The World Factbook (1990)/Northern Mariana Islands

Northern Mariana Islands (commonwealth associated with the US)

See regional map X


Total area: 477 km²; land area: 477 km²; includes Saipan, Rota, and Tinian

Comparative area: slightly more than 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 1,482 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 3 nm

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

Terrain: southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs; northern islands are volcanic; highest elevation is 471 meters (Mt. Tagpochu on Saipan)

Natural resources: arable land, fish

Land use: 1% arable land; NA% permanent crops; 19% meadows and pastures; NA% forest and woodland; NA% other

Environment: Mt. Pagan is an active volcano (last erupted in October 1988); subject to typhoons during the rainy season

Note: strategic location 5,635 km west-southwest of Honolulu in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way between Hawaii and the Philippines


Population: 22,719 (July 1990), growth rate 3.4% (1990)

Birth rate: 43 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -3 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 17 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 65 years male, 70 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.8 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: undetermined

Ethnic divisions: Chamorro majority; Carolinians and other Micronesians; Spanish, German, Japanese admixtures

Religion: Christian with a Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found

Language: English, but Chamorro and Carolinian are also spoken in the home and taught in school

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: 17,533, including 10,000 foreign workers (1988 est.)

Organized labor: NA


Long-form name: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Type: commonwealth associated with the US and administered by the Office of Territorial and International Affairs, US Department of the Interior

Capital: Saipan

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: none (commonwealth associated with the US)

Constitution: Covenant Agreement effective 3 November 1986

Legal system: NA

National holiday: Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)

Executive branch: governor, lieutenant governor

Legislative branch: bicameral Legislature consists of an upper house or Senate and a lower house or House of Representatives

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President George BUSH (since 20 January 1989); Vice President Dan QUAYLE (since 20 January 1989);

Head of Government—Governor Pedro P. TENORIO (since 1978); Lieutenant Governor Pedro A. TENORIO (since NA)

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party, Antonio S. Guerrero; Republican Party, Alonso Igisomar

Suffrage: universal at age 18; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Elections: Governor—last held on NA (next to be held NA); results—Pedro P. TENORIO (Democratic Party) was elected;

Senate—last held on NA (next to be held NA); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(9 total) number of seats by party NA;

House of Representatives—last held on NA (next to be held NA); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(14 total) number of seats by party NA;

US House of Representatives—last held NA (next to be held NA); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(1 total) party of nonvoting delegate NA

Diplomatic representation: none

Flag: 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


Overview: The economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. An agreement for the years 1986 to 1992 entitles the islands to $228 million for capital development, government operations, and special programs. Another major source of income is the tourist industry, which employs about 10% of the work force. The agricultural sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. Industry is small scale in nature mostly handicrafts and fish processing.

GNP: $165 million, per capita $9,170; real growth rate NA% (1982)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $NA; expenditures $70.6 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1987)

Exports: $NA; commodities—vegetables, beef, pork; partners—NA

Imports: $NA; commodities—NA; partners—NA

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 25,000 kW capacity; 35 million kWh produced, 1,640 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: tourism, construction, light industry, handicrafts

Agriculture: coffee, coconuts, fruits, tobacco, cattle

Aid: none

Currency: US currency is used

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October-30 September


Highways: 300 km total (53 km primary, 55 km secondary, 192 km local)

Ports: Saipan, Rota, Tinian

Airports: 6 total, 4 usable; 3 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 2 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: stations—2 AM, no FM, 1 TV; 2 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US