Self-governing US Commonwealth Territory (incorporated). Gained internal autonomy in 1986.
Head of state:
President George W Bush since 2000.
Head of government:
Governor Benigno Fitial since 2006.
The Northern Mariana Islands consist of a chain of 14 islands nearly 89km (55 miles) in length. Volcanic in origin, they host a variety of scenery including beautiful bays, spectacular cliffs, caves and mountains. Because of their location they played a significant part in WWII, and the many shipwrecks around the coast bear witness to this. These, the numerous coral reefs and the clear water make them particularly good for diving.