[Country map of Northern Mariana Islands]

Northern Mariana Islands

(commonwealth in political union with the US)


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

Map references: Oceania

total area: 477 sq km
land area: 477 sq km
comparative area: slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
note: includes 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,482 km

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

International disputes: none

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 level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic; highest elevation is 471 m (Mt. Okso' Takpochao on Saipan)

Natural resources: arable land, fish

Land use:
arable land: 5% on Saipan
permanent crops: NA%
meadows and pastures: 19%
forest and woodland: NA%
other: NA%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: contamination of groundwater on Saipan by raw sewage contributes to disease
natural hazards: active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November)
international agreements: NA

Note: strategic location in the North Pacific Ocean


Population: 51,033 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Population growth rate: 3.04% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 33.05 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 4.61 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 37.96 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.43 years
male: 65.53 years
female: 69.48 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.69 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: NA
adjective: NA

Ethnic divisions: Chamorro, Carolinians and other Micronesians, Caucasian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean

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

Languages: English, Chamorro, Carolinian
note: 86% of population speaks a language other than English at home

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

Labor force: 7,476 total indigenous labor force, 2,699 unemployed; 21,188 foreign workers (1990)
by occupation: NA


conventional long form: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
conventional short form: Northern Mariana Islands

Digraph: CQ

Type: commonwealth in political union with the US; self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature; federal funds to the Commonwealth administered by the US Department of the Interior, Office of Territorial and International Affairs

Capital: Saipan

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: none (commonwealth in political union with the US)

National holiday: Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)

Constitution: Covenant Agreement effective 3 November 1986 and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

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

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

Executive branch:
chief of state: President William Jefferson CLINTON (since 20 January 1993); Vice President Albert GORE, Jr. (since 20 January 1993)
head of government: Governor Froilan C. TENORIO (since January 1994); Lieutenant Governor Jesus C. BORJA (since January 1994); election last held in NA November 1993 (next to be held NA November 1997); results - Froilan C. TENORIO (Democrat) was elected governor with 56% of the vote

Legislative branch: bicameral Legislature
Senate: elections last held NA November 1993 (next to be held NA November 1995); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (9 total) Republicans retained a majority of the seats
House of Representatives: elections last held NA November 1993 (next to be held NA November 1995); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (18 total) Republicans retained a majority of the seats
US House of Representatives: the Commonwealth does not have a nonvoting delegate in Congress; instead, it has an elected official "resident representative" located in Washington, DC; seats - (1 total) Juan N. BABAUTA (Republican)

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

Political parties and leaders: Republican Party, Benigno R. FITIAL, Leader; Democratic Party, Dr. Carlos S. CAMACHO, Chairman

Member of: ESCAP (associate), INTERPOL (subbureau), SPC

Flag: 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


Overview: The economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. The rate of funding has declined as locally generated government revenues have grown. An agreement for the years 1986 to 1992 entitled the islands to $228 million for capital development, government operations, and special programs. A rapidly growing major source of income is the tourist industry, which now employs about 50% of the work force. Japanese tourists predominate. The agricultural sector is of minor importance and is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. Industry is small scale, mostly handicrafts, light manufacturing, and garment production.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $524 million (1994 est.)
note: GDP numbers reflect US spending

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $10,500 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.5% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $190.4 million
expenditures: $190.4 million, including capital expenditures of $19.1 million (FY94/95)

Exports: $263.4 million (f.o.b. 1991 est.)
commodities: garments
partners: NA

Imports: $392.4 million (c.i.f. 1991 est.)
commodities: food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products
partners: US, Japan

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

capacity: 105,000 kW
production: NA kWh
consumption per capita: NA kWh

Industries: tourism, construction, light industry, handicrafts

Agriculture: coconuts, fruits, cattle, vegetables; food is a major import

Economic aid: none

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September


Railroads: 0 km

total: 381.5 km
paved: NA
unpaved: NA
undifferentiated: primary 134.5 km; secondary 55 km; local 192 km (1991)

Inland waterways: none

Ports: Saipan, Tinian

Merchant marine: none

total: 8
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
with paved runways under 914 m: 3
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1


Telephone system: NA telephones
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 2 INTELSAT (Pacific Ocean) earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 1, shortwave 0 (1984)
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1; note - there are 2 cable TV stations
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US