Northern Mariana Islands

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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.

Geography

Location

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

Area 197/257

total: 464 sq km

land: 464 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: consists of 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian

Area - comparative

2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km

Coastline

1,482 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

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

Terrain

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

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed elevation on Agrihan 965 m

Natural resources

arable land, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 6.6%

arable land 2.2%; permanent crops 2.2%; permanent pasture 2.2%

forest: 65.5%

other: 27.9% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

1 sq km (2012)

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 and Society

Nationality

noun: NA (US citizens)

adjective: NA

Ethnic groups

Asian 50% (includes Filipino 35.3%, Chinese 6.8%, Korean 4.2%, and other Asian 3.7%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 34.9% (includes Chamorro 23.9%, Carolinian 4.6%, and other Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 6.4%), other 2.5%, two or more ethnicities or races 12.7% (2010 est.)

Languages

Philippine languages 32.8%, Chamorro (official) 24.1%, English (official) 17%, other Pacific island languages 10.1%, Chinese 6.8%, other Asian languages 7.3%, other 1.9% (2010 est.)

Religions

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

Population 209/238

52,344 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.6% (male 6,917/female 6,483)

15-24 years: 14.39% (male 4,216/female 3,317)

25-54 years: 44.3% (male 9,802/female 13,385)

55-64 years: 10.76% (male 3,031/female 2,602)

65 years and over: 4.95% (male 1,240/female 1,351) (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 32.1 years

male: 29.6 years

female: 33 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 42/233

2.18% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 99/224

18.32 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 213/225

3.71 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 17/222

7.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 89.2% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.39% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

SAIPAN (capital) 49,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.27 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.73 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.17 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female

total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 172/224

total: 5.4 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 5.78 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 65/224

total population: 77.82 years

male: 75.15 years

female: 80.65 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 124/224

1.98 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 97.5% of population

rural: 97.5% of population

total: 97.5% of population

unimproved:

urban: 2.5% of population

rural: 2.5% of population

total: 2.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 79.7% of population

rural: 79.7% of population

total: 79.7% of population

unimproved:

urban: 20.3% of population

rural: 20.3% of population

total: 20.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Government

Country name

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

etymology: formally claimed and named by Spain in 1667 in honor of the Spanish Queen, MARIANA of Austria

Government type

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

Capital

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 4 municipalities at the second order: Northern Islands, Rota, Saipan, Tinian

Independence

none (commonwealth in political union with the US)

National holiday

Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)

Constitution

partially effective 9 January 1978 (Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); fully effective 4 November 1986 (Covenant Agreement); amended several times, last in 2012 (2015)

Legal system

US system applies, except for customs, wages, immigration laws, and taxation

Citizenship

see United States

Suffrage

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

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 Eloy S. INOS (since 20 February 2013); Lieutenant Governor Ralph TORRES (since 20 February 2013)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by an Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state; president and vice president serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); under the US Constitution, residents of the Northern Mariana Islands do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor directly elected by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed; election last held on 4 November 2014 with a runoff on 21 November 2014 (next to be held in 2018)

election results: Eloy S. INOS reelected governor; percent of vote in runoff - Eloy S. INOS (Republican) 57%, Heinz HOFSCHNEIDER (Republican) 43%; Ralph TORRES reelected lieutenant governor

note: Benigno R. FITIAL was impeached by House of Representatives on 11-12 February 2013 and resigned on 20 February 2013; Eloy INOS (Republican) sworn in as governor the same day

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Northern Mariana Commonwealth Legislature consists of the Senate (9 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms) and the House of Representatives (20 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on 8 November 2016); House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on 8 November 2016)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Covenant Party 3, Republican Party 3, Democratic Party 1, independent 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - independents 13, Republican Party 7

note: the Northern Mariana Islands directly elects 1 member by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term as a delegate to the US House of Representatives; the delegate can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the Committee of the Whole House, but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote; election of delegate last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on 8 November 2016)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands or CNMI (consists of the chief justice and 2 associate justices); US Federal District Court (consists of 1 judge); note - US Federal District Court jurisdiction limited to US federal laws; appeals beyond the Northern Mariannas Islands Supreme Court are referred to the US Supreme Court

judge selection and term of office: judges of the Supreme Court of the CNMI appointed by the governor and confirmed by the CNMI Senate; judges appointed for 8-year terms and can serve another term if approved through voter election; US Federal District Court judges appointed by the US president and confirmed by the US Senate; judges appointed for renewable 10-year terms

subordinate courts: Superior 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

NA

International organization participation

PIF (observer), SPC, UPU

Flag description

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

National symbol(s)

latte stone; national colors: blue, white

National anthem

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)

Economy

Economy - overview

The Northern Mariana Islands' economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. In fiscal year 2013, federal grants accounted for 35.4% of the Commonwealth’s total revenues. A small agriculture sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. The Commonwealth’s economy continued to recover in 2013. Real GDP increased 4.4%, following a 2.1% gain in 2012. Economic growth in 2013 reflected increases in consumer spending and exports of services, mainly spending by foreign tourists. Tourism continued to grow in 2013, after posting double-digit growth in 2012. The tourist industry employs approximately a quarter of the work force and accounts for roughly one-fourth of GDP. The Commonwealth is making a concerted effort to broaden its tourism by extending casino gambling from the small Islands of Tinian and Rota to the main Island of Saipan, it’s political and commercial center.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 208/230

$682 million (2013 est.)

$665 million (2012)

$649 million (2011)

note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.232 billion (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 51/225

4.5% (2013)

2.1% (2012)

-6.8% (2011)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 118/230

$13,300 (2013 est.)

$12,900 (2012)

$12,400 (2011)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 91.3%

government consumption: 51.5%

investment in fixed assets: 3.8%

exports of goods and services: 42.2%

imports of goods and services: 42.2% (2013)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.7%

industry: 2.9%

services: 95.4% (2012)

Agriculture - products

vegetables and melons, fruits and nuts; ornamental plants; livestock, poultry, eggs; fish and aquaculture products

Industries

tourism, banking, construction, fishing, handicrafts, other services

Industrial production growth rate

NA%

Labor force 206/233

27,970

note: includes foreign workers (2010 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.9%

industry: 10%

services: 88.1% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate 128/207

11.2% (2010 est.)

8% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line

NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Budget

revenues: $246.4 million

expenditures: $249.8 million (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 158/219

20% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 38/220

-0.3% of GDP (2013 est.)

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 2/226

-2.5% (2013 est.)

1.1% (2012)

Exports 182/224

$288 million (2013)

$268 million (2012)

Exports - commodities

garments

Imports 189/223

$606 million (2013)

$531 million (2012)

Imports - commodities

food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products

Debt - external

$NA

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Energy

Electricity - production 219/220

60,600 kWh (January 2009)

Electricity - consumption 219/219

48,300 kWh (January 2009)

Electricity - exports 125/218

0 kWh (January 2009 est.)

Electricity - imports 135/219

0 kWh (January 2009 est.)

Communications

Telephone system

international: country code - 1-670; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Broadcast media

1 TV broadcast station on Saipan; multi-channel cable TV services are available on Saipan; 9 licensed radio broadcast stations (2009)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 6, shortwave 1 (2005)

Television broadcast stations

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

Internet country code

.mp

Internet hosts 222/232

17 (2012)

Transportation

Airports 180/236

5 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 3

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Roadways 194/223

total: 536 km (2008)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Saipan, Tinian, Rota

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

none