Capital city: Saipan
Currency: United States dollar (USD)
GDP: USD$682 million
GDP per capita: USD$12,669
The Northern Mariana Islands comprise a United States territory, consisting of 15 islands in the Mariana Archipelago (located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean). The islands are a mixture of limestone, fringing coral reefs, and volcanoes (several are active, with the 'Anatahan Volcano' last erupting in 2005).
The first European explorer of the area, the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, arrived in 1521 (and claimed the archipelago for Spain). Following its loss during the Spanish–American War of 1898, Spain sold the Marianas to Germany (under the German–Spanish Treaty of 1899).
Near the end of World War II (June 1944), the United States military invaded the Mariana Islands, starting the Battle of Saipan. Of the 30,000 Japanese troops defending Saipan, fewer than 1,000 remained alive at the battle's end. After Japan's defeat in World War II, the Northern Marianas were administered by the United States according to Security Council Resolution 21. In 1975 commonwealth status was achieved with political union with the United States.
Although the United States federal laws apply to the Northern Mariana Islands, in practice the rules are primarily locally determined. As a result, the US income tax laws, federal minimum wages, and immigration laws do not apply to Northern Mariana Island residents.
Non-residents of the Northern Mariana Islands are only taxed on their Northern Mariana Islands sourced income.