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Australia-Oceania :: Northern Mariana Islands
(commonwealth in political union with the US)
Page last updated on June 24, 2015
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Northern Mariana Islands

  • 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.

  • Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
    15 12 N, 145 45 E
    total: 464 sq km
    land: 464 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    note: consists of 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian
    2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
    0 km
    1,482 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation; dry season December to June, rainy season July to October
    southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic
    lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: unnamed elevation on Agrihan 965 m
    arable land, fish
    agricultural land: 6.6%
    arable land 2.2%; permanent crops 2.2%; permanent pasture 2.2%
    forest: 65.5%
    other: 27.9% (2011 est.)
    1 sq km (2011)
    active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
    contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development
    strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
  • People and Society :: NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

  • noun: NA (US citizens)
    adjective: NA
    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.)
    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.)
    Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
    51,483 (July 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 25.9% (male 6,944/female 6,393)
    15-24 years: 14.5% (male 4,133/female 3,348)
    25-54 years: 44.9% (male 9,793/female 13,340)
    55-64 years: 10% (male 2,798/female 2,372)
    65 years and over: 4.6% (male 1,122/female 1,240) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total: 31.6 years
    male: 29.4 years
    female: 32.2 years (2014 est.)
    1.13% (2014 est.)
    18.94 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    3.61 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    -4.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 89.3% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 0.39% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    SAIPAN (capital) 49,000 (2014)
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.23 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.73 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    total: 5.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 5.88 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 5.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 77.64 years
    male: 74.98 years
    female: 80.46 years (2014 est.)
    2.01 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    urban: 97.5% of population
    rural: 97.5% of population
    total: 97.5% of population
    urban: 2.5% of population
    rural: 2.5% of population
    total: 2.5% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 79.7% of population
    rural: 79.7% of population
    total: 79.7% of population
    urban: 20.3% of population
    rural: 20.3% of population
    total: 20.3% of population (2012 est.)

  • conventional long form: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
    conventional short form: Northern Mariana Islands
    abbreviation: CNMI
    former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Mariana Islands District
    commonwealth in political union with the US; federal funds to the Commonwealth administered by the US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs
    commonwealth; self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature
    name: Saipan
    geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
    time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    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
    none (commonwealth in political union with the US)
    Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)
    partially effective 1 January 1978 (Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); fully effective 4 November 1986 (Covenant Agreement); amended several times, last in 2012 (2012)
    US system applies, except for customs, wages, immigration laws, and taxation
    18 years of age; universal; note - indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
    chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
    head of government: Governor Eloy S. INOS (since 20 February 2013); Lieutenant Governor Jude U. HOFSCHNEIDER (since 20 February 2013)
    cabinet: the cabinet consists of the heads of the 10 principal departments under the executive branch who are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate; other members include special assistants to the governor and office heads appointed by and reporting directly to the governor
    elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in the Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held on 4 November 2014 with a run-off election to be held on 21 November 2014 (next to be held in 2018)
    election results: percent of vote - in runoff Eloy S. INOS reelected with 57% to Heinz HOFSCHNEIDER 43%; Ralph TORRES elected Lieutenant Governor
    description: bicameral Northern Mariana Commonwealth Legislature consists of the Senate (9 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms) and the House of Representatives (20 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms)
    elections: Senate - last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held in November 2018); House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held in November 2016)
    election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Covenant Party 3, Republican Party 3, Democratic Party 1, independent 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 13, Republican Party 7
    note: the Northern Mariana Islands directly elects 1 member by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term as a delegate to the US House of Representatives; the delegate 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; election of delegate last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on November 2016)
    highest court(s): Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands or 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 Northern Mariannas Islands Supreme Court are referred to the US Supreme Court
    judge selection and term of office: judges of the Supreme Court of the CNMI appointed by the governor and confirmed by the CNMI Senate; judges appointed for 8-year terms and can serve another term if approved through voter 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
    Covenant Party [Benigno R. FITIAL]
    Democratic Party [Dr. Carlos S. CAMACHO]
    Republican Party [Juan S. REYES]
    PIF (observer), SPC, UPU
    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
    latte stone; national colors: blue, white
    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 United States, in addition to the local anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)

  • The Northern Mariana Islands' economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. In fiscal year 2013, federal grants accounted for 35.4% of the Commonwealth’s total revenues. A small agriculture sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. The Commonwealth’s economy continued to recover in 2013. Real GDP increased 4.4%, following a 2.1% gain in 2012. Economic growth in 2013 reflected increases in consumer spending and exports of services, mainly spending by foreign tourists. Tourism continued to grow in 2013, after posting double-digit growth in 2012. The tourist industry employs approximately a quarter of the work force and accounts for roughly one-fourth of GDP. 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, it’s political and commercial center.
    $682 million (2013 est.)
    $665 million (2012)
    $649 million (2011)
    note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy
    $1.232 billion (2013 est.)
    4.5% (2013)
    2.1% (2012)
    -6.8% (2011)
    $13,300 (2013 est.)
    $12,900 (2012)
    $12,400 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 111
    household consumption: 91.3%
    government consumption: 51.5%
    investment in fixed assets: 3.8%
    exports of goods and services: 42.2%
    imports of goods and services: -88.9% (2013)
    agriculture: 1.7%
    industry: 2.9%
    services: 95.4% (2010)
    vegetables and melons, fruits and nuts; ornamental plants; livestock, poultry, eggs; fish and aquaculture products
    tourism, banking, construction, fishing, handicrafts, other services
    note: includes nearly 29,000 foreign workers (2010 est.)
    agriculture: 1.9%
    industry: 10%
    services: 88.1% (2010 est.)
    11.2% (2010 est.)
    8% (2005 est.)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $246.4 million
    expenditures: $249.8 million (2013)
    20% of GDP (2013 est.)
    -0.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
    1 October - 30 September
    -2.5% (2013 est.)
    1.1% (2012)
    $288 million (2013)
    $268 million (2012)
    $606 million (2013)
    $531 million (2012)
    food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products
    the US dollar is used

  • 60,600 kWh (January 2009)
    48,300 kWh (January 2009)
    0 kWh (January 2009 est.)
    0 kWh (January 2009 est.)
  • Communications :: NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

  • international: country code - 1-670; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
    1 TV broadcast station on Saipan; multi-channel cable TV services are available on Saipan; 9 licensed radio broadcast stations (2009)
    AM 1, FM 6, shortwave 1 (2005)
    1 (on Saipan; in addition, 2 cable services on Saipan provide varied programming from satellite networks) (2006)
    17 (2012)
  • Transportation :: NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

  • 5 (2013)
    total: 3
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 2
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
    under 914 m:
    1 (2013)
    1 (2013)
    total: 536 km (2008)
    major seaport(s): Saipan, Tinian, Rota

  • males age 16-49: 8,793
    females age 16-49: 11,569 (2010 est.)
    male: 410
    female: 306 (2010 est.)
    defense is the responsibility of the US
  • Transnational Issues :: NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

  • none