The Chamorro people in the Mariana Islands evolved along the same paths as their cousins in Guam from the time of their initial arrival sometime between 2000 and 1500 B.C. to the end of the 19th century (see Guam).
After the Spanish-American War Spain sold the Northern Marianas to Germany in 1899.
Fifteen years later, WW I provided the occasion for Japan to occupy the Northern Marianas in 1914 and they became a Japanese mandate from the league of Nations in 1919. Japanese, Okinawan, and Korean immigrants eventually came to outnumber the islanders by a ratio of two to one. Sugar, fishing, and other industries were developed, and the copra industry was greatly expanded.
After 30 years of Japanese occupation, they were seized by the United States in World War II and became part of the Pacific Islands Trust Territory granted to the United States by the United Nations in 1947.
After 20 years of American presence, the Chamorro opted out of the US Trust in 1975 and voted to become the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, an integral part of the United States. With commonwealth status, the Chamorros became American citizens and added English words to their vocabulary. By that time, they had been subjected to so many outside influences that they had little in common with with the other Micronesian islanders,
Now, the Northern Marianas have a well-developed tourist trade and a sophisticated economy. The population is mixed, highly urbanized and concentrated on the island of Saipan, the capital.
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Here is the West Coast of Saipan, where all the action is, from Agingan Point in the foreground to Garapan in the distance. The airport is on the right.
This is the airport.
I first stayed at the Paradise Hotel on Middle Road but it was too isolated for my taste and I moved to the Micro Beach Hotel, across the street from the Hyatt in the center of Garapan.
The Micro Beach was the same price as the Paradise (35 $US), but it was more conveniently located close to shops, bars and restaurants.
The American Memorial Park honours the important role the Northern Marianas played in WW II. In June 1944 American forces under Admiral Spruance (four carrier and one battleship groups), preparing to invade the Marianas were met by the Japanese combined fleet under Admiral Ozawa seeking a decisive battle. The air battle that ensued was so decisive that it put an end to Japanese seaborne airpower and became known as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". More than 400 Japanese aircraft were destroyed at a cost of 127 US planes.
Relics of World War II
I was curious about this place that looked like the temple of some esoteric cult but it turned out to be only a nightclub.
Of course, Garapan had a nice Marina.
There were very few people in the big pool of the Hyatt hotel.
The beautiful gardens of the Hyatt Hotel were also almost empty.
And so was the Hyatt's beach of course.
Here's another view of the empty Micro Point Beach.
There's not much to see in Saipan except fancy hotels and expensive shops. I made the rounds and visited several of them but frankly, there is nothing more depressing than an empty shopping center. I thought Guam was bad in that respect but Saipan was even worse...