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  Northern Mariana Islands   
  Introduction Back To Top

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 Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation; dry season December to June, rainy season July to October

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
15 12 N, 145 45 E

Natural resources:
arable land, fish

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Agrihan 965 m

southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic

Geography - note:
strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean

total: 477 sq km
land: 477 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian

Oceania, islands in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines

1,482 km

Area - comparative:
2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
contamination of groundwater on Saipan may contribute to disease; clean-up of landfill; protection of endangered species conflicts with development

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)

Land use:
arable land: 13.04%
permanent crops: 4.35%
other: 82.61% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.18 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.68 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.06 male(s)/female
total population: 0.75 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.5 years
male: 73.89 years
female: 79.26 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 96% (1980 est.)

Net migration rate:
7.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Asian 56.3%, Pacific islander 36.3%, Caucasian 1.8%, other 0.8%, mixed 4.8% (2000 census)

Median age:
total: 29.9 years
male: 32 years
female: 28.9 years (2008 est.)

86,616 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:

Population growth rate:
2.377% (2008 est.)

Philippine languages 24.4%, Chinese 23.4%, Chamorro 22.4%, English 10.8%, other Pacific island languages 9.5%, other 9.6% (2000 census)

Death rate:
2.31 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Age structure:
0-14 years: 18.4% (male 8,342/female 7,594)
15-64 years: 79.9% (male 27,996/female 41,245)
65 years and over: 1.7% (male 740/female 699) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
19.04 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)

noun: NA (US citizens)
adjective: NA

  Government Back To Top

National holiday:
Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)

18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Government type:
commonwealth; self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature

Political pressure groups and leaders:

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

International organization participation:

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 (20 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 3 November 2007 (next to be held in November 2009); House of Representatives - last held 3 November 2007 (next to be held in November 2009)
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 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2010); seats by party - independent 1

Legal system:
based on US system, except for customs, wages, immigration laws, and taxation

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

none (commonwealth in political union with the US)

Country name (Goverment):
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

Political parties and leaders:
Covenant Party [Benigno R. FITIAL]; Democratic Party [Dr. Carlos S. CAMACHO]; Republican Party [Juan S. REYES]

name: Saipan
geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands effective 1 January 1978; Covenant Agreement fully effective 4 November 1986

Executive branch:
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 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 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 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 5 November 2005 (next to be held in November 2009)
election results: Benigno R. FITIAL elected governor in a four-way race; percent of vote - Benigno R. FITIAL 28.07%, Heinz HOFSCHNEIDER 27.34%, Juan BABAUTA 26.6%, Froilan TENORIO 17.99%

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

Judicial branch:
Commonwealth Supreme Court; Superior Court; Federal District Court

  Economy Back To Top

Electricity - consumption:
NA kWh

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Debt - external:

Unemployment rate:
3.9% (2001)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$12,500 (2000 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$900 million
note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy (2000 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$633.4 million (2000)

Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used

GDP - real growth rate:

Labor force:
44,470 total indigenous labor force; 2,699 unemployed; 28,717 foreign workers (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.8% (2000)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%


Currency (code):
US dollar (USD)

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.

Imports - commodities:
food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products

tourism, construction, garments, handicrafts

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Electricity - production:
NA kWh

$214.4 million (2001)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:

Economic aid - recipient:
extensive funding from US

revenues: $193 million
expenditures: $223 million (FY01/02 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
10,000 (2003)

Telephones - main lines in use:
21,000 (2000)


Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 6, shortwave 1 (2005)


Telephones - mobile cellular:
20,500 (2004)

Television broadcast stations:
1 (on Saipan; in addition, 2 cable services on Saipan provide varied programming from satellite networks) (2006)

Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 1-670; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2001)

Internet hosts:
6 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
Saipan, Tinian

1 (2007)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)

total: 536 km (2007)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)

5 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 572
female: 594 (2008 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

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