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Northern Mariana Islands country facts

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Australia-Oceania Saipan 51,483 inhabitants 464 sq km 110.95 inhabitants/sq km the US dollar is used commonwealth in political union with the United States population evolution



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.



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 (sq km)

total: 464 sq km
land: 464 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: consists of 14 islands including Saipan, Rota, and Tinian

Area - comparative (sq km)

2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (km)

1,482 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


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


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

Elevation extremes (m)

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation on Agrihan 965 m

Natural resources

arable land, fish

Land use (%)

arable land: 2.17%
permanent crops: 2.17%
other: 95.65% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)

1 sq km (2011)

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


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)


51,483 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 25.9% (male 6,944/female 6,393)
15-24 years: 14.5% (male 4,133/female 3,348)
25-54 years: 44.9% (male 9,793/female 13,340)
55-64 years: 10% (male 2,798/female 2,372)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 1,122/female 1,240) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Northern Mariana Islands

Median age (years)

total: 31.6 years
male: 29.4 years
female: 32.2 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

1.13% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

18.94 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

3.61 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

-4.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 91.5% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.87% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

SAIPAN (capital) 56,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.23 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.73 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 5.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.88 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 77.64 years
male: 74.98 years
female: 80.46 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

2.01 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Drinking water source (% of population)

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 (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

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 (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Literacy (%)

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

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 (%)

total: 5.9%
male: 11.2%
female: 4.4% (2003)


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

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


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


none (commonwealth in political union with the US)

National holiday

Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)


partially effective 1 January 1978 (Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); fully effective 4 November 1986 (Covenant Agreement); amended several times, last in 2012 (2012)

Legal system

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


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 Jude U. HOFSCHNEIDER (since 20 February 2013)
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 party 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 on 7 November 2009 with a run-off election held on 23 November 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: Benigno R. FITIAL reelected governor in a run-off election held 23 November 2009; percent of vote - Benigno R. FITIAL 51.4%, Heinz HOFSCHNEIDER 48.6%
note: Benigno R. FITIAL was impeached by House of Representatives on 11-12 February 2013 and resigned on 20 February 2013; Eloy INOS was sworn in as governor the same day

Legislative branch

bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (9 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year staggered terms) and the House of Representatives (20 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2014); House of Representatives - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2014)
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 4, Covenant Party 3, independents 13
note: the Northern Mariana Islands elects one nonvoting delegate to the US House of Representatives; election last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2014); seats by party - independent 1

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
note - 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


International organization participation


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 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 - overview

The Northern Mariana Islands' economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. The tourist industry employs approximately a quarter of the work force and accounts for roughly one-fourth of GDP. As a share of total arrivals, the number of Japanese tourists has dropped recently to less than half, while Korean visitors account for roughly one-third. Annual tourist arrivals have remained below 400,000 since 2007. Other services such as trade are also important to the local economy. The small agriculture sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$733 million (2010 est.)
note: GDP estimate includes US subsidy

GDP (official exchange rate)

$733 million (2010 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$13,600 (2010 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 1.7%
industry: 3.3%
services: 95% (2010)

Labor force

note: includes nearly 29,000 foreign workers (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

agriculture: 1.9%
industry: 10%
services: 88.1% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate (%)

11.2% (2010 est.)
8% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line (%)


Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $260 million
expenditures: $318.2 million (FY10/11)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

35.5% of GDP (FY10/11 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

-7.9% of GDP (FY10/11 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

-2.7% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

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


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

Industrial production growth rate (%)



$98.2 million (2008)

Exports - commodities (%)



$214.4 million (2001)

Imports - commodities (%)

food, construction equipment and materials, petroleum products

External debt ($)


Exchange rates

Currency converter
the US dollar is used

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September


Electricity - production (kWh)

60,600 kWh (January 2009)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

48,300 kWh (January 2009)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (January 2009 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (January 2009 est.)


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)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

17 (2012)



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)


1 (2013)

Roadways (km)

total: 536 km (2008)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Saipan, Tinian, Rota


Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 8,793
females age 16-49: 11,569 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 410
female: 306 (2010 est.)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international


Largest cities of Northern Mariana Islands

These are the 50 largest cities of Northern Mariana Islands ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population