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How many more islands are in the Marianas and what are the names?

  • Published
  • By Joyce I. Martratt
  • 36th Wing
You know how stimulating it was to research such a question ... I am from Guam, and it proves how much I need to know more about what's in my neighborhood. In the Mariana Archipelago, with exception of Guam, there is the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas. 

In my research from historical and scientific findings, I have learned there are 14 islands within the CNMI. 

They are as follows:

Rota is 37 miles northeast of Guam, 56 miles southwest of Tinian and is the southernmost island in CNMI. The two primary communities are Sinapalo and Song Song. During World War II, Rota was spared the wrath of war and retains its vegetations and natural environment. Rota has the largest percentage of Chamorros when compared to Guam, Tinian and Saipan. Rota is a smaller island, but can be a haven of quiet vacation on a weekend. The people are hospitable, and Rota's economy is awakening as tourism is becoming very important.

Aguijan, or Aguigan, is also in the southern part of CNMI. This small island is 5 miles southwest of Tinian; both form the Tinian Municipality. It's an island seldom visited and was under German control until it was turned over to the Japanese after World War II. Feral goats were brought in and because of that, it was also called Goat Island. Another interesting fact - this Japanese garrison was surrendered to the U.S. Coast Guard on Sept. 4, 1944. Naftan Rock, an islet close to Aguigan, was used as an unexploded ordnance and a bombing target site.

Tinian is also in southern CNMI, 2 and a half miles south of Saipan and 99 miles north of Guam. The popular fishing site is Tatsumi Reef, 1.8 miles southeast of Tinian and San Jose is the major community area. Tinian was known to grow and process sugarcane up to World War II. Today, Tinian has a casino which provides a major source of revenue for Tinian and Saipan. Transportation between the two islands are via boat or air.

Saipan is 2 and a half miles from Tinian and located in the southern portion of CNMI. Among the eight communities, the main population centers are Garapan and Chalan Kanoa. Since about four centuries ago, the island was populated by Chamorros, was under Spanish and then German rule until 1914. The island was also a major sugarcane and processing center until World War II. Saipan was hammered in fierce battle in WWII. The losses on both sides - Americans and Japanese - were great. Today, Saipan also works on tourist s to improve the economy; it is sluggish. Another source of income is the large offshore anchorage of commercial and military ships. MARPI is located 17 miles of Saipan and considered a popular fishing site.

The other islands in the CNMI within the Marianas are Anatahan, Sarigan, Guguan, Alamagan, Pagan, Agrihan, Asuncion, Maug, Supply Reef and Uracas. I will continue next week with bits and pieces of these other islands.

si Joyce I. Martratt

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