NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
In the 1970s, it was decided no longer to strive for complete independence, but to forge a closer relationship with the United States. In 1975, a referendum was held to decide on Commonwealth status for the United States. The islands are governed by a governor and are largely autonomous; defence and foreign relations are the responsibility of the United States. The new government and constitution took effect in 1978.
With the same status as Puerto Rico, for example, the Northern Mariana Islands have stronger ties to the United States than, for example, Guam. The Northern Mariana Islands have its own governor, a lieutenant governor and a parliament with nine senators, Saipan, Tinian and Rota three each, and fifteen representatives, thirteen from Saipan and one each from Tinian and Rota. Senators are elected for four years and deputies for two years. Each main island has its own mayor. Although the residents of the Northern Mariana Islands are officially citizens of the United States, they do not have the right to vote in presidential elections. The Northern Mariana Islands are represented in the US Congress by an observer who can, of course, engage in lobbying and presentations. For the current political situation, see the history chapter.
Education in Micronesia is generally free up to and including high school, but on most islands school is compulsory only until the age of 14. Higher education is only available in the main towns. The only university is the University of Guam, where many students from other islands also study. The largest university in the South Pacific is that of Fiji, with branches on Tarawa, Majuro and Nauru. The university is known for its marine laboratory. Education in the Northern Mariana Islands suffers from a severe shortage of teachers and educators, and teaching staff are currently being recruited from the Philippines. This shortage is caused by the very high population growth rate of more than 4% per year on average.
Galbraith, K. / Micronesia
Levy, N. / Micronesia handbook
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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