Northern Mariana Islands
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The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with (and in practice, close to a territory of) the United States. The islands are in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean, between Japan, the Philippines, and Palau.
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About Northern Mariana Islands
The earliest settlers in the Marianas chain are thought to have descended from the Malay race and to have migrated from the Malay peninsula via Indonesia or the Philippines. Early Chamorros were farmers, fishermen, hunters, and built their houses on large stone pillars known today as "latte stones" (a few of which still exist on Tinian and Rota).
The first European in these waters was Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, who landed on nearby Guam and claimed the islands for Spain. Not content to claim the land, the Spanish also helped themselves to whatever else happened to be lying around. The natives responded in kind, helping themselves to tools and other items from Magellan's ships. Angry at this, Magellan first dubbed the islands "Las Islas de los Ladrones", (The Islands of the Thieves), but in 1668 their name was changed to Las Marianas after Maria Anna of Austria, widow of Spain's Philip IV.
Nearly all of the islands' native population died out during Spanish rule, but new settlers from modern-day Micronesia repopulated them to some extent. Sold to Germany from 1899, the Japanese took over in 1914 and turned the island into a military garrison. During World War II, the Marines landed on June 15, 1944 and eventually won the bitterly fought three-week Battle of Saipan.
Under U.S. 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 U.S. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the U.S. was approved in 1975. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978. The Marianas are self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature, but the United States government handles defense and foreign relations. Local residents are U.S. citizens by birth but do not pay federal taxes or vote in the presidential elections, instead they elect a non-voting representative to the U.S. government.
The economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. The rate of funding has declined as locally generated government revenues have grown. The key tourist industry employs about 50% of the work force and accounts for roughly one-fourth of GDP. Japanese and Korean tourists predominate. Annual tourist entries have exceeded one-half million in recent years, but financial difficulties in Japan have caused a temporary slowdown. Currently, more Korean tourists go to the CNMI than Guam, while more Japanese tourists go to Guam than the CNMI. This change is reflected by a shift in airlines servicing the islands, with Korean Air and Asiana Airlines offering direct service to Saipan from Seoul, South Korea, while JAL and ANA offer direct service from Japan to Guam. Air service is now offered from most major Chinese cities as well (including Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou).
The agricultural sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. Garment production used to be the largest industry, but the last garment factory closed in early 2009.
The northern islands of the CNMI are mainly populated by Caroline Islanders (a Polynesian group with origins in Kiribati), while the southern islands are populated by Chamorros. In recent years, the CNMI has allowed many migrant workers.
Tropical marine; moderated by northeast trade winds, little seasonal temperature variation. Dry season December to June, rainy season July to October. The typhoon, or hurricane, season lasts several months and starts in late August to early September and lasts until January.
The Marianas' top activity among Americans is scuba diving and snorkeling. In additional to the coral reefs you might expect, the waters around the islands were the scene of fierce fighting during World War II and there are many ship wrecks and even rusting tanks stuck on the seabed.
Many Asian (particularly South Koreans) visitors come to the CNMI for gambling (especially on Tinian), and karaoke/hostess bars. Saipan has a thriving (but illegal) prostitution industry, most of the workers being from China or the Philippines.
Cockfighting is a weekend activity at the Saipan Cockpit. Betting on the outcome is legal.
While all American and Japanese favorites are readily available, local Chamorro food (or touristy versions of it) is also offered in speciality restaurants. Filipino, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Italian and Mexican dishes are also widely available. Most of the hotels have expensive but good quality restaurants, especially Hyatt Regency in Garapan, Aqua Resort in Tanapag, Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio.But you can also find good quality restaurants not only in hotels, one of this is : "The Coffee Room N-106" in Garapan. McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and Winchell's Donuts are all avaialble.
The main beers available in Saipan establishments are Budweiser and Miller products, usually sold in bottles only. However, a few places do serve Fosters or Victoria Bitter on tap, and a few have Miller Lite on tap as well. Other brands widely sold are San Miguel (Philippines), Tsingtao (China), Sapporo (Japan, bottled in Canada), and Corona (Mexico). Plenty of stores on Saipan have low-priced, good quality wine available, and there are plenty of harder drinks as well as mixers available everywhere.
The CNMI uses the US dollar exclusively. The islands are fairly expensive due to their remote location, comparative wealth and the profusion of free-spending Japanese and Korean package tourists, so figure on at least US$100 a day for travel in any comfort (this being also the entry requirement). As in the mainland US, tips of 10-15% are expected.
Major credit cards are accepted at most retailers and restaurants. On Saipan, the major banks, and some restaurants and stores all have ATM machines. Bank of Guam has branches on Tinian and Rota, complete with ATMs.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Northern Mariana Islands on Wikivoyage.
Cities in Northern Mariana Islands
Points of Interest in Northern Mariana Islands
The CNMI has many WWII bunkers, which fall under the National Park Service as "War in the Pacific" parks. There are also memorials on the northern end of Saipan to the Japanese soldiers and civilians who feared capture by U.S. forces and committed suicide by jumping from the cliffs into the ocean.
American Memorial Park - Saipan
House of Taga - Tinian
Teteto Beach - Rota
Managaha Beach - Saipan
Micro Beach - Saipan
Tinian Beach - Tinian
Bird Island - Saipan
Saipan Zoo - Saipan
Lau Lau Bay Beach - Saipan
Lao Lao Bay Golf Resort - Saipan
Marianas Country Club - Saipan
North Field - Tinian
Saipan Botanical Garden - Saipan
Kingfisher Golf Links - Saipan
Coral Ocean Point Resort Club - Saipan
Suicide Cliff - Tinian
Rota Resort and Country Club - Rota