General Knowledge & Statistics
Statistics, demographics and more
Where on Earth is Saipan??????
Saipan is in the Western Pacific, not the South Pacific
Where on Earth is Saipan?
Exact Location

Latitude: 15° 7' 13" N

Longitude: 145° 43' 49" E

Official Name
The official name of the group of islands of which Saipan is a part is The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or C.N.M.I., for short. This (the CNMI) is typically how residents on any of the permanently populated islands (Saipan, Tinian and Rota) refer to it, as in " in the CNMI..."or by individual island names, as in "I miss Rota!"
Most often, in this guide, I'll use "Saipan" to refer to the entire CNMI
All the islands of the CNMI (plus Guam)
archipelago: n.- 1. a group of islands. 2. a sea or stretch of water containing many islands.
The CNMI is a fifteen-island chain of islands (an archipelago) that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, and is the largest and most populated of these 15 islands. Various publications refer to the CNMI as encompassing 14 islands or even 13. Typically, some of these sources do not include the submerged Zealandia Bank in their count. Others may not include Aguijan (aka "Goat island") a small island off the coast of Tinian. FYI: Managaha, a favorite tourist spot off the coast of Saipan, is also usually not included in any count
Maug gets counted as one (1) entity even though it is a collection of 3 smaller islands: North Island (Kita), East Island (Higashi) and West Island (Nishi)
As the largest, most populous of the islands, and the de-facto capital of the CNMI, Saipan is where the majority of population and center of commerce exists and thus is the focus of this guide.
SOUTHERN?? If these are the "northern" Mariana Islands, where are the "southern" islands?
ANSWER: Technically, that would be Guam, which is south of Rota.
Note: While Guam is--from a GEOLOGICAL perspective--part of the same archipelago that comprise the Mariana Islands, it is NOT part of the CNMI. It is a separate entity with its own government and relationship to the United States.
Time Zone & Area Code [toc | faq]

• The CNMI has its own time zone: Chamorro Standard Time. (ChST)

• UTC/GMT +10 hour (UTC= Universal Time Coordinated; GMT= Greenwich Mean Time)

• Saipan and Guam are in the same time zone

• Saipan is 14 hours AHEAD of Eastern Daylight Savings Time; 15 hours AHEAD Eastern Standard Time. (i.e. Daylight savings time is NOT observed on Saipan)

For example when it is

12:26am Monday (ChST) - on Saipan, (26 minutes after midnight), It is:

1:26am Monday (EST) - Time in Sydney NSW, Australia

9:26am Sunday (EST) - Time in New York, NY

10:26pm Sunday (CST) - Time in Beijing, China

10:26pm Sunday (PHT) - Time in Manila, Philippines

11:26pm Sunday (JST) - Time in Tokyo, Japan

11:26pm Sunday (KST) - Time in Seoul, South Korea

As the furthest east of the US family of possessions and protectorates, Saipan is "where America's day begins!" The sun rises on us first! While Guam may try to wrest that branding tagline from us, we are, in fact, further east than they are, so the sun rises on us first!
Area code

• The telephone area code for Saipan, Tinian and Rota is (670) Guam's is (671).

Saipan is about 12 miles long by 5 miles wide. It is approximately 46.5 square miles in total land area. To put that in perspective:

• Saipan is approximately the size of San Francisco. -

• Saipan is slightly larger than Hong Kong but smaller than the Wash. DC.

• Saipan is smaller than Barbados (CNMI's 14 islands = Barbados' total area)

• Manhattan island is 59.5 sq km (23 sq mi)= exactly half the size of Saipan!

• Staten Island is 151.5 sq km (58.5 sq mi)= little larger than Saipan

• The Bronx is 109 sq km (42 sq mi)=a little smaller than Saipan.

• Queens is 282.9 sq km (109.2 sq mi)=a bit more than twice Saipan.

• Brooklyn is 182.9 sq km (70.6 sq mi)--just 1.5 times the size of Saipan

• Brooklyn has 2.5 million people compared to 48,000 who live on Saipan

• Paris (incl. parks) is 105.39 sq km (41 sq mi)=a bit smaller than Saipan.

• Cairns, Australia is 488.1 sq km (188.5 sq mi)

• and, for the record: Jamaica is 4,411 square miles=a lot bigger than Saipan!

Flag [toc | faq]
The CNMI flag
The CNMI flag is blue, with a white, five-pointed star superimposed on a gray latte stone (the traditional foundation stone used in building) in the center, surrounded by a wreath; blue symbolizes the Pacific Ocean, the star represents the Commonwealth; the latte stone and the floral head wreath display elements of the native Chamorro culture
Local "National" Anthem

"Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi" (In the Middle of the Sea) lyrics/music: Jose S. PANGELINAN [Chamoru], David PETER [Carolinian]/Wilhelm GANZHORN

notes: Adopted 1996, the Carolinian version of the song is "Satil Matawal Pacifico;"

as a commonwealth of the United States, in addition to the local anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the official National Anthem

National Symbol
The Latte Stone. A latte stone, or simply latte (also latde), is a pillar (Chamorro language: haligi) capped by a hemispherical stone capital (tasa) with the flat side facing up. Used as building supports by the ancient Chamorro people, they are found throughout most of the Mariana Islands. In modern times, the latte stone is seen as a sign of Chamorro identity and is used in many different contexts.

Latte stones. Tinian's House of Taga. 7 of 8 huge stones have fallen. As described by early archeologists: "Prehistoric ruins left by unknown race which inhabited Tinian many centuries ago. Probably formed first floor of temple or house for chieftain."
Currency [toc | faq]

• Saipan uses US currency.

The CNMI Quarter
Designed by Richard Masters and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, the Northern Mariana Islands quarter reverse design represents the wealth of the islands in its natural resources of land, air and sea. A large limestone Latte (an architectural structure from ancient Chamorro times) stands near the shore. A Carolinian sailing vesel is present to represent the people's excellent seafaring skills alongside an island w/coconut trees, wild plants, native birds (Chungi). A Carolinian mwar (head lei; a symbol of the virtues of honor and respect) borders the bottom of the design. It is all framed by a Teibwo (pacific basil) with the inscription, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
Household appliances operate on 60 cycle-110/220 volts and 220/240 volts. All your appliances from the US mainland will operate here. If you intend to own a home, you'll want to purchase a generator. Those on island accommodate a range of voltages for appliances from Korea, China and other systems
CNMI Political Status [toc | faq]
After World War II, the CNMI came under US administration as part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific. In the 1970s, the people of the Northern Mariana Islands decided not to seek independence but instead to forge closer links with the US. Negotiations for territorial status began in 1972. A covenant to establish a commonwealth in political union with the US was approved in 1975, and came into force on 24 March 1976. A new government and constitution went into effect in 1978

• The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), is currently a commonwealth in political union with the United States. The CNMI has the same political relationship with the United States as does Puerto Rico.

• Defense is the responsibility of the US.

CNMI Government [toc | faq]
Government type
Commonwealth; self-governing with locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature
Administrative divisions
None. There are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are four municipalities at the second order: Northern Islands, Rota, Saipan, Tinian
Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands effective 1 January 1978; Covenant Agreement fully effective 4 November 1986
Legal system
US system applies, except for customs, wages, certain immigration laws, and taxation
18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch

• chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009);

• Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)

• head of government: Ralph Torres;

note 1. Benigno R. FITIAL was impeached by House of Representatives on 11-12 February 2013 and resigned on 20 February 2013; Eloy INOS (Republican) sworn in as governor the same day
note 2. Inos passed away in 2015 and Ralph Torres installed as Governor
The cabinet consists of the heads of the 10 principal departments under the executive branch who are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate; other members include special assistants to the governor and office heads appointed by and reporting directly to the governor (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in the Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term);
Legislative branch
Bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (9 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year staggered terms) and the House of Representatives (20 seats; members elected by popular vote serve 2-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Commonwealth Supreme Court; Superior Court; Federal District Court
The current Mayor of Saipan is David M. Apatang, who was sworn into office on June 12, 2015. Current Acting Mayor is Antonia Tudela
Census [toc | faq]

Population [toc | faq]
The 2010 Census reveals the following changes from the previous Census (2000):

• The CNMI population has declined from 69, 221 in 2000 to 53, 883 in 2010 ('s July 2016 est: 53,467)

• Saipan's population declined 22.7 %, from 62,392 in 2000 to 48,220 in 2010

• Tinian's population decreased 11.4 %, from 3,540 in 2000 to 3,136 in 2010.

• Rota's population decreased by 23 %, from 3,283 in 2000 to 2,527 in 2010

Here is an overview of the CNMI's population fluctuation from each Census year:
Population chart
There are Carolinian, Chamorro, American, Filippino, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan Korean, Australian. Balinese, Vietnamese, Ghanaian, Nigerian and Canadian residents on Saipan. Most non-Americans are contract workers and/or business owners on investor visas
Of the 53,883 total population registered during the 2010 Census, 18,800 were Pacific Islanders while Asians numbered 26,908
The report also showed that there were 55 African Americans, 54 Hispanic/Latinos, 1,117 Caucasians, 117 belonging to other ethnic groups, and 6,932 from two or more ethnic origins
Of the 18,800 total Pacific Islanders or Native Hawaiians in the Northern Marianas as of 2010, there were 2,461, Carolinians; 12,902, Chamorros 1,242, Chuukese 37, Kosraean 68, Marshallese 1,169, Palauan 425, Pohnpeian 228, Yapese and 268 Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders
Meanwhile, Filipinos were the majority among Asians with a total population of 19,017
They were followed by Chinese nationals (excluding Taiwanese), 3,659; Koreans, 2,253; Japanese, 795; Bangladeshis, 501; Thais, 266; Nepalese, 227; other Asians, 190
As to distribution in the islands, of the 18,800 Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians, 16,210 resided on Saipan; 1,222 on Tinian; and 1,368 on Rota
Of the 16,210 Pacific Islanders or Native Hawaiians residing on Saipan, the majority or 5,716 lived in District 1; 3,718 in District 3; 3,677 in District 5; 1,626 in District 2; and 1,473 in District 4
Carolinians, on the other hand, were mostly concentrated in District 3 where 846 of the total 2,461 registered in the 2010 Census lived; 674, District 1; 201, District 2; 224, District 4; and 501, District 5
In 2010, there were 12,902 Chamorros in the CNMI: 10,411 on Saipan; 1,183 on Tinian and 1,308 on Rota. On Saipan, a majority or 3,737 resided in District 1; 1,011, District 2; 1,996, District 3; 973, District 4; and 2,694, District 5
Population by district
Most of the Chuukese in the CNMI at the time of the census (1225 of 1242) were living on Saipan. A majority lived in District 1 (467) and District 3 (432).
1,128 of the 1,169 total Palauans in the CNMI in 2010 lived on Saipan, with a majority of them or 444 in District 1. As for Asian residents, Filipinos comprised 70.67% of the total Asian population in 2010 and 35.29 percent of the total CNMI population
There were 19,017 Filipinos in the CNMI in 2010, 17,285 were on Saipan; 950 on Tinian; and 782 on Rota. 5,151 or 29.80 percent of the total Filipinos on Saipan resided in District 1; 2,863 or 16.56% in District 2; 6,758 or 39.09 % in District 3; 1,047 or 6.05 % in District 4 and 1,466 or 8.48% in District 5
QUESTION: Who are the TOUWALAWOS on Saipan?
ANSWER: "Touwalawos" is just a fun word we coined here at to name a special group of people who have a distinctly different perspective and opinion of Saipan that one can only get by actually living here. It stands for "Those Of Us Who Actually Live And Work On Saipan." (It's an inside joke. No one else on Saipan will know what you're talking about!)
QUESTION: Is Saipan an overly congested country?
ANSWER:Are you kidding me??! With only 53,467 people on a piece of land that's twice the size of Manhattan island, Saipan is far from congested! There are certain elementary schools, apartment complexes and sports events stateside that have more people than there are in the entire CNMI! While there's a daily "rush hour" traffic report on one of the radio stations, anyone accustomed to a really big city rush hour will find this a drive through the park!
Languages [toc | faq]
Saipan has THREE official languages: Chamorro, Carolinian and English. English is the most widely used language. However, one of the great things about living on Saipan is your access to people and cultures from all over the world. Language-wise, Chamorro, Carolinian, Chuukese, Tagalog (Philippines), Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (China), Russian, Bengali (Bangladeshi), Sinhalese and Tamil (Sri Lanka), English, and other languages are all spoken here
Religions [toc | faq]
Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and others, I am sure.

Churches [toc | faq]
Calvary Christian, Chinese Christian, Seventh Day Adventist, Church of Christ, Church of Latter Day Saints, Ba'hai, Muslim Mosques, Jehovah Witnesses Kingdom Hall, Jesson Presbyterian, Korean Catholic Church, Korean Presbyterian, Kristo Rai Church, Marianas Baptist, Mount Carmel Cathedral, Pacific Presbyterian, Palau Evangelical, Saipan Community Church, World Mission Church..
Catholic Church on Saipan

Mosque on Saipan
Indigenous Culture [toc | faq]
The Host Culture
The indigenous population--what we refer to as the "host culture"--are the Chamorro and Carolinian people. Archaeologists are discovering that some of the oldest civilizations on the planet are in this region of the world known as Micronesia. According Ancient Chamorro Society by Lawrence J. Cunningham:

Modified excerpt from the Saipan Living Relocation Guide. For more details and depth, order here from


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