Northern Mariana Islands
Population: 77,000 (est.)
Language(s): English, Chamorro, Carolinian
- The US$ is the official currency of the Northern Mariana Islands.
- Christianity is the country’s main religion, having a Roman Catholic majority.
- The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is one of two (Puerto Rico the other) Commonwealths of the United States.
- Nearly all of the islands’ native population (90%-95%) died out under Spanish rule, but new settlers, primarily from the Philippines and the Caroline Islands, were brought in to repopulate the islands.
- 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.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is one of two Commonwealths of the United States; the other is Puerto Rico. It consists of fifteen islands in the western Pacific Ocean located about three-quarters of the way between Hawaii and the Philippines. The United States Census Bureau reports the total land area of all islands as 183.5 square miles (475.26 km2). As of the 2010 census, the Commonwealth has a population of 53,883, of which over 90% live on the island of Saipan. Of the fourteen other islands, only two – Tinian and Rota – are permanently inhabited.
The Commonwealth’s center of government is in the village of Capital Hill on Saipan. As the island is governed as a single municipality, most publications name Saipan as the Commonwealth’s capital.
In April 2012, anticipating a loss of funding by 2014, the Commonwealth’s public pension fund declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.