Northern Mariana Islands
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Anthem: Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi
Location of the Northern Mariana Islands
and largest city
Northern Mariana Islander (formal, common in Sierra) |
Mariana (diminutive form)
|Government||Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
|Angelina II (I)|
|Ralph Achoga (CU)|
|Jovani Gica (D)|
|Independence from the Kingdom of Sierra|
• Party of the Spanish East Indies
• Part of the Sierran East Indies
• Sovereignty referendum
|September 18th, 1975|
• 2017 census
|GDP (PPP)||2013 estimate|
• Per capita
|ISO 3166 code||MP|
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; Chamorro: Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; Refaluwasch or Carolinian: Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an insular area and a sovereign country consisting of 14 islands located in the Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago except the southernmost island of the chain, Guam, which is a separate sovereign country and both are the westernmost point (in terms of jurisdiction) and territory of the Kingdom of Sierra as part of the Columbian Community. The island currently has a landmass of 183.5 square miles (475.26 km2) according to the Royal Intelligence Agency and has a population of 55,811 according to the 2017 census done by the island's government with the bulk of the population living in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
Initially a small chain of islands inhabited only by various tribes, the islands were colonized by Spain in the 16th century and later annexed as part of the Spanish East Indies. Following Spain's defeat by Anglo-America in the Spanish–American War, the islands were occupied by Sierra and later colonized as party of the Sierran East Indies in 1905 until they were occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1941 during World War II. After the war, the islands were reclaimed by Sierra and were an unincorporated territory of Sierra until the sovereignty referendum in 1975 in which two-thirds of voters voted in favor of independence. Today the Northern Mariana Islands are part of the Columbian Realms and part of various international organizations such as the League of Nations, the Trans-Pacific Allied Community and an observer state of the Conference of American States.
The administrative center and de-facto capitol is Capitol Hill, but the entire island of Saipan is governed under a single municipality.
Etymology[edit | edit source]
History[edit | edit source]
Early human settlement[edit | edit source]
The earliest human settlers arrived on the islands from Southeast Asia and first arrived between the 4000 BC and 2000 BC. Once Spanish explorers had made contact with locals of the island, the Spaniards named them Chamorros, a Spanish word similar to Chamori, the name of the indigenous caste system's higher division.
Ancient inhabitants of the island had constructed colonnades of megalithic caped pillars called latte stones which were used to build their homes. By the time the Spanish had colonized the Northern Mariana Islands, the largest pieces of such structures were left in ruins. The Chamorros at the time of Spanish settlement had also believed that the ancestors that had constructed such pillars lived in an era where they and other people had supernatural abilities.
In 2013 archeologists had theorized that the first people to have settled the Mariana Islands made what was at the time the longest uninterrupted ocean-crossing voyage in human history. Archeological evidence indicated that Tinian was the first Pacific island to have been settled that was outside of the Asian continent.
Spanish colonization[edit | edit source]
The first European explorer to traverse the area around the Northern Mariana Islands was Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who arrived in 1521. He landed on Guam, the southmost island of the Marianas, and claimed the region as part of the Spanish Empire eventually organizing the islands as part of the Spanish East Indies later on. When the first Spanish ships landed on the islands, the Chamorros met the Spanish with refreshments and helped themselves to a small boat that was part of Magellan's fleet. This lead to a cultural clash as the native Chamorros' culture didn't value private property and believed that taking something that one needed, such as a fishing boat, wasn't stealing. The Spanish, lacking knowledge of this custom, fought the Chamorros for possession of the boat until he Spanish recovered it. Three days later Magellan left the archipelago and the islands were officially annexed by Spain as part of the Spanish East Indies, an overseas colony of Spain in the Pacific.
In 1734, the Spanish built a palace for the Governor of the Spanish East Indies on the islands and remains visible in the contemporary era. Despite being two separate regions, both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands were administered under a single authority and the Spanish used the Mariana Islands as a stopover point between the Spanish East Indies and the Tondolese Empire when trading galleons of gold. Some sunken galleons remain underwater and their remains discovered. In 1668, Father Diego Luis de San Vitores renamed the islands Las Marianas in honor of his patroness the Spanish regent Mariana of Austria (1634–1696), widow of Felipe IV (reigned 1621–1655). Most of the native population of the islands, between 90-95%, had died as a result of diseased brought over to Europe by the Spanish, diseases that the Chamorros had no experience with and thus their immune systems were unable to protect them from such diseases.