Northern Mariana Islands

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Northern Mariana Islands
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Northern Mariana Islands
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Map of Northern Mariana Islands
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Photos of Northern Mariana Islands
 
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OF NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
 

Introduction

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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.
 
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Geography

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Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
 
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15 12 N, 145 45 E
 
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total: 464 sq km
country comparison to the world: 197
land: 464 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: consists of 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian
 
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2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
 
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0 km
 
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1,482 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
 
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tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation; dry season December to June, rainy season July to October
 
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southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic
 
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lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation on Agrihan 965 m
 
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arable land, fish
 
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arable land: 13.04%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 82.61% (2005)
 
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1 sq km (2008)
 
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active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
 
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contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development
 
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strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
 
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People and Society

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noun: NA (US citizens)
adjective: NA
 
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Asian 56.3%, Pacific islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8% (2000 census)
 
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Philippine languages 24.4%, Chinese 23.4%, Chamorro 22.4%, English 10.8%, other Pacific island languages 9.5%, other 9.6% (2000 census)
 
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Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
 
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46,050 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
 
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0-14 years: 26% (male 6,349/female 5,625)
15-64 years: 70.4% (male 15,014/female 17,397)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 790/female 875) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 30 years
male: 29.8 years
female: 30.1 years (2011 est.)
 
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-4.004% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 231
 
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20.69 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
 
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3.28 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 217
 
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-57.46 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 221
 
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urban population: 91% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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SAIPAN (capital) NA (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.061 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.85 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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total: 5.79 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 178
male: 6.19 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.37 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 77.08 years
country comparison to the world: 68
male: 74.45 years
female: 79.87 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.13 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
 
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improved:
urban: 98% of population
rural: 97% of population
total: 98% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2% of population
rural: 3% of population
total: 2% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 92% of population
rural: 93% of population
total: 92% of population
unimproved:
urban: 8% of population
rural: 7% of population
total: 8% of population (2000)
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 96% (1980 est.)
 
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NA
 
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total: 5.9%
country comparison to the world: 121
male: 11.2%
female: 4.4% (2003)
 
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Government

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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
 
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commonwealth in political union with the US; federal funds to the Commonwealth administered by the US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs
 
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commonwealth; self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature
 
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name: Saipan
geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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none (commonwealth in political union with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are four municipalities at the second order: Northern Islands, Rota, Saipan, Tinian
 
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none (commonwealth in political union with the US)
 
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Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)
 
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Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands effective 1 January 1978; Covenant Agreement fully effective 4 November 1986
 
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US system applies, except for customs, wages, immigration laws, and taxation
 
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18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
 
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chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government: Governor Benigno R. FITIAL (since 9 January 2006); Lieutenant Governor Eloy S. INOS (since 1 May 2009)
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
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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 7 November 2009 with a run-off election held on 23 November 2009 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: Benigno R. FITIAL reelected governor in a run-off election held 23 November 2009; percent of vote - Benigno R. FITIAL 51.4%, Heinz HOFSCHNEIDER 48.6%
 
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bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (9 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year staggered terms) and the House of Representatives (20 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 7 November 2009 (next to be held in November 2011); House of Representatives - last held on 7 November 2009 (next to be held in November 2011)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Covenant Party 3, Republican Party 3, Democratic Party 1, independents 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 12, Covenant Party 4, Democratic Party 1, independents 3
note: the Northern Mariana Islands elects one nonvoting delegate to the US House of Representatives; election last held on 2 November 2010 (next to be held in November 2012); seats by party - independent 1
 
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Commonwealth Supreme Court; Superior Court; Federal District Court
 
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Covenant Party [Benigno R. FITIAL]; Democratic Party [Dr. Carlos S. CAMACHO]; Republican Party [Juan S. REYES]
 
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NA
 
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SPC, UPU
 
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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
 
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latte stone
 
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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)
 
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Economy

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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 tourists predominate. Annual tourist entries have exceeded one-half million in recent years, but financial difficulties in Japan have caused a temporary slowdown. The agricultural sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. Garment production is by far the most important industry with the employment of 17,500 mostly Chinese workers and sizable shipments to the US under duty and quota exemptions.
 
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$900 million (2000 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy
 
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$633.4 million (2000)
 
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$12,500 (2000 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
 
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38,450
country comparison to the world: 198
note: nearly 29,000 of these were foreign workers (2005 est.)
 
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agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
 
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8% (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
3.9% (2001)
 
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NA%
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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revenues: $193 million
expenditures: $223 million (FY91/02)
 
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30.5% of GDP (FY01/02)
country comparison to the world: 91
 
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-4.7% of GDP (FY01/02)
country comparison to the world: 140
 
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-0.8% (2000)
country comparison to the world: 8
 
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vegetables and melons, fruits and nuts; ornamental plants; livestock, poultry and eggs; fish and aquaculture products
 
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banking, construction, fishing, garment, tourism, handicrafts
 
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NA%
 
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60,600 kWh (January 2009)
country comparison to the world: 216
 
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48,300 kWh (January 2009)
country comparison to the world: 216
 
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0 kWh (January 2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (January 2009 est.)
 
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$98.2 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 189
 
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garments
 
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$214.4 million (2001)
country comparison to the world: 202
 
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food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products
 
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$NA
 
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the US dollar is used
 
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Communications

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25,500 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 185
 
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20,500 (2004)
country comparison to the world: 210
 
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general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-670; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
 
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1 TV broadcast station on Saipan; multi-channel cable TV services are available on Saipan; 9 licensed radio broadcast stations (2009)
 
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.mp
 
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9 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 222
 
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Transportation

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5 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
 
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1 (2010)
 
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total: 536 km (2008)
country comparison to the world: 193
 
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Saipan, Tinian, Rota
 
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Military

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

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none
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