Municipalities of Northern Mariana Islands

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I added the populations from the 2010 census.

In "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries", I wrote that the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands is Garapan. I recently received a question about that datum. Garapan was listed as the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands when it was a district of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Most current reference sources show Saipan as the capital.

This is the situation: Saipan is the largest island in the Northern Mariana Islands, both in area and population. It is also one of the four municipalities into which the country is divided. According to the CIA World Factbook, the U.S. Government considers that the country has no first-order administrative divisions, and the municipalities are its second-order administrative divisions. There are a number of populated places on Saipan, sometimes referred to as cities or communities. They include San Antonio (currently the largest, with a 2000 population of 4,741), Chalan Kanoa, Garapan, Susupe, and Capital Hill, among others. Capital Hill seems to be the location of the legislature. The judiciary recently moved to Susupe.

In view of these facts, I think Saipan is a better choice. I originally avoided Saipan because it was the name of an island, and capitals should be cities. If we consider Saipan to be the municipality, that's close enough to being a city.

Country overview: 

ISO codeMP
LanguageEnglish (en)
Time zone+10


Guam is geographically one of the Mariana Islands (the southernmost), but has been politically separate during the 20th century. Germany bought almost all of Micronesia, including the Marianas but excluding Guam, from Spain in the 1890s. The islands were mandated to Japan in 1920 by the League of Nations. The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was created on 1947-04-02 and granted in trust to the United States. This territory was divided into districts, one of which was the Northern Mariana Islands. Eventually a referendum was held on its status. As a result, on 1978-01-01, the Northern Mariana Islands became a commonwealth of the United States.

Other names of country: 

  1. Dutch: Noordelijke Marianen
  2. English: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (formal)
  3. French: ╬les fp Mariannes du Nord
  4. German: N÷rdliche Marianen
  5. Italian: [Isole fp] Marianne Settentrionali, Isole Marianne del Nord
  6. Portuguese: Comunidade f das Ilhas fp Marianas fp do Norte m (formal)
  7. Russian: Северные Марианские острова
  8. Spanish: Islas fp Marianas del Norte, Commonwealth de las Islas fp Marianas del Norte (formal)
  9. Turkish: Kuzey Meryem Adaları

Origin of name: 

named in honor of Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (called Mariana in Spanish), regent of Spain vice her son, Charles II

Primary subdivisions: 

The Northern Mariana Islands are divided into four municipalities.

Northern IslandsMP.NI085063617160
4 municipalities53,88369,22143,345471182


FIPS 6-4 codes represent second-level administrative divisions of the United States. The codes for the Northern Mariana Islands in FIPS PUB 5-2 are MP (alpha) and 69 (numeric). When the FIPS 5-2 and 6-4 codes are concatenated, as in 69100 for Rota, the result is a code that uniquely identifies a county-equivalent unit in the United States.

Territorial extent: 

The commonwealth is divided approximately as follows, from south to north: 14░ N., Rota, 14░30' N., Tinian, 15░5' N., Saipan, 15░20' N., Northern Islands, 21░ N.

The UN LOCODE page  for Northern Mariana Islands lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Other names of subdivisions: 

Rota: Luta (variant)


  1. [1] CNMI population down 22.2 pct. . Saipan Tribune (dated 2011-08-26, retrieved 2013-06-03).
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