Mariana Islands

The Mariana Islands (/ˌmæriˈɑːnə/; also the Marianas) are a crescent-shaped archipelago comprising the summits of fifteen mostly dormant volcanic mountains in the western North Pacific Ocean, between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east. They lie south-southeast of Japan, west-southwest of Hawaii, north of New Guinea and east of the Philippines, demarcating the Philippine Sea's eastern limit. They are found in the northern part of the western Oceanic sub-region of Micronesia, and are politically divided into two jurisdictions of the United States: the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and, at the southern end of the chain, the territory of Guam. The islands were named after the influential Spanish queen Mariana of Austria.

Spaniards, who in the early 16th century were the first Europeans to arrive, eventually annexed and colonized the archipelago. Magellan was the first to do so, and having found the natives to be such eager thieves, named it the Islas of Ladrones. These were the first islands Magellan found after crossing the pacific and the fruits found here saved the crew. The indigenous inhabitants are the Chamorro people. Archaeologists in 2013 reported findings which indicated that the people who first settled the Marianas arrived there after making what was at the time the longest uninterrupted ocean voyage in human history. They further reported findings which suggested that Tinian is likely to have been the first island in Oceania to have been settled by humans.[1]

Mariana Islands
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates16°37′N 145°37′E / 16.617°N 145.617°ECoordinates: 16°37′N 145°37′E / 16.617°N 145.617°E
Map Mariana Islands volcanoes
The Mariana Islands are shown, with the territory of Guam to the extreme south, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (14 islands) to the north. Active volcanoes are shown with triangles


Philippine Sea location
Geology of the west Pacific in the area of the Mariana Islands. The Mariana Islands are at map-right, east of the Philippine Sea and just west of the Mariana Trench in the ocean floor.

The Mariana Islands are the southern part of a submerged mountain range that extends 1,565 miles (2,519 km) from Guam to near Japan. Geographically, the Marianas are the northernmost islands of a larger island group called Micronesia, situated between 13° and 21°N latitude and 144° and 146°E longitude.

The Mariana Islands have a total land area of 1,005 km2 (388 sq mi).[2] They are composed of two administrative units:

The island chain geographically consists of two subgroups, a northern group of ten volcanic main islands, all are currently uninhabited; and a southern group of five coralline limestone islands (Rota, Guam, Aguijan, Tinian and Saipan), all inhabited except Aguijan. In the northern volcanic group a maximum elevation of about 2,700 feet (820 m) is reached; there are craters showing signs of activity, and earthquakes are not uncommon. Coral reefs fringe the coasts of the southern isles, which are of slight elevation.

The lowest point on the Earth's crust, the Mariana Trench, is near the islands and is named after them.

The islands are part of a geologic structure known as the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc system, and range in age from 5 million years old in the north to 30 million years old in the south (Guam). The island chain arose as a result of the western edge of the Pacific Plate moving westward and plunging downward below the Mariana plate, a region which is the most volcanically active convergent plate boundary on Earth. This subduction region, just east of the island chain, forms the noted Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Earth's oceans and lowest part of the surface of the Earth's crust. In this region, according to geologic theory, water trapped in the extensive faulting of the Pacific Plate as serpentinite, is heated by the higher temperatures of depth during its subduction, the pressure from the expanding steam results in the hydrothermal activity in the area and the volcanic activity which formed the Mariana Islands.[3]

All the islands, except Farallon de Medinilla and Uracas or Farallon de Pajaros (in the northern group), are more or less densely wooded, and the vegetation is dense, much resembling that of the Carolines and also of the Philippines, from where species of plants have been introduced. Owing to the moistness of the soil cryptogams are numerous, as are also most kinds of grasses. On most of the islands there is a plentiful supply of water.

The fauna of the Marianas, though inferior in number and variety, is similar in character to that of the Carolines and certain species are indigenous to both island groups. The climate though damp is healthy, while the heat, being tempered by the trade winds, is milder than that of the Philippines; the variations of temperature are not great.

The majority of islands in the Marianas still retain their indigenous names end in the letters -an; e.g. Guahan (the indigenous name of Guam), Agrigan, Agrihan, Aguihan/Aguigan, Pagan, Sarigan, etc.



Guma Taga ruins, pre-1902
Ruins of Guma Taga on Tinian. The pillars/columns are called latte (pronounced læ'di) stones, a common architectural element of prehistoric structures in the Mariana Islands, upon which elevated buildings were built. Earthquakes had toppled the other latte at this site by the time this photo was taken; an earthquake in 1902 toppled the one seen on the left, and today only the one on the right remains standing.

The islands are part of a geologic structure known as the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc system and range in age from 5 million years old in the north to 30 million years old in the south (Guam). The islands are formed as the highly dense and very old western edge of the Pacific plate plunges downward to form the floor of the Mariana Trench and carries trapped water under the Mariana plate as it does so. This water is super-heated as the plate is carried farther downward and results in the volcanic activity which has formed the arc of Mariana Islands above this subduction region.

Archeological studies of human activity on the islands has revealed potteries with red-slipped, circle- and punctate-stamped designs found in the Mariana Islands dating between 1500 and 1400 BC. These artifacts show similar aesthetics to pottery found in Northern and Central Philippines, the Nagsabaran (Cagayan valley) pottery, which flourished during the period between 2000 and 1300 BC.[4]

Spanish exploration and control

The first Europeans to see the island group were a Spanish expedition, who on March 6, 1521, observed a string of islands and sailed between two of them during a Spanish expedition of world circumnavigation. Historically, the southern village of Umatac, Guam has been credited as the site of the Spanish landing, however, scholarly study of the navigator's diary, now kept in preservation in the Philippines, revealed a drawing of the islands with a tiny island to the south of a much larger island above it. The described placement of the islands made it much more likely that Magellan had actually sailed between Guam and Cocos Island, and not Guam and Rota, as originally thought. This discovery meant that Magellan could not have landed in Umatac, but more likely in a northern location like Tanguisson or Tumon Bay.

Regardless of where they landed, Spanish ships arrived in Guam and were unable to get fresh food as the inhabitants, Chamorros, "entered the ships and stole whatever they could lay their hands on", including "the small boat that was fastened to the poop of the flagship."[5]:129 The Spanish crew, however, considered this theft and in retaliation attacked the Chamorros and dubbed the islands Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of the Thieves). "Those people are poor, but ingenious and very thievish, on account of which we called those three islands the islands of Ladrones."[5]:131 Pigafetta writes,

And the captain-general wished to approach the largest of these three islands to replenish his provisions. But it was not possible, for the people of those islands entered the ships and robbed us so that we could not protect ourselves from them. And when we wished to strike and take in the sails so as to land, they stole very quickly the small boat called a skiff which was fastened to the poop of the captain's ship. At which he, being very angry, went ashore with forty armed men. And burning some forty or fifty houses with several boats and killing seven men of the said island, they recovered their skiff.

The islands are still occasionally called the Ladrones, usually ironically by natives, or disparagingly by non-natives. Pigafetta also described the boats the inhabitants used, the sail shaped like a "lateen sail", hence the name Islas de las Velas Latinas (Islands of the Lateen Sails),[5]:131 the name used first as Magellan claimed them for the Spanish crown. San Lazarus archipelago, Jardines ('gardens') and Prazeres are among the names applied to them by later navigators.

Estampilla española de las Islas Marianas 5 cent 1898-99
A stamp from the Marianas' late Spanish colonial period, 1898–1899

In 1667, Spain formally claimed them, established a regular colony there and gave the islands the official title of Las Marianas, in honor of Spanish Queen Mariana of Austria, widow of Philip IV of Spain. They then had a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants. With the arrival of passengers and settlers aboard the Manila Galleons from the Americas, new diseases were introduced in the islands, which caused many deaths in the native Chamorro population.[6] The native population, who referred to themselves as Taotao Tano (people of the land)[7] but were known to the early Spanish colonists as Hachamori [8] has died out as a distinct people, though their descendants intermarried. At the Spanish occupation in 1668, the Chamorros were estimated at 50,000, but a century later only 1,800 natives remained, as the majority of the population was of mixed Spanish-Chamorro blood or mestizo. They were characteristic Micronesians, with a considerable civilization. In the island of Tinian are some remarkable remains attributed to them, consisting of two rows of massive square stone columns, about 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) broad and 14 feet (4.3 m) high, with heavy-round capitals called latte stones. According to early Spanish accounts cinerary urns were found embedded in the capitals.

When Spanish settlement started on 14 June 1668, they were subordinate to the Mexican colony (soon viceroyalty) of New Spain, until 1817, when they became subordinated to the Philippines, like the bulk of the Spanish East Indies.

Research in the archipelago was carried out by Commodore Anson, who in August 1742 landed upon the island of Tinian.[9] The Ladrones were visited by Byron in 1765, Wallis in 1767 and Crozet in 1772.

The Marianas and specifically the island of Guam were a stopover for Spanish galleons en route from Acapulco, Mexico to Manila, Philippines in a convoy known as the Galeon de Manila. Following the 1872 Cavite mutiny, several Filipinos were exiled to Guam, including the father of Pedro Paterno, Maximo Paterno, Dr. Antonio M. Regidor y Jurado and Jose Maria Basa.[10]:107–108

Loss from Spain and split in governance

Stamp Mariana Islands 1901 20pf
A 1901 stamp from the German-era Marianas

The Marianas remained a Spanish colony under the general government of the Philippines until 1898, when, as a result of its loss in the Spanish–American War, Spain ceded Guam to the United States. Guam has retained a different political character from the Northern Marianas since this time. Following the Philippine–American War, Apolinario Mabini and other Filipino leaders were exiled to Guam in 1901.[11]:vi

Weakened from its defeat in the Spanish–American War, Spain could no longer effectively control and protect the nearly 6,000 islands it retained throughout Micronesia, including the Northern Marianas, Carolines and Pelew Islands. Therefore, Spain entered into the German-Spanish Treaty of February 12, 1899 to sell the Northern Marianas and its other remaining islands to Germany for 837,500 German gold marks (about $4,100,000 at the time). The Northern Marianas and other island groups were incorporated by Germany as a small part of the larger German Protectorate of New Guinea. The total population in the Northern Marianas portion of these islands was only 2,646 inhabitants around this time, with the ten most northerly islands being actively volcanic and thus mostly uninhabited.

Japan, allied with the Entente Powers during World War I, seized all of Germany's colonial possessions in East Asia and Micronesia, including the Northern Mariana Islands, and held them through the end of the War. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Germany was stripped of all her colonies worldwide, including the Palau, Caroline, Northern Mariana and Marshall Islands. By international agreement, these were all placed into trusteeship under the management of League of Nations which assigned them to Japan as the Class C South Pacific Mandate or Nanyo. During this time, Japan used some of the islands for sugarcane production, modestly increasing the population of a few of the islands.

World War II

A U.S. Marine talks a terrified Chamorro woman and her children into abandoning their refuge. Battle of Saipan, 1944.

The island chain saw significant fighting during World War II. Guam, a possession of the United States since 1898, was captured by Japan in an attack from the Northern Mariana Islands that began on the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 8, 1941, the same time as the Pearl Harbor attack across the international dateline). In 1944, the United States captured the Mariana Islands chain from Japan: the Northern Mariana Islands were desired by the U.S. as bombing bases to reach the Japanese mainland, with the invasion of Saipan being launched for that reason in June before the U.S. even moved to recapture Guam; a month later the U.S. recaptured Guam and captured Tinian. Once captured, the islands of Saipan and Tinian were used extensively by the United States military as they finally put mainland Japan within round-trip range of American B-29 bombers. In response, Japanese forces attacked the bases on Saipan and Tinian from November 1944 to January 1945. At the same time and afterwards, the United States Army Air Forces based out of these islands conducted an intense strategic bombing campaign against the Japanese cities of military and industrial importance, including Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe and others. Both the Enola Gay and the Bockscar (which dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively) flew their missions from Tinian's North Field.

According to Werner Gruhl: "Mariana Island historians estimate that 10 percent of Guam's some 20,000 population were killed by violence, most by the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy."[12]

Post World War II

The direct result of World War II on the Mariana Islands was that, after the war, the Northern Mariana Islands came under control of the United States in the same way they had earlier come under the control of Japan after World War I. However, this time they became part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 21. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands later became a U.S. territory following its exit from the TTPI pursuant to Security Council Resolution 683. Although now both under U.S. control, the Northern Mariana Islands have not reunited with the territory of Guam, in part due to residual post-war tensions resulting from the very different histories of Guam (occupied by Japan for only 31 months, in wartime) and the Northern Mariana Islands (more peacefully occupied by Japan, for about 30 years). See the main articles above for discussion of present-day politics in these territorial areas.

List of islands

Island name Population Municipality or territory
Guam 159,358 Guam
Saipan 48,220 Saipan
Tinian 3,136 Tinian
Rota 2,477 Rota
Aguigan 0 Tinian
Farallon de Pajaros 0 Northern Islands
Maug Islands 0 Northern Islands
Asuncion 0 Northern Islands
Agrihan 0 Northern Islands
Pagan 0 Northern Islands
Alamagan 0 Northern Islands
Guguan 0 Northern Islands
Papaungan 0 Northern Islands
Sarigan 0 Northern Islands
Anatahan 0 Northern Islands
Farallon de Medinilla 0 Northern Islands


Tourism in the Northern Marianas is split mainly between Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese tourists. There are several large tour operators in Saipan that cater to Asian tourists coming into the island. By far, the majority of tourism in the Northern Marianas is in Saipan. Several flights a day land in Saipan, mostly in the early hours between 1:00 AM and 3:30 AM. With the close of the garment industries in the Northern Marianas, tourism has grown slowly and is now a major part of the economy of the CNMI.[13]

Amateur radio operators conduct DXpeditions to the Islands at intervals.


Chamorro red rice
Chamorro red rice

Common dishes in the Mariana Islands include red rice, meat or poultry on the grill or in coconut milk, chicken kelaguen, apigigi (young coconut with cassava paste wrapped in banana leaf),[14] and tropical fruits.

See also



  1. ^ Zotomayor, Alexie Villegas (11 Mar 2013). "Archaeologist says migration to Marianas longest ocean-crossing in human history". Marianas Variety.
  2. ^ The CIA World Factbook (2006).
  3. ^ "Pacific Ocean - Geology of Mariana Islands". 23 December 2010. Archived from the original on 23 December 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Nath. "Epic voyage and potteries: an ancient connection between the Philippines and the Marianas | Imprints of Philippine Science". Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  5. ^ a b c Nowell, C.E., 1962, Magellan's Voyage Around the World, Antonio Pigafetta's account, Evanston: NorthwesternUniversity Press
  6. ^ Tucker, Spencer (2009). The encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars: a political, social, and military history. ABC-CLIO. p. 379. ISBN 1-85109-951-4.
  7. ^ Warheit, Vanessa "The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands." PBS (documentary). Accessed June 2012.
  8. ^
  9. ^ George, Lord Anion (1748). Voyage round the World, book iii.
  10. ^ Foreman, J., 1906, The Philippine Islands, A Political, Geographical, Ethnographical, Social, and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  11. ^ Mabini, A., 1969, The Philippine Revolution, Republic of the Philippines, Dept. of Education, National Historical Commission.
  12. ^ Werner Gruhl, Imperial Japan's World War Two, 1931–1945, Transaction Publishers, 2007 ISBN 978-0-7658-0352-8
  13. ^ eye-witness
  14. ^ "Apigigi’ or Sweet Tamales" (Aug. 10, 2013) Annie's Chamorro Kitchen


Encyclopedic sources

External links

2010 United States House of Representatives election in the Northern Mariana Islands

The 2010 Congressional election in the Northern Mariana Islands occurred on November 2, 2010 and elected the territory's Delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Representatives and non-voting Delegates are elected for two-year terms; the elected will serve in the 112th Congress from January 3, 2011 until January 3, 2013.

These elections were held concurrently with the United States Senate elections of 2010, the United States House elections in other states and territories, and various territorial and local elections.

2016 United States presidential election in the Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands did not participate in the November 8, 2016 general election for President of the United States, because it is a territory and not a state. However, the five non-incorporated territories that send delegates to the House of Representatives participated in the presidential primaries of both major parties.

In the presidential primaries, voters expressed their preferences for the Democratic and Republican parties' respective nominees for president. Registered members of each party only voted in their party's primary, while voters who were unaffiliated chose any one primary in which to vote. The caucuses were held in March 2016.

Arnold Palacios

Arnold Indalecio Palacios (born August 22, 1955) is a Northern Mariana Islands politician and a member of the Republican Party, the 12th and current lieutenant governor of the Northern Mariana Islands since 2019. He previously represented Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands Senate.

Palacios is a former Speaker of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives. He was sworn in on January 14, 2008, as the Speaker of the House's 16th Legislature. He represented Election District 3 in the House, which encompasses portions of Saipan and the Northern Islands.Palacios was the running mate of four-time gubernatorial candidate Heinz Hofschneider in the 2009 election. If elected, Palacios would have become the Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands in 2010. Instead, he was elected in 2018 with incumbent Governor Ralph Torres to begin a term in January 2019.

Palacios is married to Wella Sablan Palacios and they have four children - Arnold Gerard, Nicole, Tiana and Eric. Palacios graduated from Portland State University.

Chugai' Pictograph Site

The Chugai' Pictograph Site is a prehistoric rock art site on the island of Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands. The rock art is located in a limestone cave on the southeastern side of the island, in the I'Chenchon Bird Sanctuary. It consists of a large panel, 185 feet (56 m) in length, of about 90 painted drawings, believed to be of late pre-contact origin. The site is accessed via a trail cut by the Japanese during the South Pacific Mandate period.The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands

The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands (in case citations, D. N. Mar. I.) is a federal territorial court whose jurisdiction comprises the United States-affiliated Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). It was established by Act of Congress in 1977, pursuant to an international agreement between the United States and the CNMI that brought the CNMI under United States sovereignty. The court began hearing cases in January 1978. The court regularly sits in Saipan but may sit elsewhere in the CNMI. The court has the same jurisdiction as United States District Courts, including diversity jurisdiction and bankruptcy jurisdiction. However, the District Court is not actually a true (i.e., Article III) U.S. District Court, and because of that its judge is appointed for a 10-year term instead of for life. Appeals are taken to the Ninth Circuit.

Like most federal judges, judges in this court are appointed by the President, subject to Senate confirmation. Judges may serve more than one term, subject to the standard nominating process.

The United States is represented in civil and criminal litigation in the court by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The first District Judge appointed was Alfred Laureta, who served from 1978 until 1988. His successor, Alex R. Munson, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and confirmed by the Senate in 1988. Munson was nominated for a second ten-year term by President Bill Clinton and was confirmed by the Senate in 1998. He took senior status effective February 28, 2010. On January 26, 2011, President Obama nominated Ramona Villagomez Manglona to be Judge for the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands for a term of ten years. The U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination by voice vote on July 26, 2011 and she received her commission on July 29, 2011. Her term will end on July 28, 2021.

The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands was established by Pub. L. 95-157, 91 Stat. 1265 (Nov. 8, 1977), and is codified at 48 U.S.C. § 1821, a nonpositive law title.

Education in the Northern Mariana Islands

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System operates public schools in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has a self-governing government consisting of a locally elected governor, Lieutenant Governor and the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature.Incumbent Governor Eloy S. Inos died on December 28, 2015 (local time in Seattle). According to Article III Section 7 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, "In case of the removal, death, or resignation of the governor, the lieutenant governor shall become governor and the president of the senate shall become lieutenant governor." Lieutenant Governor Ralph Torres became the governor, and President of the Senate Victor B. Hocog became lieutenant governor on December 28, 2015.

List of governors of the Northern Mariana Islands

The following is a list of persons who served as Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands. The term of office is 4 years. The longest-serving governor in CNMI history is Pedro Tenorio, who served 12 years in office from 1982 to 1990 and again from 1998 to 2002.

Mariana and Palau Islands campaign

The Mariana and Palau Islands campaign, also known as Operation Forager, was an offensive launched by United States forces against Imperial Japanese forces in the Mariana Islands and Palau in the Pacific Ocean between June and November 1944 during the Pacific War. The United States offensive, under the overall command of Chester Nimitz, followed the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign and was intended to neutralize Japanese bases in the central Pacific, support the Allied drive to retake the Philippines, and provide bases for a strategic bombing campaign against Japan.

Beginning the offensive, United States Marine Corps and United States Army forces, with support from the United States Navy, executed landings on Saipan in June 1944. In response, the Imperial Japanese Navy's combined fleet sortied to attack the U.S. Navy fleet supporting the landings. In the resulting aircraft carrier Battle of the Philippine Sea (the so-called “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”) on 19–20 June, the Japanese naval forces were decisively defeated with heavy and irreplaceable losses to their carrier-borne and land-based aircraft.

U.S. forces executed landings on Guam and Tinian in July 1944. After heavy fighting, Saipan was secured in July and Guam and Tinian in August 1944. The U.S. then constructed airfields on Saipan and Tinian where B-29s were based to conduct strategic bombing missions against the Japanese mainland until the end of World War II, including the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the meantime, in order to secure the flank for U.S. forces preparing to attack Japanese forces in the Philippines, in September 1944, U.S. Marine and Army forces landed on the islands of Peleliu and Angaur in Palau. After heavy and intense combat on Peleliu, the island was finally secured by U.S. forces in November 1944.

Following their landings in the Mariana and Palau Islands, Allied forces continued their ultimately successful campaign against Japan by landing in the Philippines in October 1944 and the Volcano and Ryukyu Islands beginning in January 1945.

Music of the Northern Mariana Islands

The music of the Northern Mariana Islands is dominated by the folk music of the Chamorros, which remains an important part of the islands' culture, though elements of music left by American, German, Spanish and Japanese colonizers are also in evidence. There are both Carolinian and Chamorro traditional chant styles. A variant of the Spanish cha-cha-chá is popular, as is a Carolinian "stick dance" which combines improvised percussion and foot stomping. A well-known stick dance group is the Talabwog Men Stick Dancers.

The national anthem of the Northern Mariana Islands is "Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi" (in Chamorro, "Satil Matawal Pacifico" in Carolinian), which was adopted on October 1996. The song's melody comes from a German tune, "Im Schoensten Wiesengrunde".Music festivals in the Northern Mariana Islands include the Fiestan Luta, an annual celebration.

National Register of Historic Places listings in the Northern Mariana Islands

This is a list of the buildings, sites, districts, and objects listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the Northern Mariana Islands. There currently 37 listed sites spread across the four municipalities of the Northern Mariana Islands. There are no sites listed on any of the islands that make up the Northern Islands Municipality.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted June 7, 2019.

Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; Chamorro: Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; Refaluwasch or Carolinian: Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an insular area and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 14 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago except the southernmost island of the chain, Guam, which is a separate U.S. territory. The CNMI and Guam are the westernmost point (in terms of jurisdiction) and territory of the United States.

The United States Department of the Interior cites a landmass of 183.5 square miles (475.26 km2). According to the 2010 United States Census, 53,883 people were living in the CNMI at that time. The vast majority of the population resides on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The other islands of the Northern Marianas are sparsely inhabited; the most notable among these is Pågan, which for various reasons over the centuries has experienced major population flux, but formerly had residents numbering in the thousands.The administrative center is Capitol Hill, a village in northwestern Saipan. However, most publications consider Saipan to be the capital because the island is governed as a single municipality.

Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature

The Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature is the territorial legislature of the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The legislative branch of the territory is bicameral, consisting of a 20-member lower House of Representatives, and an upper house Senate with nine Senators. Representatives serve two-year terms and Senators serve four-year terms, both without term limits. The territorial legislature meets in the commonwealth capital of Saipan.

Similar to the United States Congress, the Senate seats are divided into three districts (three seats each) whose boundaries are identical to those of the municipalities (except that the barely inhabited Northern Islands is incorporated with Saipan). The Constitution provides for the creation of a fourth district for the Northern Islands when the population exceeds 1,000. The Senate seats are divided into two classes, similar to the classes of Senators in the United States, with one class consisting of a single Senator from each district, and the second class consisting of two Senators from each district. In the first election after the ratification of the Constitution, the Senator with the third-highest number of votes held their seat for two years. Requirements for Senator are a minimum age of 25, residence in the Commonwealth for five years, and a registered voter in the district represented. The Constitution permits a higher residence requirement to be legislated.

The House seats are elected from seven districts. Two districts have one seat each, one for Rota and Aguijan and the other for Tinian. The remaining five districts elect multiple members, three with two members, and two with six members, and are all located on Saipan, with one also including the Northern Islands. The Constitution provides for the Northern Islands to be a separate district when the population exceeds the number of people represented by any Representative. Reapportionment occurs every 10 years following the census. Requirements for Representative are a minimum age of 21, residence in the Commonwealth for three years, and a registered voter in the district represented. As with the Senate, the Constitution permits the Legislature to enact a higher residence requirement.

The Legislature also has a youth congress, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Youth Congress.

Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives

The Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives is the lower house of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature.

In the 2007 election cycle, the CNMI House membership was increased from 18 to 20. Representatives serve two-year terms and are elected from seven election districts:

District 1: Saipan (6 seats)

District 2: Saipan (2 seats)

District 3: Saipan & the Northern Islands (6 seats)

District 4: Saipan (2 seats)

District 5: Saipan (2 seats)

District 6: Tinian (1 seat)

District 7: Rota & Aguiguan (1 seat)In the November 2007 general election, which elected the 16th House, Republicans won a majority (12 seats) and took control of the House in January 2008.

Northern Mariana Islands Senate

The is the upper house of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. The Senate consists of nine senators representing three senatorial districts (Saipan & the Northern Islands, Tinian & Aguijan, and Rota), each a multi-member constituency with three senators.

In the November 2007 elections, the three senators up for re-election were all re-elected to another four-year term in the 16th and 17th Senate. The Covenant Party, which lost control of the House, entered into coalition with the Democrats and a lone Independent over the Senate's leadership and voting agenda.

The CNMI Senate was controlled in 2016 by a Republican majority under Senate President Franciso Borja.Maria Frica Pangelinan was the first woman to serve in the Senate.

Republican Party (Northern Mariana Islands)

The CNMI Republican Party is a political party in the Northern Mariana Islands. The Northern Mariana Islands Republican Party is now associated with the United States Republican Party though no Northern Mariana Islands politicians have achieved high-ranking positions in the mainland United States.


Saipan (, formerly in Spanish: Saipán) is the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. According to 2017 estimates by the United States Census Bureau, Saipan's population was 52,263.

The Commonwealth's center of government is located in the village of Capitol Hill on the island. Since the entire island is organized as a single municipality, most publications designate Saipan as the Commonwealth's capital.

As of June 12, 2015 the Mayor of Saipan is David M. Apatang.


Tinian ( or ) is one of the three principal islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Together with uninhabited neighboring Aguigan, it forms Tinian Municipality, one of the four constituent municipalities of the Northern Marianas. Tinian's largest village is San Jose.

United States congressional delegations from the Northern Mariana Islands

The United States congressional delegations from the Northern Mariana Islands consist of single Delegate elected at-large. The first non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives, Gregorio Sablan, was elected in 2008 and took office in 2009.

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