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Northern Mariana Islands

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Heaven II
Heaven II - dream vacation

PMB557 Box 10003, Capital Hill, Saipan

Saipan Guest House
Saipan Guest House - dream vacation

Pmb 283 P O Box10000 Saipan Mp, Garapan

Hotel Galleria Saipan
Hotel Galleria Saipan - dream vacation

P.O. Box 500148 Alaihai Ave, Garapan

Capital Hotel Saipan
Capital Hotel Saipan - dream vacation

Flooris Avenue, Garapan, Garapan

Kensington Hotel Saipan
Kensington Hotel Saipan - dream vacation

P O Box 5152 Chrb Saipan Mp96950, Saipan

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a territory of the United States. The islands are in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean, between Japan, the Philippines, and Palau.

Islands

Understand

History

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. 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.

Climate

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.

Terrain

Southern islands are limestone with level terraces and fringing coral reefs. Northern islands are volcanic.

Get in

Immigration to the CNMI was transferred to the US federal government in 2009. US citizens can enter with proof of citizenship (passport). Entry to the CNMI is permitted to all foreign nationals allowed into the rest of the US: travelers under the Visa Waiver Program & those with a valid US visa.

Additionally, the CNMI (along with Guam) participates in the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program. This program allows visa-free entry up to 45 days for citizens of Brunei, Malaysia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan (only on non-stop flights from Taiwan), & Hong Kong provided they have a valid passport, proof of return/onward travel, and is only valid to those arriving on commercial, scheduled flights. Citizens of some countries that are eligible for the federal Visa Waiver Program—Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, & the United Kingdom—are also allowed entry under the Guam-CNMI VWP and may enter under either program. Travel to other regions of the US outside CNMI & Guam under the Guam-CNMI V.W.P. is not allowed. Residents of Hong Kong must present a valid HK permanent identity card and are allowed entry with either a Hong Kong S.A.R. passport or British National (Overseas) passport. Residents of Taiwan must present a valid R.O.C. National Identification Card in addition to an R.O.C. passport. Citizens of Russia are eligible for parole (essentially the same as visa-free travel) to enter the Northern Marianas Islands (but not Guam). Because of differences in entry requirements, a full immigration check is done when traveling to/from Guam.

The CNMI is a separate customs jurisdiction from the rest of the U.S. Travelers (including US citizens coming from a point of origin in the US) pass through CNMI customs on entry.

By plane

The main international gateway into the Marianas is Saipan. There are frequent flights from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, but visitors from the US will have to connect in Guam or transit through the previous countries listed.

By boat

There are no scheduled ferry services to the islands. Occasionally yachts, cruise ships, or military vessels stop in port for a brief visit.

Get around

By plane

Scheduled flights on Cape Air/United Express connect Saipan to Guam several times a day and Rota 4 times a week. Freedom Airlines offers twice daily flights to Guam via Rota, in additional to a more frequent Tinian service. Three other islands have airstrips that can serve (expensive) chartered flights.

By boat

Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino runs a ferry service from Saipan to Tinian and back.

See

The CNMI has many World War II 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.

Do

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.

Talk

English is the official language and universally spoken, but 86% of the population speaks a language other than English at home, including the native languages Chamorro and Carolinian. Basic Japanese is also spoken by many in the tourist industry. Tagalog, Chinese and Korean are also used widely.

Buy

Money

The CNMI uses the U.S. dollar exclusively ("$", ISO code: USD). It is divided into 100 cents.

Costs and ATMs

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.

Eat

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 available.

Drink

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.

Sleep

Saipan's accommodation options are concentrated towards giant package hotels. Rack rates are often ludicrous but heavy discounts are available, especially outside the Japanese holiday seasons. Cheap motels are few, hostels are nonexistent, and camping is not recommended due to security concerns. Options are even more limited on Tinian and Rota.

Learn

Northern Marianas College is Saipan's community college option, and they have satellite campuses on Tinian and Rota. Public and private schools are also available for children from preschool age to high school.

Work

U.S. citizens can work freely without needing a permit; however citizens of most other nations need a permit from the Department of Labor. Most businesses prefer to employ Filipinos, and also citizens of Thailand, China, South Korea and Bangladesh. The minimum wage is $5.05 per hour.

Stay safe

Natural hazards : active volcanoes on Pagan and Agrihan; typhoons (especially August to November).

Crime : people have reported their cars being broken into in Saipan's tourist areas, and some people have also had their apartments or hotel rooms burgled. Don't leave valuables lying around and use common sense when walking around tourist areas, especially at night. That said, Saipan is safer than a lot of other destinations, with muggings and other violent crimes against tourists being extremely rare.

Stay healthy

The Commonwealth Health Center is Saipan's overburdened and understaffed public hospital. There are also many excellent but expensive private clinics. The Seventh-Day Adventist clinic is noted for their dental care and vision centre. Health care on the other islands is scarce.

Respect

Veneration of the elderly, ancestors, and departed family members is a large part of Chamorro culture. Always give respect to the older people in the room.

Cope

Countries that maintain a consular presence in the CNMI include Japan [1].

Connect

The Northern Marianas are part of the North American dialing plan. The country code is 1, and the local area code is 670.

Mail is handled by the U.S. Postal Service; the state code is MP and the postal code is 96950. The main post office branch is in Chalan Kanoa, other branches are in Capitol Hill as well as Tinian and Rota. Most hotels can send mail for you. DHL and FedEx also offer courier services.

Internet access is widely available. The top level domain for the Northern Marianas is .mp.

Go next

All departing travellers must pass through US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints; if you are continuing on to Guam, you need a US Passport, a valid US visa, or to be a citizen of a Visa Waiver Country as the US government controls Guam immigration.

Travellers returning to Japan from the Northern Marianas are not allowed to bring any US beef products (including beef jerky) due to current trade restrictions; any such products will be confiscated and destroyed by Japanese customs officials.

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Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Most Canadian visitors to the Northern Mariana Islands do not experience problems.

Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Local travel

Tourists can drive in the Northern Mariana Islands for 30 days using an internationally recognized driver’s licence (Canadian licences fall into this category). If you are staying longer than 30 days, you must obtain a local licence.

There is no public bus system on Saipan, but shuttles run between the major towns.

Air travel

Travel between the islands is done by airplane.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Oceanic Pacific Islands. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

For the latest Travel Health Notices and information on vaccinations, outbreaks and diseases, consult the website of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.

The Agency publishes travel health advice for the Northern Mariana Islands.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.

Climate

The Northern Marianas are subject to typhoons, especially from August to November. Resulting damage can be severe. The rainy season extends from July to October. There are active volcanoes on the islands of Pagan and Agrihan. Volcanic activity can cause minor earthquakes and tidal waves. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.