The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) emerged from the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) which the United States administered on behalf of the United Nations from 1947 until Palau, the last member of the TTPI to choose its own political future, became an independent country 1994. The Federal law (the Covenant) making the CNMI a U.S. territory passed in 1975. The CNMI adopted its constitution in 1977, and its first constitutional government took office in 1978. The CNMI came under Federal minimum wage regulations in 2007 and immigration law in 2008. In June 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security takes over the CNMI’s immigration and border controls.
Governor: Benigno R. Fitial
Total labor force: 38,935 (2005)
Washington DC: 8,950 miles
GDP: $716 million (BEA 2009)
Gross business receipts in 2009: $1.6 billion
Total gov’t. revenues: $244.3 million (FY 07)
Located just north of Guam, the CNMI is a three-hundred mile archipelago consisting of 14 islands, with a total land area of 183.5 square miles. The principal inhabited islands are Saipan, Rota and Tinian. The northern, largely uninhabited islands are Farallon de Medinilla, Anatahan, Sariguan, Gudgeon, Alamagan, Pagan, Agrihan, Asuncion, Maug Islands, and Farallon de Pajaro. Saipan is 3,300 miles from Honolulu; 5,625 from San Francisco; 1,272 miles from Tokyo; and 3,090 miles from Sydney.
The Mariana Islands are on the edge of the Philippine Plate. They were formed by underwater volcanoes along the Marianas Trench. The northern islands are high volcanic islands and the southern islands are raised limestone.
Anatahan is currently an active volcano with the first recorded volcanic eruption on May 10, 2003.
The U.S. citizen population of the Northern Marianas is predominantly of Chamorro cultural extraction, although a number of Carolinians (Chuukese, Kosraeans, Pohnpeians and Yapese) and immigrants from other areas of East Asia and Micronesia have also settled in the islands. English is the official language of the CNMI, but Chamorro and Carolinian are the spoken native tongues. The Spanish culture, which influenced the Chamorro culture for nearly four centuries, is still present today. Japanese is also spoken in many of the hotels and shops, reflecting the heavy tourism industry. The non-citizen population is made up primarily of Filipino and Chinese, with some representation from several other Asian countries.
Office of Insular Affairs