CNMI Profile


The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a chain of 14 islands in the Pacific situated on the eastern boundary of the Philippine Sea. The archipelago stretches approximately 375 miles north and south and has a total land area of 176.5 square miles.


Political Status & Resident Citizenship

The CNMI is the newest member of the American political family having received Commonwealth status with the signing of United States Public Law 94-241 on March 24, 1976 by President Gerald Ford enacting the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America (the Covenant). Some provisions of the Covenant took effect on the date of signing with other provisions taking effect on January 9, 1978 and November 4, 1986. United States citizenship was conferred on qualified residents on the latter of the three dates.



The CNMI government is headed by a governor and lieutenant governor. The CNMI has a non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives; the delegate votes only at the committee level. The CNMI has a bicameral legislature with an 20-member House of Representatives and a 9-member Senate. The CNMI’s three branches of government include the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.


People and Cultural Mix

With a history of occupation by Spain, Germany, Japan and the United States, along with its close proximity to Asia, it’s no wonder that the CNMI has developed a truly international character. The CNMI’s total populatioon in 2010 was 53,883. The indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians speak their native languages as well as English. The remainder of the population is comprised of Americans, Filipinos, Palauans, Yapese, Marshallese, Pohpeian, Kosraean, Native Hawaiians, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Russian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, other Asians and Pacific Islanders.