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Northern Mariana Islands Government Profile

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Country name
conventional long form: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
conventional short form: Northern Mariana Islands
former: Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Mariana Islands District
abbreviation: CNMI
etymology: formally claimed and named by Spain in 1667 in honor of the Spanish Queen, MARIANA of Austria
Dependency status
commonwealth in political union with and under the sovereignty of the US; federal funds to the Commonwealth administered by the US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs
Government type
republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; a commonwealth in political union with and under the sovereignty of the US
Capital
name: Saipan
geographic coordinates: 15 12 N, 145 45 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: the entire island of Saipan is organized as a single municipality and serves as the capital; according to legend, when the first native voyagers arrived in their outrigger canoes they found an uninhabited island; to them it was like an empty voyage, so they named the island "saay" meaning "a voyage," and "peel" meaning "empty"; over time Saaypeel - "island of the empty voyage" - became Saipan
Administrative divisions
none (commonwealth in political union with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 4 municipalities at the second order: Northern Islands, Rota, Saipan, Tinian
Independence
none (commonwealth in political union with the US)
National holiday
Commonwealth Day, 8 January (1978)
Constitution
history: partially effective 9 January 1978 (Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); fully effective 4 November 1986 (Covenant Agreement)
amendments: proposed by constitutional convention, by public petition, or by the Legislature; ratification of proposed amendments requires approval by voters at the next general election or special election; amendments proposed by constitutional convention or by petition become effective if approved by a majority of voters and at least two-thirds majority of voters in each of two senatorial districts; amendments proposed by the Legislature are effective if approved by majority vote; amended several times, last in 2012
Legal system
Citizenship
see United States
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal; note - indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch
chief of state: President Donald J. TRUMP (since 20 January 2017); Vice President Michael R. PENCE (since 20 January 2017)
head of government: Governor Ralph TORRES (since 29 December 2015); Lieutenant Governor Victor HOCOG (since 29 December 2015)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by an Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state; president and vice president serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); under the US Constitution, residents of the Northern Mariana Islands do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor directly elected by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed; election last held on 13 November 2018 (next to be held in 2022)
election results: Ralph TORRES elected governor; percent of vote - Ralph TORRES (Republican) 62.2%, Juan BABAUTA (Independent) 37.8%;  Arnold PALACIOS elected Lieutenant Governor
Legislative branch
description: bicameral Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature consists of:
Senate (9 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
House of Representatives (20 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms)

the Northern Mariana Islands directly elects 1 delegate to the US House of Representatives by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term
elections:
CNMI Senate - last held on 8 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
CNMI House of Representatives - last held on 13 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)
Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands delegate to the US House of Representatives  - last held on 13 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2020)
election results:
CNMI Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 6, independent 3; composition - men 8, women 1, percent of women 11.1%
CNMI House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 13, independent 7; composition - men 17, women 3, percent of women 15%; note - total CNMI Legislature percent of women 13.8%

delegate to US House of Representatives - seat won by Democratic Party; composition - 1 man
note: the Northern Mariana Islands delegate to the US House of Representatives can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the "Committee of the Whole House" but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote
Judicial branch
highest courts: Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) (consists of the chief justice and 2 associate justices); US Federal District Court (consists of 1 judge); note - US Federal District Court jurisdiction limited to US federal laws; appeals beyond the CNMI Supreme Court are referred to the US Supreme Court
judge selection and term of office: CNMI Supreme Court judges appointed by the governor and confirmed by the CNMI Senate; judges appointed for 8-year terms and another term if directly elected in a popular election; US Federal District Court judges appointed by the US president and confirmed by the US Senate; judges appointed for renewable 10-year terms
subordinate courts: Superior Court
Political parties and leaders
Democratic Party [Daniel QUITUGUA]
Republican Party [James ADA]
International organization participation
PIF (observer), SPC, UPU
Diplomatic representation from the US
embassy: none (commonwealth in political union with the US)       
Flag description
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
National symbol(s)
latte stone; national colors: blue, white
National anthem
name: "Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi" (In the Middle of the Sea)
lyrics/music: Jose S. PANGELINAN [Chamoru], David PETER [Carolinian]/Wilhelm GANZHORN

note: adopted 1996; the Carolinian version of the song is known as "Satil Matawal Pacifico;" as a commonwealth of the US, in addition to the local anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)


Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on Friday, November 27, 2020