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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. 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
note: includes 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian
water: 0 sq km
land: 477 sq km
Area - comparative:
2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,482 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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: 15.22%
permanent crops: 6.52%
other: 78.26% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
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
78,252 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.3% (male 8,286; female 7,625)
15-64 years: 78.1% (male 25,579; female 35,534)
65 years and over: 1.6% (male 603; female 625) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 29.2 years
male: 31.4 years
female: 28.2 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.71% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
19.77 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
2.3 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
9.61 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.72 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female
total population: 0.79 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.25 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 7.18 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.67 years
male: 73.11 years
female: 78.38 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.33 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: NA
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups:
Chamorro, Carolinians and other Micronesians, Caucasian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean
Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
English, Chamorro, Carolinian
note: 86% of population speaks a language other than English at home
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: Mariana Islands District (Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
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
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)
Covenant Agreement effective 4 November 1986 and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands effective 1 January 1978
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 Juan N. BABAUTA (since NA January 2002); Lieutenant Governor Diego T. BENEVENTE (since NA January 2002)
cabinet: NA
elections: US president and vice president elected on the same ticket for four-year terms; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held NA November 2001 (next to be held NA November 2005)
election results: Juan N. BABAUTA elected governor in a four-way race; percent of vote - Juan N. BABAUTA (Republican Party) 49%
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)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Covenant Party 9, Republican Party 7, Democratic Party 1, independent 1
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)
elections: Senate - last held 1 November 2003 (next to be held 5 November 2005); House of Representatives - last held 1 November 2003 (next to be held 5 November 2005)
Judicial branch:
Commonwealth Supreme Court; Superior Court; Federal District Court
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party [Dr. Carlos S. CAMACHO]; Republican Party [NA]; Covenant Party [Benigno R. FITIAL]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Interpol (subbureau)
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 employment of 17,500 mostly Chinese workers and sizable shipments to the US under duty and quota exemptions.
purchasing power parity - $900 million
note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $12,500 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.2% (1997 est.)
Labor force:
6,006 total indigenous labor force; 2,699 unemployed; 28,717 foreign workers (June 1995)
Labor force - by occupation:
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $193 million
expenditures: $223 million, including capital expenditures of NA (FY01/02 est.)
tourism, construction, garments, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
NA kWh
Electricity - consumption:
NA kWh
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh
Agriculture - products:
coconuts, fruits, vegetables; cattle
Exports - commodities:
Exports - partners:
US (2000)
Imports - commodities:
food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
US, Japan (2000)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
extensive funding from US
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 2, FM 3, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (on Saipan and one station planned for Rota; in addition, two cable services on Saipan provide varied programming from satellite networks) (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2001)
Internet users:
Transportation Northern Mariana Islands
0 km
total: 362 km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km (1991)
Ports and harbors:
Saipan, Tinian
Merchant marine:
6 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
under 914 m: 2 (2003 est.)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1 (2003 est.)
Military Northern Mariana Islands
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues Northern Mariana Islands
Disputes - international: