Northern Mariana Islands
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When Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan made landfall at the Marianas in 1521, he was searching for the Spice Islands. After taking on water and provisions, Magellan departed, but not before naming the islands after Mariana, the Queen of Spain. At the time of Magellan's arrival a strong indigenous population of Chamorros and Carolinians already inhabited the three main islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota, and to a lesser extent, the ten smaller northern islands. Anthropologists generally agree that these first inhabitants migrated to The Marianas from Southwest Asia around 1500 BC.
Located in the western Pacific, the Northern Marianas are the tips of massive undersea mountains of both limestone uplift and volcanic origin. Its towns and cities rest against a backdrop of verdant forest or aquamarine waters. The three main islands have their own unique personalities, Saipan is the largest island, and the capitol, most of the island remains rural. Tinian and Rota offer a quiet respite, though they offer modern conveniences, these islands embody the charm and simplicity of rural life "the way it used to be"
North of the main islands lies an archipelago of sparsely inhabited smaller islands. Some are volcanically active and many host huge bird populations - Farallon De Medinilla, Anatahan, Sarigan, Guguan, Alamagan, Pagan, Agrihan, Asuncion, Maug and Farallon De Pajaros may be reached by charter boat, helicopter or small plane.
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