Northern Mariana Islands
|Official Country Name:||Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands|
|Region (Map name):||Oceania|
The Northern Mariana Islands, located in the North Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the Philippines, were settled by ancestors of the Chamorros Indians around 2000 B.C. In 1521, explorer Ferdinand Magellan claimed the islands for Spain, which ruled them until selling them to Germany in 1899. At the start of World War I, Japan seized the islands until the close of World War II, when they became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands administered by the United States via a United Nations mandate. The islands became self-governing in 1975, and in the 1980s, its citizens received both U.S. citizenship and the civil and political rights of the U.S. Constitution. In 1990, the UN terminated the Trust Territory, but the U.S. remains responsible for foreign affairs and defense. Although the official language is English, most of the population speaks another language at home, such as Chamorro or Carolinian. The population is approximately 72,000, and the literacy rate is 97 percent. The U.S. President serves as the Chief of State, but the Head of Government is local. There is a bicameral legislature with a Senate and a House of Representatives. The garment industry is the most important segment of the economy, but tourism, mostly from Japan, also plays a major role, as does agriculture.
The media enjoy freedom of the press and speech. Two newspapers print Monday through Friday: the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety. Both are available online. The Saipan Tribune publishes in English. The Marianas Variety print edition features both English and Chamorro, but its online edition is English only.
There are five radio stations, two AM and three FM. There is one television station and one Internet service provider.
"Annual Survey of Freedom Related Territory Scores," Freedom House (2000). Available from http://www.freedomhouse.org .
"Northern Mariana Islands," CIA World Fact Book (2001). Available from http://www.cia.gov .
Saipan Tribune, (1998) Home Page. Available from http://www.tribune.com .
Jenny B. Davis