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Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas
Flag Seal
AnthemGi Talo Gi Halom Tasi  (Chamorro)
Satil Matawal Pacifiko  (Carolinian)
Capital Saipan
17°11′N 146°45′E / 17.183°N 146.75°E / 17.183; 146.75
Official language(s) English, Chamorro, Carolinian
Government Presidential representative democracy
 -  Head of State Barack Obama[1]
 -  Governor Benigno R. Fitial
 -  Lt. Governor Eloy S. Inos
Commonwealth in union with United States 
 -  Covenant 1975 
 -  Commonwealth status 1978 
 -  end of trusteeship 1986 
Area
 -  Total 477 km2 (195th)
184.17 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
Population
 -  July 2007 estimate 86,616 (198th)
 -  Density 168/km2 (n/a)
63.8/sq mi
Currency United States dollar (USD)
Time zone (UTC+10)
Internet TLD .mp
Calling code +1-670


The Northern Mariana Islands en-us-Northern Mariana Islands.ogg /ˈnɔrðərn mɛəriˈænə ˈaɪləndz/ , officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of fifteen islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines, at 15°1′2″N 145°4′5″E / 15.01722°N 145.06806°E / 15.01722; 145.06806. The United States Census Bureau reports the total land area of all islands as 179.01 square miles (463.63 km2).

The Northern Mariana Islands has a population of 80,362 (2005 estimate). The official 2000 census count was 69,221.[2] More than 90% of the Commonwealth's population lives on the island of Saipan. Of the fourteen other islands, only two, Tinian and Rota, have a significant population. The islands of Agrihan and Alamagan have fewer than ten residents, and the remaining ten islands are unpopulated. The Northern Mariana Islands have the lowest male to female sex ratio in the world with an average of 76 men to every 100 women.[3] That is due to the overwhelming female majority of foreign workers, especially in the garment industry.[4]

The Commonwealth's centre of government is located in the village of Capitol Hill on the island of Saipan. As the island is governed as a single municipality, most publications term "Saipan" as the Commonwealth's capital.

Contents

Geology

Anatahan

The Northern Mariana Islands, together with Guam to the south, compose the Mariana Islands. The southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; the northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on Anatahan, Pagan and Agrihan. The volcano on Agrihan has the highest elevation in the islands at 3,166 feet (965 m). About one-fifth of the land is arable, another tenth is pasture. The primary natural resource is fish, some of which are endangered species, which leads to conflict. Also, development has created landfills which have contaminated groundwater on Saipan, which might contribute to disease.

Anatahan Volcano is a small volcanic island 80 miles (130 km) north of Saipan and is about 6 miles (10 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide. Anatahan began erupting suddenly from its east crater on May 10, 2003, at about 6 p.m. (0800 UTC). Since then it has continued to alternate between eruptive and calm periods. On April 6, 2005, approximately 50,000 cubic meters (1,800,000 cu ft) of ash and rock were ejected, causing a large, black cloud to drift south over Saipan and Tinian.

Northern Mariana Islands map.gif

Climate

The islands have a tropical marine climate moderated by seasonal northeast trade winds. There is little seasonal temperature variation; the dry season runs from December to June, and the rainy season from July to November and can include typhoons. The Guinness Book of World Records has cited Saipan as having the most equable temperature in the world.[5]

History

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European explorers

The first European exploration of the area was that led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, who landed on nearby Guam and claimed the islands for Spain. The explorers were met offshore by the native Chamorros, who delivered refreshments to them and then helped themselves to a small boat belonging to Magellan's fleet. This led to a cultural clash because in the old Chamorro culture there was little if any private property and to take something that one needed, such as a boat for fishing, was not considered theft. Due to that cultural misunderstanding, around half a dozen locals were killed and a village of 40 homes were burned by the Spanish before the boat was retrieved. The archipelago thus acquired the ignominious name Islas de los Ladrones ("Islands of the Thieves").[citation needed]

Three days after he had arrived, Magellan fled the archipelago under attack—a portentous beginning to its relationship with the Spanish. The islands were then considered by Spain to be annexed, and therefore under their governance, from the Philippines, as part of the Spanish East Indies. The Spanish built a Royal Palace in Guam for the Governor of the Islands. Its remains could still be seen in 2006.[citation needed]

Guam was an important stop-over from Mexico for galleons carrying gold and other cargo between the Philippines and Spain. There are several lost sunken Spanish galleons off Guam.[citation needed]

In 1668 the islands were renamed by Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores as Las Marianas after Mariana of Austria, widow of Spain's Philip IV.[citation needed]

Most of the islands' native population (90%-95%)[6] died from the diseases brought by the Spanish or intermarried with non-Chamorro settlers under Spanish rule, but new settlers, primarily from the Philippines and the Caroline Islands, were brought in to repopulate the islands. Despite this, the Chamorro population did gradually resurge, and Chamorro, Filipino and Carolinian language and ethnic differences remain basically distinct in the Marianas.

To facilitate cultural and religious assimilation, Spanish colonists forced the Chamorros to be concentrated on Guam for a period of time. By the time Chamorros were allowed to return to the present-day Northern Marianas, Carolinians (from present-day eastern Yap State and western Chuuk State) had settled in the Marianas. Hence Carolinians and Chamorros are both considered as indigenous to the Northern Marianas and both languages are official in the commonwealth (but not on Guam).

German and Japanese possession

After the Spanish–American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the United States and sold the rest of the Marianas (along with the Caroline and Marshall Islands) to Germany.

Japan declared war on Germany during World War I and invaded the Northern Marianas. In 1919, the League of Nations, precursor of the United Nations, awarded the islands to Japan by mandate. During Japan's occupation, sugar cane became the main industry of the islands, and labor was imported from Japan and associated colonies (especially Okinawa and Korea). In the census of December 1939, the total population of the South Pacific Mandate was 129,104, of which 77,257 were Japanese (including ethnic Taiwanese and Koreans).

Hours after the Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces from the Marianas launched an invasion of Guam on December 8, 1941. Chamorros from the Northern Marianas, then under Japanese rule for more than two decades, were brought to Guam to assist the Japanese administration. This fact, combined with the harsh treatment of Guamanian Chamorros during the brief 31-month occupation, created a rift between the two populations that would become the main reason Guamanians rejected reunification referendum approved by the Northern Marianas in the 1960s.

American acquisition

Near the end of World War II, the United States military invaded the Mariana Islands on June 15, 1944, beginning with the Battle of Saipan, which ended on July 9 with the Japanese commander committing seppuku (a traditional Japanese form of ritual suicide). Of the 30,000 Japanese troops that defended Saipan, less than 1,000 remained alive at battle's end.[7] U.S. forces then recaptured Guam beginning July 21 and invaded Tinian (see Battle of Tinian) on July 24, which provided the take off point for the Enola Gay, the plane dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima a year later. Rota was left untouched (and isolated) until the Japanese surrender in August 1945, due to its military insignificance.

The war did not end for everyone with the signing of the armistice. The last group of Japanese soldiers surrendered on Saipan on December 1, 1945. On Guam, Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi hid out in the village of Talofofo until 1972.

Between the end of the invasion and the Japanese surrender, the Saipan and Tinian populations were kept in concentration camps. Japanese nationals were eventually repatriated, and the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinians returned to the land.

Commonwealth

After Japan's defeat, the islands were administered by the United States as part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; thus, defense and foreign affairs are the responsibility of the United States. 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 territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the U.S. was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978. Similar to other U.S. territories, the islands do not have representation in the U.S. Senate, but are represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by a delegate (beginning January 2009 for the CNMI) who may vote in committee but not on the House floor.[8]

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1970 9,640
1980 16,780 74.1%
1990 43,345 158.3%
2000 69,221 59.7%

The official 2000 census count was 69,221. Asian 56.3%, Pacific Islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8%. The Northern Mariana Islands have the highest female to male ratio in the world with 0.77 males/female (1.31 females/male).

Politics

Current Governor Benigno Fitial

The Northern Mariana Islands have a presidential representative democratic system, in which the governor is head of government, with a multi-party system. The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth in political union with the United States. Federal funds to the Commonwealth are administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Repeating the separation of powers in other U.S. territories and state governments, executive power is exercised by the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. Senate President Joseph M. Mendiola is a founding member of the Outlying Areas Senate Presidents Caucus. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.

However, 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. Some critics, including the author of the political website Saipan Sucks, charge that this is nepotism carried out within the trappings of democracy.[9][10]

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 (CNMI) in Political Union with the United States. The CNMI Government adopted its own constitution in 1977, and the constitutional government took office in January 1978. The Covenant was fully implemented November 3, 1986, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation no. 5564, which conferred United States citizenship on legally qualified CNMI residents.

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 under United Nations Security Council Resolution 683 passed on the same day.

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."[11]

The CNMI has a United States district court which exercises jurisdiction over the District of the Northern Mariana Islands (DNMI), which is coterminous with the CNMI. The United States 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. The district court's local rules specifically require lawyers to wear shoes to court.[12]

Since the founding of the CNMI in January 1978 and its qualified residents becoming U.S. citizens in November 1986, the CNMI was represented in the United States (and especially Washington, D.C.) by a Resident Representative, who was elected at-large by CNMI voters and whose office was paid for by the CNMI government. In 2008, Congress enacted Pub.L. 110-229, title VII of which established a CNMI delegate's seat. Gregorio Sablan was elected in November 2008 as the first CNMI delegate and took office in the 111th Congress.

Economy

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands benefits from substantial subsidies and development assistance from the federal government of the United States. The economy also relies heavily on tourism, especially from Japan, and the rapidly dwindling garment manufacturing sector. The tourism industry has also been dwindling since late 2005. Since late 2006, tourist arrivals fell 15.23% (73,000 potential visitors) from the eleven months prior.[13]

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 Bush on May 25, 2007, will result in stepped increases in the Northern Marianas' minimum wage to reach U.S. level by 2015.[14] 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.

In the extreme, 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.[15][16]

A separate immigration system outside of federal U.S. control (scheduled to end on November 28, 2009) has 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 is expected to become extinct by 2009.[17]

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

Exemptions from some federal regulations

Although the CNMI is part of the United States, several members of Congress have fought hard to keep labor regulation out of the CNMI.

Some extreme labor practices, not common elsewhere in the United States, had occurred. Some of these labor practices include forcing women to have abortions, as exposed in the March 18, 1998, episode of ABC News' 20/20, and enslaving women and forcing them into prostitution, as in the U.S. Department of Justice conviction of several CNMI traffickers in 1999 attests. In 2005 and 2006, the issue of these regulatory exemptions in the CNMI was brought up during the American political scandals of Congressman Tom DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

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

Transportation and communication

The islands have over 220 miles (350 km) of highways, three airports with paved runways (one about 9800 feet (3000 m) long; two around 6,600 feet (2000 m), three airports with unpaved runways, and one heliport.

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 state abbreviation for the CNMI is "MP" (the uppercase version of its Internet top-level domain).[18][19] For phone service, the islands are included in the North American Numbering Plan, using area code 670.[18]

Education

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.

Islands, island groups and municipalities

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

No. Island Area Population
(2000
census)
Height Highest peak Location
sq mi km2 feet m
Northern Islands (Northern Islands Municipality)
1 Farallon de Pajaros (Uracas) 0.985 2.55 1,047 319 20°33′N 144°54′E / 20.55°N 144.9°E / 20.55; 144.9 (Farallon de Pajaros)
2 Maug Islands[n 1] 0.822 2.13 745 227 (North Island) 20°02′N 145°19′E / 20.033°N 145.317°E / 20.033; 145.317 (Maug Islands)
3 Asuncion 2.822 7.31 2,923 891 19°43′N 145°41′E / 19.717°N 145.683°E / 19.717; 145.683 (Asuncion)
4 Agrihan (Agrigan)[n 2] 16.80 43.51 9 3,166 965 Mount Agrihan 18°46′N 145°40′E / 18.767°N 145.667°E / 18.767; 145.667 (Agrihan)
5 Pagan[n 3] 18.24 47.24 1,900 579 Mount Pagan 18°08′36″N 145°47′39″E / 18.14333°N 145.79417°E / 18.14333; 145.79417 (Pagan)
6 Alamagan 4.29 11.11 6 2,441 744 Alamagan 17°35′N 145°50′E / 17.583°N 145.833°E / 17.583; 145.833 (Alamagan)
7 Guguan 1.494 3.87 988 301 17°20′N 145°51′E / 17.333°N 145.85°E / 17.333; 145.85 (Guguan)
8 Zealandia Bank >0.0 >0.0 >0 >0 16°45′N 145°42′E / 16.75°N 145.7°E / 16.75; 145.7
9 Sarigan[n 4] 1.92 4.97 1,801 549 16°43′N 145°47′E / 16.717°N 145.783°E / 16.717; 145.783 (Sarigan)
10 Anatahan[n 2] 12.05 31.21 2,582 787 16°22′N 145°40′E / 16.367°N 145.667°E / 16.367; 145.667 (Anatahan)
11 Farallon de Medinilla 0.328 0.85 266 81 16°01′N 146°04′E / 16.017°N 146.067°E / 16.017; 146.067 (Farallon de Medinilla)
Southern Islands (3 municipalities)
12 Saipan 44.55 115.38 62,392 1,555 474 Mount Tapochau 15°11′06″N 145°44′28″E / 15.185°N 145.74111°E / 15.185; 145.74111 (Saipan)
13 Tinian 39.00 101.01 3,540 558 170 Kastiyu (Lasso Hill) 14°57′12″N 145°38′54″E / 14.95333°N 145.64833°E / 14.95333; 145.64833 (Tinian)
14 Aguijan (Agiguan)[n 5] 2.74 7.10 515 157 Alutom 14°42′N 145°18′E / 14.7°N 145.3°E / 14.7; 145.3 (Aguijan)
15 Rota 32.97 85.39 3 283 1,611 491 Mt. Manira 14°08′37″N 145°11′08″E / 14.14361°N 145.18556°E / 14.14361; 145.18556 (Rota)
Northern Mariana Islands 179.01 463.63 69,221 3,166 965 Mount Agrihan 14°08' to 20°33'N,
144°54° to 146°04'E
Notes
  1. ^ Japanese military occupation 1939 to 1944
  2. ^ a b evacuated 1990 due to volcanic eruptions
  3. ^ evacuated 1981 due to volcanic eruptions
  4. ^ formerly inhabited (population of 21 in 1935, but only 2 in 1968)
  5. ^ 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 largely evacuated. Human habitation is limited to Agrihan, Pagan, and Alamagan, but population varies due to various economic factors, including children's education. The Census of April 2000 registered just six people in all of the Northern Islands municipality (then residing on Alamagan), 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.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ As President of the United States CIA World Factbook - Northern Mariana Islands
  2. ^ Census Bureau News
  3. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Field Listing - Sex ratio
  4. ^ Census shows poorer NMI, Saipan Tribune 2008-04-11
  5. ^ net.saipan.com
  6. ^ "Culture of Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands". www.everyculture.com. http://www.everyculture.com/No-Sa/Commonwealth-of-the-Northern-Mariana-Islands.html/. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  7. ^ "Battle of Saipan". Historynet.com.
  8. ^ Pacific Magazine: Sablan WIll Stand For NMI Delegate Position
  9. ^ worldcatlibraries.org
  10. ^ Charles P. Reyes Jr. (March 30, 1999). "Primitive tribalism". Saipan Tribune. http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?newsID=1594&cat=3. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  11. ^ doi.gov
  12. ^ DNMI Local Rule 83.3
  13. ^ Mar-Vic Cagurangan (September 19, 2007). "Guam senators oppose NMI federalization" (). Marianas Variety. http://www.mvariety.com/calendar/september/19/frontpage/front01.htm. 
  14. ^ Jayvee L. Vallejera (May 27, 2007). "NMI minimum wage hike OK'd". Saipan Tribune. http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?cat=1&newsID=68875. 
  15. ^ Rebecca Clarren (May 9, 2006). "Sex, Greed And Forced Abortions". TomPaine.com. http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/05/09/sex_greed_and_forced_abortions.php. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  16. ^ Rebecca Clarren (Spring 2006). "Paradise Lost: Greed, Sex Slavery, Forced Abortions and Right-Wing Moralists". Ms.. http://www.msmagazine.com/spring2006/paradise.asp. 
  17. ^ Ferdie de la Torre (May 30, 2007). "Dotts: It's the end for all CNMI garment factories". Saipan Tribune. http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?cat=1&newsID=68959. 
  18. ^ a b "About the CNMI". CNMI Commonwealth Law Revision Commission. http://cnmilaw.org/aboutcnmi.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  19. ^ "Official USPS Abbreviations". United States Postal Service. http://www.usps.com/ncsc/lookups/usps_abbreviations.html. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 

External links

Government
General information
News media
Other


Coordinates: 17°N 146°E / 17°N 146°E / 17; 146


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Northern Mariana Islands
noframe
Flag
Image:cq-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Saipan
Government Commonwealth in political union with the United States
Currency US dollar (USD)
Area 477 sq km
(includes 14 islands)
Population 80,362 (July 2006 est.)
Language English, Chamorro, Carolinian
Religion Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
Calling Code +1 670
Internet TLD .mp

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [1] (CNMI) is a commonwealth in political union with (and in practice, close to a territory of) the United States. The islands are in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean, between Japan, the Philippines, and Palau.

Map of Northern Mariana Islands
Map of Northern Mariana Islands
  • Northern Islands
  • Saipan - home to the capital and the most popular destination by far
  • Rota
  • Tinian

Understand

History

The earliest settlers in the Marianas chain are thought to have descended from the Malay race and to have migrated from the Malay peninsula via Indonesia or the Philippines. Early Chamorros were farmers, fishermen, hunters, and built their houses on large stone pillars known today as "latte stones" (a few of which still exist on Tinian and Rota).

The first European in these waters was Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, who landed on nearby Guam and claimed the islands for Spain. Not content to claim the land, the Spanish also helped themselves to whatever else happened to be lying around. The natives responded in kind, helping themselves to tools and other items from Magellan's ships. Angry at this, Magellan first dubbed the islands "Las Islas de los Ladrones", (The Islands of the Thieves), but in 1668 their name was changed to Las Marianas after Maria Anna of Austria, widow of Spain's Philip IV.

Nearly all of the islands' native population died out during Spanish rule, but new settlers from modern-day Micronesia repopulated them to some extent. Sold to Germany from 1899, the Japanese took over in 1914 and turned the island into a military garrison. During World War II, the Marines landed on June 15, 1944 and eventually won the bitterly fought three-week Battle of Saipan.

Under US administration as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific, the people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided in the 1970s not to seek independence but instead to forge closer links with the US. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the US was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978. The Marianas are self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature, but the United States government handles defense and foreign relations. Local residents are U.S. citizens by birth but do not pay federal taxes or vote in the presidential elections, instead they elect a non-voting representative to the U.S. government.

The economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. The rate of funding has declined as locally generated government revenues have grown. The key tourist industry employs about 50% of the work force and accounts for roughly one-fourth of GDP. Japanese and Korean tourists predominate. Annual tourist entries have exceeded one-half million in recent years, but financial difficulties in Japan have caused a temporary slowdown. Currently, more Korean tourists go to the CNMI than Guam, while more Japanese tourists go to Guam than the CNMI. This change is reflected by a shift in airlines servicing the islands, with Korean Air and Asiana Airlines offering direct service to Saipan from Seoul, South Korea, while JAL and ANA offer direct service from Japan to Guam. Air service is now offered from most major Chinese cities as well (including Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou).

The agricultural sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. Garment production used to be the largest industry, but the last garment factory closed in early 2009.

The northern islands of the CNMI are mainly populated by Caroline Islanders (a Polynesian group with origins in Kiribati), while the southern islands are populated by Chamorros. In recent years, the CNMI has allowed many migrant workers.

Climate

Tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation. Dry season December to June, rainy season July to October. The typhoon, or hurricane, season lasts several months and starts in late August to early September.

Terrain

Southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs. Northern islands are volcanic.

Get in

While US citizens can enter simply with proof of citizenship (usually a passport), the CNMI controls its own immigration and does not require US visas. Visitors from all US Visa Waiver Program countries plus holders of Taiwan or Hong Kong passports (either Hong Kong SAR or British National Passports) will be granted a 30-day stay on entry, but citizens of other countries [2] will need to apply for an Authorisation to Board letter at least four weeks in advance.

This is no longer true. The CNMI was federalized in November of 2009 and now adheres primarily to U.S. international travel codes and restrictions. Certain accommodations are currently being made, but if you're not traveling with a U.S. passport, you need to check on the more recent regulations or you may be denied entry.

By plane

The main international gateway into the Marianas is Saipan. There are frequent flights from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, but visitors from the US will have to connect in Guam or transit through the previous countries listed.

By boat

There are no scheduled ferry services to the islands. Occasionally yachts, cruise ships, or military vessels stop in port for a brief visit.

Get out

All departing travellers must pass through US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints; if you are continuing on to Guam, you need a US Passport, a valid US visa, or to be a citizen of a Visa Waiver Country as the US government controls Guam immigration.

Travellers returning to Japan from the Northern Marianas are not allowed to bring any US beef products (including beef jerky) due to current trade restrictions; any such products will be confiscated and destroyed by Japanese customs officials.

Countries that maintain a consular presence in the CNMI include Japan [3], the Philippines [4], and Palau [5].

Get around

By plane

Scheduled flights on Continental Airlines connect Saipan to Rota, Tinian, and Guam. Three other islands have airstrips that can serve (expensive) chartered flights.

By boat

Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino runs a ferry service from Saipan to Tinian and back.

See

The CNMI has many WWII bunkers, which fall under the National Park Service as "War in the Pacific" parks. There are also memorials on the northern end of Saipan to the Japanese soldiers and civilians who feared capture by U.S. forces and committed suicide by jumping from the cliffs into the ocean.

Do

The Marianas' top activity among Americans is scuba diving and snorkeling. In additional to the coral reefs you might expect, the waters around the islands were the scene of fierce fighting during World War II and there are many ship wrecks and even rusting tanks stuck on the seabed.

Many Asian (particularly South Koreans) visitors come to the CNMI for gambling (especially on Tinian), and karaoke/hostess bars. Saipan has a thriving (but illegal) prostitution industry, most of the workers being from China or the Philippines.

Talk

English is the official language and universally spoken, but 86% of the population speaks a language other than English at home, including the native languages Chamorro and Carolinian. Basic Japanese is also spoken by many in the tourist industry. Tagalog, Chinese and Korean are also used widely.

Buy

The CNMI uses the US dollar exclusively. The islands are fairly expensive due to their remote location, comparative wealth and the profusion of free-spending Japanese and Korean package tourists, so figure on at least US$100 a day for travel in any comfort (this being also the entry requirement). As in the mainland US, tips of 10-15% are expected.

Major credit cards are accepted at most retailers and restaurants. On Saipan, the major banks, and some restaurants and stores all have ATM machines. Bank of Guam has branches on Tinian and Rota, complete with ATMs.

Eat

While all American and Japanese favorites are readily available, local Chamorro food (or touristy versions of it) is also offered in speciality restaurants. Filipino, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Italian and Mexican dishes are also widely available. Most of the hotels have expensive but good quality restaurants, especially Hyatt Regency in Garapan, Aqua Resort in Tanapag, and Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio.

Drink

The main beers available in Saipan establishments are Budweiser and Miller products, usually sold in bottles only. However, a few places do serve Fosters or Victoria Bitter on tap, and a few have Miller Lite on tap as well. Other brands widely sold are San Miguel (Philippines), Tsingtao (China), Sapporo (Japan, bottled in Canada), and Corona (Mexico). Plenty of stores on Saipan have low-priced, good quality wine available, and there are plenty of harder drinks as well as mixers available everywhere.

Sleep

Saipan's accommodation options are concentrated towards giant package hotels. Rack rates are often ludicrous but heavy discounts are available, especially outside the Japanese holiday seasons. Cheap motels are few, hostels are nonexistent, and camping is not recommended due to security concerns. Options are even more limited on Tinian and Rota.

Learn

Northern Marianas College is Saipan's community college option, and they have satellite campuses on Tinian and Rota. Public and private schools are also available for children from preschool age to high school.

Work

U.S. citizens can work freely without needing a permit; however citizens of most other nations need a permit from the Department of Labor. Most businesses prefer to employ Filipinos, and also citizens of Thailand, China, South Korea and Bangladesh. The minimum wage is $4.55 per hour.

Stay safe

Natural hazards : active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November).

Crime : people have reported their cars being broken into in Saipan's tourist areas, and some people have also had their apartments or hotel rooms burgled. Don't leave valuables lying around and use common sense when walking around tourist areas, especially at night. That said, Saipan is safer than a lot of other destinations, with muggings and other violent crimes against tourists being extremely rare.

Stay healthy

The Commonwealth Health Centre is Saipan's overburdened and understaffed public hospital. There are also many excellent but expensive private clinics. The Seventh-Day Adventist clinic is noted for their dental care and vision centre. Health care on the other islands is scarce.

Respect

Veneration of the elderly, ancestors, and departed family members is a large part of Chamorro culture. Always give respect to the older people in the room.

Contact

The Northern Marianas are part of the North American dialing plan. The country code is 1, and the local area code is 670.

Mail is handled by the U.S. Postal Service; the state code is MP and the postal code is 96950. The main post office branch is located in Chalan Kanoa, other branches are in Capitol Hill as well as Tinian and Rota. Most hotels can send mail for you. DHL and FedEx also offer courier services.

Internet access is widely available. The top level domain for the Northern Marianas is .mp.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

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Wikipedia

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA: /ˈnɔː.ðən ˌmæɹ.iˈæn.ə ˈaɪ.ləndz/
  • (US) IPA: /ˈnɔɹ.ðɚn ˌmɛɹ.iˈæn.ə ˈaɪ.ləndz/
  •  Audio (US)help, file

Proper noun

Singular
Northern Mariana Islands

Plural
-

Northern Mariana Islands

  1. An archipelago in the Western Pacific Ocean.

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|240px|Location of the Northern Mariana Islands]] The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean that are a political division controlled by the United States. Its capital is Saipan.

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