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Flag of Northern Mariana Islands

Map of Northern Mariana Islands
Introduction 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.
Geography Northern Mariana Islands
Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
Geographic coordinates:
15 12 N, 145 45 E
Map references:
total: 477 sq km
land: 477 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian
Area - comparative:
2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,482 km
Maritime claims:
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
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Agrihan 965 m
Natural resources:
arable land, fish
Land use:
arable land: 13.04%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 82.61% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Natural hazards:
active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
Environment - current issues:
contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development
Geography - note:
strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean
People Northern Mariana Islands
82,459 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.4% (male 8,350/female 7,623)
15-64 years: 79% (male 26,715/female 38,442)
65 years and over: 1.6% (male 679/female 650) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 29.5 years
male: 31.7 years
female: 28.5 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.54% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
19.43 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
2.29 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
8.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.7 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.05 male(s)/female
total population: 0.77 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.92 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.09 years
male: 73.5 years
female: 78.83 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.24 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: NA (US citizens)
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups:
Asian 56.3%, Pacific islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8% (2000 census)
Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
Philippine languages 24.4%, Chinese 23.4%, Chamorro 22.4%, English 10.8%, other Pacific island languages 9.5%, other 9.6% (2000 census)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 96% (1980 est.)
Government Northern Mariana Islands
Country name:
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
Dependency status:
commonwealth in political union with the US; federal funds to the Commonwealth administered by the US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs
Government type:
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)
Administrative divisions:
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
none (commonwealth in political union with the US)
National holiday:
Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)
Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands effective 1 January 1978; Covenant Agreement fully effective 4 November 1986
Legal system:
based on US system, except for customs, wages, immigration laws, and taxation
18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch:
chief of state: President George W. BUSH of the US (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001)
head of government: Governor Benigno R. FITIAL (since 9 January 2006); Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. VILLAGOMEZ (since 9 January 2006)
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 Consitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 5 November 2005 (next to be held November 2009)
election results: Benigno R. FITIAL elected governor in a four-way race; percent of vote - Benigno R. FITIAL (Covenant Party) 28.07%, Heinz HOFSCHNEIDER (Independent) 27.34%, Juan BABAUTA (Republican) 26.6%, Froilan TENORIO (Democrat) 17.99%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Legislature consists of the Senate (9 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year staggered terms) and the House of Representatives (18 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 5 November 2005 (next to be held November 2009); House of Representatives - last held 5 November 2005 (next to be held November 2007)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Covenant Party 3, Republican Party 3, Democratic Party 2, independent 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Covenant Party 7, Republican Party 7, Democratic Party 2, independent 2
note: the Northern Mariana Islands does not have a nonvoting delegate in the US Congress; instead, it has an elected official or "resident representative" located in Washington, DC; seats by party - Republican Party 1 (Pedro A. TENORIO)
Judicial branch:
Commonwealth Supreme Court; Superior Court; Federal District Court
Political parties and leaders:
Covenant Party [Benigno R. FITIAL]; Democratic Party [Dr. Carlos S. CAMACHO]; Republican Party [Juan S. REYES]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Interpol (subbureau), SPC
Flag description:
blue, with a white, five-pointed star superimposed on the gray silhouette of a latte stone (a traditional foundation stone used in building) in the center, surrounded by a wreath
Economy Northern Mariana Islands
Economy - overview:
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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$900 million
note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy (2000 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$12,500 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force:
44,470 total indigenous labor force; 2,699 unemployed; 28,717 foreign workers (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.8% (2000)
revenues: $193 million
expenditures: $223 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (FY01/02 est.)
Agriculture - products:
coconuts, fruits, vegetables; cattle
tourism, construction, garments, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
NA kWh
Electricity - consumption:
NA kWh
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh
Exports - commodities:
Exports - partners:
US (2004)
Imports - commodities:
food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
US, Japan (2004)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
extensive funding from US
Currency (code):
US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications Northern Mariana Islands
Telephones - main lines in use:
21,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3,000 (2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-670; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 6, shortwave 1 (2006)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (Low Power TV on Saipan; in addition, two cable services on Saipan provide varied programming from satellite networks) (2006)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
20 (2005)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2001)
Internet users:
10,000 (2003)
Transportation Northern Mariana Islands
5 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2006)
1 (2006)
total: 536 km (2004)
Ports and terminals:
Saipan, Tinian
Military Northern Mariana Islands
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues Northern Mariana Islands
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006