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Northern Mariana Islands

(commonwealth in political union with the US)


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Introduction

Background: 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

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

Map references: Oceania

Area
  total: 477 sq km
  land: 477 sq km
  water: 0 sq km (Note: includes 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
  exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 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 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: 21%
  permanent crops: 0%
  permanent pastures: 19%
  forests and woodland: 0%
  other: 60%

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

Population: 71,912 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 24% (male 8,652; female 8,377)
  15-64 years: 75% (male 25,441; female 28,233)
  65 years and over: 1% (male 591; female 618) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.75% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 20.86 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 2.41 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 19.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
  total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 5.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 75.54 years
  male: 72.45 years
  female: 78.82 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: NA
  adjective: NA

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

Government

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

Data code: CQ

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

Capital: Saipan

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

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

National holiday: Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)

Constitution: 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

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 of the US (since 20 January 1993); Vice President Albert GORE, Jr. (since 20 January 1993)
  head of government: Governor Pedro P. TENORIO (since NA January 1998) and Lieutenant Governor Jesus R. SABLAN (since NA January 1998)
  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 in NA November 1997 (next to be held NA November 2001)
  election results: Pedro P. TENORIO elected governor in a three-way race; percent of vote - Pedro P. TENORIO (Republican Party) 47%

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)
  elections: Senate - last held NA November 1997 (next to be held NA November 1999); House of Representatives - last held NA November 1997 (next to be held NA November 1999)
  election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 8, Democratic Party 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 13, Democratic Party 5 (Note: the Commonwealth 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 (Juan N. BABAUTA))

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

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party [chairman (currently vacant)]; Republican Party [Benigno R. FITIAL]

International organization participation: ESCAP (associate), Interpol (subbureau), SPC

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

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. An agreement for the years 1986 to 1992 entitled the islands to $228 million for capital development, government operations, and special programs. Since 1992, funding has been extended one year at a time. The commonwealth received $27.7 million from FY93/94 through FY95/96. For FY96/97 through FY02/03, funding of $11 million will be provided for infrastructure, with an equal local match. A rapidly growing chief 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. Garment production is the fastest growing industry with employment of 12,000 mostly Chinese workers and shipments of $1 billion to the US in 1998 under duty and quota exemptions.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $524 million (1996 est.) (Note: GDP numbers reflect US spending)

GDP - real growth rate: NA%

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $9,300 (1996 est.)

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

Population below poverty line: NA%

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

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

Labor force: 6,006 total indigenous labor force; 2,699 unemployed; 28,717 foreign workers (1995)

Labor force - by occupation: managerial 20.5%, technical, sales 16.4%, services 19.3%, farming 3.1%, precision production 13.8%, operators, fabricators 26.9%

Unemployment rate: 14% (residents)

Budget
  revenues: $221 million
  expenditures: $213 million, including capital expenditures of $17.7 million (1996)

Industries: tourism, construction, garments, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: NA kWh

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 100%
  hydro: 0%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0%

Electricity - consumption: NA kWh

Electricity - exports: NA kWh

Electricity - imports: NA kWh

Agriculture - products: coconuts, fruits, vegetables; cattle

Exports: $1 billion (1998)

Exports - commodities: garments

Exports - partners: US

Imports: $NA

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

Imports - partners: US, Japan

Debt - external: $NA

Economic aid - recipient: $21.1 million (1995)

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

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 15,000 (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 1,200 (1995)

Telephone system
  domestic: NA
  international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 3, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios: NA

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)

Televisions: NA

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA

Transportation

Railways: 0 km

Highways
  total: 362 km (1991 est.)
  paved: NA km
  unpaved: NA km

Waterways: none

Ports and harbors: Saipan, Tinian

Merchant marine: none (1999 est.)

Airports: 6 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 3
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 3
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
  under 914 m: 2 (1999 est.)

Heliports: 1 (1999 est.)

Military

Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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Site Version 1.75 - Last updated December 20, 2006

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