NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
(Northern Marianas, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Marianas)
- Location: Western Pacific
- Capital: Capital Hill
- Language(s): English, Chamorro, Carolinian
- Population: 92,053
- Total Area: 464 sq km
- Currency: United States Dollar
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Coconut milk is far more popular than alcoholic drinks.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: Not available
- Most Popular Drink(s): Coconut milk
The Northern Mariana Islands is a self-governing archipelago in the western region of the Pacific Ocean. It is a commonwealth in political association with the United States of America. The nation is made up of 22 coral and volcanic islands and an number of islets. Northern Marianas is a part of the larger Mariana Islands which also has Guam has a component. The name comes from the Mariana of Austria, who once ruled over Spain. Of all the islands making up the nation, the most important ones are Saipan, Tinian and Rota. Formerly called the Thieves Islands, the islands were colonized over the years by Spain, United States, Germany and Japan. This was to continue until the year 1978 when residents of the islands voted for self government. Today, the economy of the islands is supported by agriculture and tourism. The neighbors of the Northern Mariana Islands include Guam (mentioned above), the Federated States of Micronesia and Bonin Islands.
A vast majority of the residents of the islands are classified as Micronesians. This is a trend that I observed in other island nations of the Pacific Ocean. However, of all the Micronesians living in the Northern Mariana Islands, the Chamorros are clearly the majority. The Chamorros are the indigenous people of the islands (Guam inclusive) and make up about 60% of the population in the Northern Mariana Islands. They are related to the Indonesians, Mexicans, Spaniards and Filipinos and they speak a language called Chamorro. I learnt that Chamorro is unlike many of the other Micronesian languages and is quite unique. Most of the Chamorros are Christians. Most of the people are found on the island of Saipan. Chamorro is the main language but English is also widely spoken.
If there is anything that I thoroughly enjoyed in the Northern Marianas, it will be the food. These islands have some of the most impressive dishes not only in the Pacific region but also in the world. If you do not agree, all you need is a plate of kelagwin. This meal (merely remembering it makes my mouth water!) is a combination of chopped chicken and pieces of coconut taken with a soup full of spices. Honestly speaking, throughout my period of stay on the islands, a day did not pass without my plate of kelagwin and a bottle of malt drink to wash it down! As I write this, I actually feel like going back to Sankattan Siha Na Islas Marianas.
The most popular drink on the islands is coconut juice. You do not have to buy a jug of fresh coconut juice at all. All you need to do is to spot a coconut tree, climb (if you are good) or call a local to assist and get some ripe coconuts. Cut off the top with your hand knife and drink straight from the coconut. Nothing can be more refreshing in a tropical island than a mouthful of coconut milk!
Like in other islands of the Pacific/Oceania region, the residents of the Northern Mariana Islands are quite into sports and there are national teams for football and soccer. Beach soccer and aquatic sports like swimming and surfing are also quite popular.
- There are active volcanoes in some parts of the islands.
- The islands were once under Spanish, American, German and Japanese rule.
- The islands are ruled by a governor –not a president.
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).