Did You Know? The Northern Marianas

July 22, 2019

Geography & Culture of the Northern Marianas

Located in the continent of Oceania and 14 islands north of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands consist of 15 volcanic islands that run north-south of the eastern side of the Marianas Trench. The Mariana Islands archipelago is part of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana (IBM) arc system – a tetonic-plate convergent boundary – that is also the site of the biggest gash in Earth’s solid surface, known as the Challenger Deep. The islands were the first Pacific group colonized by a European nation; first by Spain (1565-1899) and then by Germany (1899-1914) before shifting to Japan in 1914 and then to the US during WWII. The islands of Saipan and Tinian were the sites of some of the bloodiest battles of the war fought in the Pacific. Tinian was the launch site of the only atomic weapon ever used in warfare in August 1945.

The CHamorro people are the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, politically divided between the United States territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Micronesia. The CHamorro language is an Austronesian language; which, prior to the European colonial expansions of the past five centuries, were the most widely distributed languages extending 206 degrees of longitude from Madagascar to Easter Island.

Information & Image Sources:
Babauta, J. & Sobolewski, F. (2017). The Northern Mariana Islands and the American Family: Historical Timeline. Cebu City, Phillippines: Clavano Printers.
Spoehr, A. (2000). Saipan: The Ethnology of a War-Devastated Island. Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Division of Historical Preservation.
US Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (2019). Our District [online]. Available at: https://sablan.house.gov /our-district (Accessed: July 5, 2019)
Images: EarthJustice and Wikipedia

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