LIFE ON SAIPAN : The Island
Undoubtedly, one of the most attractive features of Saipan is the lifestyle. The sense of community, the cultural emphasis on relationships, and the myriad recreational activities enrich life here. We have put together this section to give you a brief overview, and to answer many of your questions.
Saipan is the major island of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and is part of the US political family. It is a land of natural tropical beauty, and is a major tourist destination for tourists from Japan and other parts of Asia. The temperatures year round are in the mid to upper 80s. The island has a population of some 69,000 people with a huge amount of ethnic diversity. Approximately 19,000 people are Pacific Islanders; 36,000 Asians (predominantly from the Philippines and China); 1,000 Caucasians; and 6,000 of mixed ethnicity. A smattering of a wide variety of other ethnic groups round out the numbers.
The island is fairly modern, with paved roads, modern homes, good healthcare, safe conditions, and daily international flights. There is a strong sense of community.
The pace is relaxed and casual.
The CNMI is part of the region of the Pacific known as “Micronesia”. The islands of Micronesia, protected by sandy beaches and coral reefs, sit in the Pacific Ocean – 2,300 miles north of Australia, 2,000 miles south of Japan, 2,000 miles east of the Philippines, and 2,500 miles west of Hawaii. The total area of Micronesia (water included) is equivalent to that of the continental United States – but its land mass is only 1,000 square miles or about one half the size of the state of Rhode Island.
The Northern Marianas, one part of Micronesia, stretches Northward from Guam for about 400 miles and constitute the highest slopes of a massive mountain range rising six miles high off the ocean floor. The largest islands in the group are Saipan, Tinian and Rota, with Saipan being the largest. Saipan has an area of 48 square miles (124 square kilometers).
With the exception of an occasional typhoon, the Mariana Islands enjoy some of the most moderate weather in the world. Temperatures rarely rise above the high 80s and even more rarely drop below the high 70s. High humidity takes some of the moderation out of this picture, but most public buildings and private homes and apartments are air conditioned.
Most people adjust to the humidity fairly quickly. A rainy season generally lasts from June to September, though this is more likely to feature showers on and off during the day rather than the soaking rains experienced in some tropical areas. It is unusual to go more than two consecutive days without some period of blue skies and sunshine, even during the rainy season. With modern methods of tracking storms, typhoons have become very predictable natural phenomena, normally tracked for days in advance of their arrival. Homes and public buildings are designed with typhoons in mind and the government and members of the community are well prepared to deal with them.