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Australia - Oceania :: Northern Mariana Islands Print
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  • Introduction :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Background field listing
    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, and came into force on 24 March 1976. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978.
  • Geography :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Location field listing
    Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    15 12 N, 145 45 E
    Map references field listing
    Area field listing
    total: 464 sq km
    land: 464 sq km
    water: 0 sq km

    note: consists of 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian

    country comparison to the world: 197
    Area - comparative field listing
    2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    0 km
    Coastline field listing
    1,482 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    Climate field listing
    tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation; dry season December to June, rainy season July to October
    Terrain field listing
    the southern islands in this north-south trending archipelago are limestone, with fringing coral reefs; the northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on several islands
    Elevation field listing
    lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: unnamed elevation on Agrihan 965 m
    Natural resources field listing
    arable land, fish
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 6.6% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 2.2% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 2.2% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 2.2% (2011 est.)
    forest: 65.5% (2011 est.)
    other: 27.9% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land field listing
    1 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    approximately 90% of the population lives on the island of Saipan
    Natural hazards field listing
    active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
    Environment - current issues field listing
    contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development
    Geography - note field listing
    strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
  • People and Society :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Population field listing
    51,433 (July 2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Nationality field listing
    noun: NA (US citizens)
    adjective: NA
    Ethnic groups field listing
    Asian 50% (includes Filipino 35.3%, Chinese 6.8%, Korean 4.2%, and other Asian 3.7%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 34.9% (includes Chamorro 23.9%, Carolinian 4.6%, and other Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 6.4%), other 2.5%, two or more ethnicities or races 12.7% (2010 est.)
    Languages field listing
    Philippine languages 32.8%, Chamorro (official) 24.1%, English (official) 17%, other Pacific island languages 10.1%, Chinese 6.8%, other Asian languages 7.3%, other 1.9% (2010 est.)
    Religions field listing
    Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 25.02% (male 6,937/female 5,934)
    15-24 years: 16.28% (male 4,518/female 3,857)
    25-54 years: 37.44% (male 9,934/female 9,325)
    55-64 years: 14.01% (male 3,921/female 3,286)
    65 years and over: 7.23% (male 1,988/female 1,733) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age field listing
    total: 32.8 years
    male: 31.8 years
    female: 34.1 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    Population growth rate field listing
    -0.55% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 226
    Birth rate field listing
    15.1 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 118
    Death rate field listing
    5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 192
    Net migration rate field listing
    -15.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 223
    Population distribution field listing
    approximately 90% of the population lives on the island of Saipan
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 91.8% of total population (2020)
    rate of urbanization: 0.29% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    51,000 SAIPAN (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.16 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.19 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 1.15 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.13 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 11.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 13.7 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 9 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 76.1 years
    male: 74 years
    female: 78.5 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    Total fertility rate field listing
    2.7 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: total: 100% of population
    unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017 est.)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: total: 97.7% of population
    unimproved: total: 2.2% of population (2017 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    Education expenditures field listing
  • Government :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
    conventional short form: Northern Mariana Islands
    former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Mariana Islands District
    abbreviation: CNMI
    etymology: formally claimed and named by Spain in 1667 in honor of the Spanish Queen, MARIANA of Austria
    Dependency status field listing
    commonwealth in political union with and under the sovereignty of the US; federal funds to the Commonwealth administered by the US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs
    Government type field listing
    republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; a commonwealth in political union with and under the sovereignty of the US
    Capital field listing
    name: Saipan
    geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
    time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    etymology: the entire island of Saipan is organized as a single municipality and serves as the capital; according to legend, when the first native voyagers arrived in their outrigger canoes they found an uninhabited island; to them it was like an empty voyage, so they named the island "saay" meaning "a voyage," and "peel" meaning "empty"; over time Saaypeel - "island of the empty voyage" - became Saipan
    Administrative divisions field listing
    none (commonwealth in political union with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 4 municipalities at the second order: Northern Islands, Rota, Saipan, Tinian
    Independence field listing
    none (commonwealth in political union with the US)
    National holiday field listing
    Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)
    Constitution field listing
    history: partially effective 9 January 1978 (Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); fully effective 4 November 1986 (Covenant Agreement)
    amendments: proposed by constitutional convention, by public petition, or by the Legislature; ratification of proposed amendments requires approval by voters at the next general election or special election; amendments proposed by constitutional convention or by petition become effective if approved by a majority of voters and at least two-thirds majority of voters in each of two senatorial districts; amendments proposed by the Legislature are effective if approved by majority vote; amended several times, last in 2012
    Citizenship field listing
    see United States
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal; note - indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: President Donald J. TRUMP (since 20 January 2017); Vice President Michael R. PENCE (since 20 January 2017)
    head of government: Governor Ralph TORRES (since 29 December 2015); Lieutenant Governor Victor HOCOG (since 29 December 2015)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate
    elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by an Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state; president and vice president serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); under the US Constitution, residents of the Northern Mariana Islands do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor directly elected by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed; election last held on 13 November 2018 (next to be held in 2022)
    election results: Ralph TORRES elected governor; percent of vote - Ralph TORRES (Republican) 62.2%, Juan BABAUTA (Independent) 37.8%;  Arnold PALACIOS elected Lieutenant Governor
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: bicameral Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature consists of:
    Senate (9 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
    House of Representatives (20 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms)

    the Northern Mariana Islands directly elects 1 delegate to the US House of Representatives by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term
    CNMI Senate - last held on 8 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
    CNMI House of Representatives - last held on 13 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)
    Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands delegate to the US House of Representatives  - last held on 13 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)
    election results:
    CNMI Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 6, independent 3; composition - men 8, women 1, percent of women 11.1%
    CNMI House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 13, independent 7; composition - men 17, women 3, percent of women 15%; note - total CNMI Legislature percent of women 13.8%

    delegate to US House of Representatives - seat won by Democratic Party; composition - 1 man
    note: the Northern Mariana Islands delegate to the US House of Representatives can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the "Committee of the Whole House" but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote
    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) (consists of the chief justice and 2 associate justices); US Federal District Court (consists of 1 judge); note - US Federal District Court jurisdiction limited to US federal laws; appeals beyond the CNMI Supreme Court are referred to the US Supreme Court
    judge selection and term of office: CNMI Supreme Court judges appointed by the governor and confirmed by the CNMI Senate; judges appointed for 8-year terms and another term if directly elected in a popular election; US Federal District Court judges appointed by the US president and confirmed by the US Senate; judges appointed for renewable 10-year terms
    subordinate courts: Superior Court
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Democratic Party [Daniel QUITUGUA]
    Republican Party [James ADA]
    International organization participation field listing
    PIF (observer), SPC, UPU
    Flag description field listing
    blue with a white, five-pointed star superimposed on a gray latte stone (the traditional foundation stone used in building) in the center, surrounded by a wreath; blue symbolizes the Pacific Ocean, the star represents the Commonwealth; the latte stone and the floral head wreath display elements of the native Chamorro culture
    National symbol(s) field listing
    latte stone; national colors: blue, white
    National anthem field listing
    name: "Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi" (In the Middle of the Sea)
    lyrics/music: Jose S. PANGELINAN [Chamoru], David PETER [Carolinian]/Wilhelm GANZHORN

    note: adopted 1996; the Carolinian version of the song is known as "Satil Matawal Pacifico;" as a commonwealth of the US, in addition to the local anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)

  • Economy :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Economy - overview field listing

    The economy of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands(CNMI) has been on the rebound in the last few years, mainly on the strength of its tourism industry. In 2016, the CNMI’s real GDP increased 28.6% over the previous year, following two years of relatively rapid growth in 2014 and 2015. Chinese and Korean tourists have supplanted Japanese tourists in the last few years. The Commonwealth is making a concerted effort to broaden its tourism by extending casino gambling from the small Islands of Tinian and Rota to the main Island of Saipan, its political and commercial center. Investment is concentrated on hotels and casinos in Saipan, the CNMI’s largest island and home to about 90% of its population.

    Federal grants have also contributed to economic growth and stability. In 2016, federal grants amounted to $101.4 billion which made up 26% of the CNMI government’s total revenues. A small agriculture sector consists of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons.

    Legislation is pending in the US Congress to extend the transition period to allow foreign workers to work in the CNMI on temporary visas.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $1.242 billion (2016 est.)
    $933 million (2015 est.)
    $845 million (2014 est.)

    note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy; data are in 2013 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 203
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $1.242 billion (2016 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    28.6% (2016 est.)
    3.8% (2015 est.)
    3.5% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $24,500 (2016 est.)
    $18,400 (2015 est.)
    $16,600 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 84
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 43.1% (2016 est.)
    government consumption: 28.9% (2016 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 26.3% (2016 est.)
    investment in inventories: NA (2016 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 73.6% (2016 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -71.9% (2016 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 1.7% (2016)
    industry: 58.1% (2016 est.)
    services: 40.2% (2016)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    vegetables and melons, fruits and nuts; ornamental plants; livestock, poultry, eggs; fish and aquaculture products
    Industries field listing
    tourism, banking, construction, fishing, handicrafts, other services
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    Labor force field listing
    27,970 (2010 est.)

    note: includes foreign workers

    country comparison to the world: 205
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 1.9%
    industry: 10%
    services: 88.1% (2010 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    11.2% (2010 est.)
    8% (2005 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Population below poverty line field listing
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 389.6 million (2016 est.)
    expenditures: 344 million (2015 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    31.4% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 72
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    3.7% (of GDP) (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 11
    Public debt field listing
    7.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    Fiscal year field listing
    1 October - 30 September
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    0.3% (2016 est.)
    0.1% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 21
    Exports field listing
    $914 million (2016 est.)
    $520 million (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    Exports - commodities field listing
    Imports field listing
    $893 million (2016 est.)
    $638 million (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 187
    Imports - commodities field listing
    food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products
    Debt - external field listing


    Exchange rates field listing

    the US dollar is used

  • Energy :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Electricity access field listing
    electrification - total population: 100% (2016)
    Electricity - production field listing
    60,600 kWh (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    48,300 kWh (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    Electricity - imports field listing
    0 kWh (January 2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
  • Communications :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Telecommunication systems field listing
    general assessment: digital fiber-optic cables and satellites connect the islands to worldwide networks; demand for broadband growing given that mobile services are the source for Internet across region; future launch of 5G (2020)
    domestic: wide variety of services available including dial-up and broadband Internet, mobile cellular, international private lines, payphones, phone cards, voicemail, and automatic call distribution systems (2018)
    international: country code - 1-670; landing points for the Atisa and Mariana-Guam submarine cables linking Mariana islands to Guam; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2019)
    the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Broadcast media field listing
    1 TV broadcast station on Saipan; multi-channel cable TV services are available on Saipan; 9 licensed radio broadcast stations (2009)
    Internet country code field listing
    Internet users field listing
    total: 16,000
    percent of population: 30.6% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
  • Military and Security :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of the US
  • Transportation :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Airports field listing
    5 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 3 (2019)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    Airports - with unpaved runways field listing
    total: 2 (2013)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
    under 914 m: 1 (2013)
    Heliports field listing
    1 (2013)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 536 km (2008)
    country comparison to the world: 194
    Merchant marine field listing
    total: 1
    by type: other 1 (2019)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Saipan, Tinian, Rota
  • Transnational Issues :: Northern Mariana Islands
  • Disputes - international field listing