January 8 – Commonwealth Day in the Northern Marianas

Posted on January 8, 2014

Taxation without representation?

On this date in 1978, the Northern Marianas Islands achieved commonwealth status under the United States—the same legal status as Puerto Rico. That means that President Barack Obama is the president of these fifteen islands in the Pacific Ocean—but the people are not allowed to vote in presidential elections! There is a representative from the commonwealth serving in the House of Representatives, but he or she is not allowed to vote on the floor. However, the people are able to vote for their local government, including their governor, so there definitely is self-rule. And there is a CNMI (local to the islands) tax department—so the people of the Northern Marianas do not face “taxation without representation.”
Notice that the Marianas are east of the Philippines,
and north of Indonesia and Australia.

Also, the people of CNMI have chosen to have close ties with the U.S.; when Guam would not agree to integrate with the Northern Marianas Islands, as the NM Islanders wanted, the islanders voted against independence and for commonwealth status.

The Marianas Trench is deeper than
Mt. Everest is high!
Islands near the deep...

Just to the east of the Mariana Islands is the deepest part of the earth's crust, the Mariana Trench. In that location the ancient Pacific plate is plunging downward, under the Marians plate. The friction of rocks rubbing together during this slo-mo plunge causes the rocks to melt and volcanoes to form. The islands are volcanoes that have built up high enough to emerge from the ocean. Some of the islands have been further built outwards by teeny animals called corals, which have created fringing reefs around some of the islands.

Some of the creatures of the deep are beautiful!
  • Learn more about the Marianas trench here.
  • Check out some of the stranger critters that live in the waaaayyy deeeeep here
  • Here is a much longer video about the Marianas Trench. 
  • Now learn about the CNMI coral reefs here.  Notice that one of the dive sites on Saipan is named Ice Cream!

Some, not so much!
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