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Northern Mariana Islands - Culture

Northern Mariana Islands Culture

The Northern Marianas is the fastest growing area in Micronesia. The population has shot from just under 10,000 in 1970 to over 50,000 today, about half of which are resident aliens, mostly from the Philippines, China and Korea. Roughly 75% of the native population is Chamorro, the rest Carolinian. The local culture is a hybrid of native and Spanish colonial influences, with a powerful overlay of popular American trends.

English is the official language, though Chamorro and Carolinian are the native tongues and are widely spoken. You'll hear Japanese in most hotels and some shops. Hafa adai is the traditional greeting, though the slang term howzit is becoming nearly as common.

The predominant religion of the Northern Marianas is Roman Catholic, especially among the Chamorros and Filipino immigrants. Most cultural activities center around the Catholic church and religious festivities, including annual fiestas in honor of each village's patron saint. There are also Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Korean Presbyterian, Evangelical and Seventh-Day Adventist churches.

Dance in the Marianas ranges from a Spanish-influenced cha-cha popular among the Chamorros to the 'stick dance,' a Carolinian import combining stick beating and foot shuffling.

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