delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Since the CNMI traditionally had general elections in odd-numbered years, the November 2008 ballot contained only this office.

Carolinian people ethnic group

The Carolinian, or Refaluwaschpeople are an Austronesian ethnic group who originated in Oceania, in the eastern Caroline Islands, with a total population of around 8,500 people. They are also known as Remathau in the Yap's outer islands. The Carolinian word means "People of the Deep Sea." It is thought that their ancestors may have originally immigrated from Asia and Indonesia to Micronesia around 2,000 years ago. Their primary language is Carolinian, called Refaluwasch by native speakers, which has a total of about 5,700 speakers. The Carolinians have a matriarchal society in which respect is a very important factor in their daily lives, especially toward the matriarchs. Most Carolinians are of the Roman Catholic faith.

Froilan Cruz Tenorio is a Northern Mariana Islander politician as the member of CNMI Democratic Party, and also was the fourth Governor of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Elected in 1993, he served one term, leaving office in 1998. During his governorship and most of his political career, Tenorio was a member of the Democratic Party of the Northern Mariana Islands, which was not then affiliated with the American Democratic Party. However, he later switched his affiliation to the Covenant Party.

Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Safety is a law enforcement agency and firefighting agency of the Northern Mariana Islands. It is one of the CNMI executive agencies, and as of 2015 its commissioner is James C. Deleon Guerrero.

Same-sex marriage in the Northern Mariana Islands was legalized by the United States Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling on June 26, 2015, which found it unconstitutional to restrict same-sex marriage rights. On June 29, Governor Eloy Inos hailed the decision as "historic" in a statement and said he would work with the Attorney General and local officials in the Northern Mariana Islands to bring the U.S. territory into compliance. Attorney General Edward Manibusan issued a memo on June 30 confirming that the territory is bound by the court decision, calling its statutes defining marriage between a man and a woman "illegal and unenforceable", and updating its marriage application to provide for same-sex couples.

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