Northern Mariana Islands Facts

Northern Mariana Islands Facts and History


The islands of the Northern Mariana Islands are located in the northwestern Pacific, east of the Phillipines and west of Hawaii. They belong to Micronesia, which also includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the US Territories in the Pacific and Palau. The island state is made up of 14 islands of volcanic origin, only six of which are inhabited. About 90% of the population live on Saipan.

There are active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan. The planes that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 took off from here.

Today, a very large part of Tinian Island is leased to the American military.

In the vicinity you will find the Mariana Trench of the same name, in which, at a depth of 11,770 m, is the deepest sea point in the world.

Name of the country Commonwealth of the Northern MarianasCommonwealth of the Northern Marianas
Form of government American outskirts
Location In the northwest Pacific, east of the Phillipines and west of Hawaii; around 13 ° -20 ° north latitude and 140 ° east longitude.
National anthem The American national anthem and, as the local anthem, Gi Talo ‘Gi Halom Tasi
Population approx.61,500 (Credit: Countryaah: Northern Mariana Islands Facts)
Ethnicities Filipinos around 34%, Chamorro 30%, Chinese 12%, Micronesians 8%, Carolinians 5%
Religions The population is predominantly Catholic with 60%, 19% are Protestants. There are also Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, Korean Prebysterians, Evangelicans and the 7th day Adventists.
Languages English, Chromatic, Carolinian
Capital The island of Saipan, with about 50,000 residents
Surface 477 km²
Highest mountain The highest mountain in the country is an unnamed location on the island of Agrihan, with a height of 965 m.
Longest river Okgok Stream on Rota
International license plate United States
Currency U.S. dollar
Time difference to CET + 9 h
International phone code +1 670
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .mp

Northern Mariana Islands: History

Early history

It is believed that the Northern Marianas, like Guam, were settled by Indo-Malay ethnic groups 3,000 years ago.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, the latte stones, which can also be found on Guam, are evidence of the settlement. Scientists believe these stones are the foundations of the houses of eminent people. When the Europeans arrived, however, the culture had already passed its zenith.

On Guam, the southernmost island of the Mariana Islands, which is now an independent state, the houses were used until around 1750.


The Europeans are coming

When Magellan (1480-1521) discovered the islands in 1521, the Latte spots were deserted. Because of the violent clashes with the islanders, Magellan called the islands Islas de los Ladrones, islands of thieves.

For the Spaniards, the Mariana Islands, especially Guam, were an important stopover on the trade route from Acapulco in Mexico to Manila in the Philippines.

In 1668 the Spaniards established a first mission station and at the same time the first European settlers came to the islands, especially to Guam, which is now an independent state, but culturally and geographically belongs to the Mariana Islands.

The coexistence of the locals with the conquerors was very conflictual. It is believed that of the 50,000 residents before the Europeans arrived, only 2,000 were left.

These represented the Chamorros ethnic group. Almost all of them were resettled to Guam and eventually became Catholics. Some of the islands are more or less uninhabited to this day due to the forced resettlement by the Spaniards.

Towards the beginning of the 19th century, the Saipan group from the Caroline Islands, today’s Federated States of Micronesia, was allowed to settle in the Northern Mariana Islands.

After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Spanish sold all of their islands to Germany, with the exception of Guam, which was claimed by the United States.

1900 – present

With the few Germans, there were only about 20 “officials”, the western concept of land ownership and scientific agriculture came to the islands. In general, it was extremely difficult at the time to win over Germans to colonize the islands claimed by Germany.

In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, Japan annexed the islands. The Japanese settled the Northern Mariana Islands with 20,000 civilians who were employed in fishing and sugar cane production.

The islands were then of strategic importance for the war opponents America and Japan as military bases in the Pacific during World War II. As a result, some of the bloodiest fighting between the Japanese and the Americans took place here. In August 1945, the planes took off from Tinian Island and dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 10.

On December 10, 1945, the Japanese surrendered and the Americans took over administration until the islands were placed under the UN’s Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Before the islands were handed over to the Americans, large numbers of Japanese civilians committed suicide. Whole families threw themselves from the steep sea cliffs, which are also known today as “suicide cliffs”. Since 1947 the Americans administered the Trust Territory, which also includes the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

In 1975 the islanders made a free choice to join the United States. The rest of the Trust Territory went its own way (see the corresponding states).


On January 1, 1978, the Northern Mariana Islands Constitution came into force.

The islanders have been US citizens since then, but without the right to vote in the US. Access to the strategically important military bases is so important to the Americans that the political system outlined below comes in handy for them. In order to continue to secure military access to the islands, considerable sums of money are transferred into the country every year.

Not least because of this, the government is the main employer on the islands, while tourism is the main source of income.

Northern Mariana Islands Facts