About Mariana Islands
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
is a group of 14 islands in the North Pacific Ocean along the Marianas Trench, the deepest location on earth, stretching over 375 miles north to south (736 km), with a land area of 181 square miles (457 sq km). This is an area about equal in size to that of Barbados or the Seychelles. There are three major inhabited islands, but most live on Saipan, the capital of the island country. Ferdinand Magellan, discoverer by trade, claimed the islands for Spain in 1521. The following seizure by Spanish colonists was much of a disadvantage for the local Chamorro inhabitants, who were controlled by the Spanish for over 300 years. The islands were sold by Spain to Germany in 1899 and remained under the German flag until 1914 when the Japanese moved against the Germans, forced them out and virtually annexed the Islands into the Empire. The islands came under US administration as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific. Today the islands with their cultural and historical attractions, world class golf courses, luxury hotels, tropical jungles and colorful underwater reef life, are a famous tropical destination for vacation trips.
SOME REASONS TO VISIT THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS:
** The Northern Mariana Islands are the closest American Islands to Asia!
** The island’s eastern beaches and cliffs can be viewed as you descend deep into the Marianas Trench, the deepest point on Earth, approximately 10,911 meters! Therefore, Mt. Tapochau can be considered the highest point on Earth from the bottom of the sea.
** Saipan was included in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most temperate climate in the world at +27C. Summer lasts 12 months a year on the Islands!
** In June 2007, Marine Dive Magazine named 5 prestigious awards to the Mariana Islands according to its readership:
- 1st place to Managaha Island in Saipan’s lagoon as “The Best Snorkeling Spot”;
- 4th place to Managaha Island as “The Best Beach”;
- 4th place to Saipan, Tinian and Rota as “The Best Diving Region”;
- 5th place to Rota for its Teteto Beach as “The Best Beach”;
- 5th place to Saipan, Tinian and Rota as “The Best Resort”.
The Magazine established 18 categories related to dive destinations and readers voted for any place in the world.
** At the International Diving Fair’s 21st Century Dive & Travel Awards held in Tokyo in early April, Managaha Island in the Saipan lagoon was awarded “The Best Snorkeling Spot of the Year” for the fourth consecutive year. ** Saipan’s infamous underwater cave, The Grotto, located in the northern part of island was awarded “The 2nd Most Beautiful Dive Site” by dive specialists. Skin Diver Magazine considers Grotto as one of ten best diving places. ** The most mass diving event was held in Saipan on April 17th, 1999. 215 participants dove in one place at the same time. This occasion was included in the Guinness Book of World Records as another world record established on Saipan.
** Saipan is a treasure island! The Saipan History and Culture Museum owns the largest collection of exhibits and treasures from Spanish galleons! The galleon “Nuestra Seniora de la Koncepcion” filled with gold sank near Agingan cape in the Saipan strait not far from PIC in 1638. Only part of the treasure was found by underwater expedition in the 80’s. Most of the treasure remains on the sea floor. The most expensive treasures are kept in the Museum and its duplicates might be seen in one of the Museum’s rooms: gold jewelry with diamonds and precious stones, necklaces, chains, elegant china and others.
** Artist Douglas Rankin lived on Saipan and died in 2007. He was the creator and the only master artist of a unique technique called Banana painting. His landscapes are painted not by brush, but by banana tree trunks and leave stamps. His amazing drawings can be seen at PIC’s Seaside Grill Restaurant.
** Annual local and international sporting events, festivals and fiestas are held here throughout the year. Additional information and event schedules can be found on our website calendar.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands short form: Northern Mariana Islands
Former: Mariana Islands District (Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands)
ISO Country Code: mp
Time: Local Time = UTC +10h
Capital: Saipan (the island Saipan)
Government: Commonwealth in political union with the US; self-governing with locally elected governor. Geography:
Location: Mariana Archipelago, group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Sea along the Mariana Trench, south of S.Korea and Japan, and east of the Philippines.
Area: 477 sq. km
Terrain: The northern islands are of volcanic origin, active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrighan, the southern islands are lacustrine limestone fringed by coral reefs.
Climate: Tropical marine, dry season from December to June, rainy season from July to November. People: Population: 50,000 (UN estimate 2006).
Ethnic Groups: Chamorro, Carolinians and other Micronesians Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic majority, although traditional beliefs and taboos may still be found)
Languages: Chamorro, Carolinian, English. Japanese and Korean are widely spoken. note: 86% of the population speaks a language other than English at home.
Literacy: 97% Natural resources: Arable land, fish. Agriculture products: Coconuts, tropical fruits, vegetables; cattle. Industries: Tourism, fishing, handicrafts.
Currency: US dollar $ (USD). There are several Asian and US banks in the Mariana Islands where currencies from some foreign countries can be exchanged. ATMs are available at most banks and major shopping centers.
Public Holidays Below are listed Public Holidays for the January-December 2014 period.
1 Jan New Year's Day
20 Jan. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
17 Feb Presidents’ Day
17 Mar St. Patrick's Day
24 Mar Covenant Day
18 Apr Good Friday
20 Apr Easter
11 May Mother's Day
26 May Memorial Day
15 May Father's Day
4 Jul US Independence Day
1 Sep Labor Day
13 Oct Columbus Day
31 Oct Halloween
4 Nov Citizenship Day
11 Nov Veterans' Day
27 Nov Thanksgiving Day
8 Dec Constitution Day
25 Dec Christmas Day
Health Care There is a major, modern hospital on Saipan and routine facilities on Rota and Tinian. Full medical facilities are available but are not free of charge; health insurance is advisable.
Northern Mariana Islands Entertainment Food and Drink A wide choice of food is on offer, including Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Thai.
• Kelaguen, a chewy mixture of diced chicken and shredded coconut and thin slices of raw coconut dipped in a peppery sauce.
Nightlife There are several popular bars in Garapan and a few nightclubs and discos.
Shopping Special purchases here include wishing dolls, coconut masks, coconut-crab decorations and woodcarvings, plus numerous duty-free items.
Shopping hours: Mon-Sun 08:00-21:00.
Fruit, vegetables, beef and pork are produced in commercial quantities, with some being exported. Fisheries and copra (coconut meat) are other important industries in the agricultural sector. The economy is dominated overall by the service sector, of which tourism is the principal component. Bilateral aid from the USA is still an important source of income for the government, particularly monies earmarked to develop the islands’ infrastructure. The Northern Marianas is a member of the Pacific Community.
Saipan Chamber of Commerce: PO Box 500806 CK, Saipan, MP 96950, Northern Mariana Islands
Tel: 1 670 233 7150.
Northern Mariana Islands Top Things to See & Do
• Attend a village fiesta in honor of local patron saints.
• Explore Saipan's western shore: it is encircled by a barrier reef, creating a lagoon with white sand beaches.
• Visit the Last Command Post of the Japanese Imperial Army known as Banadero, with WWII cannons, tanks and artillery preserved in a limestone cave.
• Enjoy spectacular views from the Puntan Sabaneta (also known as Banzai Cliff) and Laderan Banadero (also known as Suicide Cliff as thousands of Japanese soldiers jumped to their deaths to avoid capture).
• Take a trip to the southern island of Tinian, which has a rugged coastline with tiny coves. At Abbas on the northern shore, there are blow holes where incoming waves shoot 6m (20ft) into the air.
• Also on Tinian, visit the House of Taga, a temple or meeting house associated with the legendary chief Taga. It consists of magnificent stone pillars, carved in the traditional way and transported from nearby coastal areas.
• Hop over to Rota, a small and friendly island with a variety of natural attractions. Outside the main village of Songsong, sights include Tonga Cave, a huge limestone cavern with stalactites and stalagmites, so large it was used as a wartime hospital.
• While on Rota, see the fascinating Wedding Cake Mountain, which resembles a layered cake. Curious artifacts can also be viewed at the Rota Cave Museum, located in a gigantic limestone cave.
• See huge and ancient stone remains carved by the Chamorros at the Taga Stone Quarry, on Rota.
• Take a glass-bottomed boat trip out to Isleta Maigo Fahang (also known as Bird Island) a beautiful, unspoilt island set aside as a nature reserve.
• Try some watersports: There are many suitable diving and snorkelling locations; windsurfing is popular on Saipan. Parasailing is available. Local fishing competitions are held in several places.
• If you'd rather explore underwater scenery and wrecks whilst staying warm and dry, take a submarine cruise.
Travel to Northern Mariana Islands
Getting There by Air
Airlines serving the Northern Mariana Islands include Delta Airlines (DL) (website: www.delta.com); Asiana Airlines (OZ) (website: www.flyasiana.com), China Southern Air (CZ) (website: www.csair.com/en/), Continental Airlines (CO) (website: www.continental.com). Main Airports Saipan (SPN) (website: www.cpa.gov.mp) is situated 5km (3 miles) south of Chalan Kanoa.
Getting Around by Air Commuter aircrafts are available to take visitors from Saipan to Tinian (journey time – 12 minutes) and Rota (journey time – 30 minutes).
To/from the airport: Taxis are available to the town (journey time – 15 minutes) and tour buses may meet some flights.
Facilities: refreshments and car hire. There are smaller airports at Rota (ROP) and Tinian (TIQ).
Departure Tax None.
Getting There by Sea
Main port: Saipan (website: www.cpa.gov.mp). Several shipping and cruise lines sail to Saipan. Northern Mariana Islands Transport
Getting Around by Road
There are good roads in and around major island centers.
Bus: There is a public shuttle bus service to major shopping facilities from hotels.
Taxi: Available at all main centers. Car hire: Self-drive cars are available in towns; US driving laws are followed. Documentation: International Driving Permit or national license accepted.
Northern Mariana Islands Communications
Telephone Country code: 1
City Code: 670. There are payphones in Saipan and most hotels; restaurants and other public facilities have telephones which visitors can use.
Mobile Telephone A mobile phone network exists, although no roaming agreements have been declared by the service provider.
Internet Availability and reliability is limited compare to other developed countries.
Post There are United States post offices on the three main islands, as well as private postal companies in Saipan. US postal rates apply. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00, Sat 09:00-12:00.
Press • The English-language newspapers include the Pacific Daily News (daily), Saipan Tribune (6 days/week) and the Marianas Variety (weekdays).
Northern Mariana Islands Weather and Climate Tropical climate, tempered by trade winds. The rainy season is July to November. Required Clothing Lightweight cottons and linens, with light rainwear advisable all year.