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NASA satellite image of Saipan
NASA satellite image of Saipan
Waters Pacific Ocean
Archipelago Mariana Islands
Geographical location 15 ° 11 ′  N , 145 ° 44 ′  E Coordinates: 15 ° 11 ′  N , 145 ° 44 ′  E
Location of Saipan
length 22 km
width 9 km
surface 115.38 km²
Highest elevation Ogso Tagpochau
465  m
Residents 40,220 (2010)
349 inhabitants / km²
main place Garapan
Location in the Northern Mariana Islands
Location in the Northern Mariana Islands

After Guam, Saipan is the second largest island in the 650-kilometer chain of islands in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean .


The island is approximately 22 km long and 9 km wide. Saipan is about 200 km north of Guam . The highest mountain is the Ogso Tagpochau volcano with a height of 465 m above sea level. Garapan is the largest place on the island.

About 8 km southwest of Saipan, separated by the Saipan Channel , is the island of Tinian .

In geopolitical terms , Saipan is part of the US outskirts of the Northern Mariana Islands .


Saipan Island is said to have been settled for the first time more than 3000 years ago. The indigenous people were called Chamorro . With the landing of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, Saipan became a colony of Spain . From 1899 to 1914, the island was under German administration as part of the German New Guinea colony and was temporarily the seat of a separate district administrator for the Mariana Islands. Under German sovereignty, the coconut palm culture played a particularly economic role.

In 1914, during the First World War , Japanese troops occupied the island. The Japanese later fortified the island and stationed soldiers on Saipan. In 1941 there were about 30,000 soldiers on Saipan. The island gained fame mainly through the Battle of Saipan during the Second World War . It began on June 15, 1944 with the landing of US Marines on the southwest coast of Saipan and ended after three weeks with the conquest of the island by the Americans. The existing Japanese airfields were quickly expanded and new ones built. Saipan had a total of four airfields. The strategic bombing raids on Japan began on a large scale from the airfield called Isley Field . One of these 2650 m long runways is now Saipan International Airport . The airfields Kagman AFB and Kobler AFB are now overbuilt and the Marpi Field base in the north of the island is overgrown. From Saipan, US troops also conquered the neighboring island of Tinian, about 8 km to the south . From there, the B-29 bombers Enola Gay and Bockscar started to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki . As late as 1952, Japanese soldiers were discovered on Saipan who had never received news of the end of the Second World War. On October 24, 2018, Typhoon Yutu crossed the neighboring island of Tinian and caused enormous devastation and damage there, as well as on Saipan. Saipan's ports and airport reopened a few days after the storm.



The majority of the Chamorro, Carolinians, and Filipinos are Catholic . Some churches operate in multiple languages ​​such as English , Chamorro , Tagalog , Korean, and Chinese . For example, more than 200 Jehovah's Witnesses hold their meetings (services) in English, American Sign Language , Korean, and Standard Chinese . There is also a Buddhist temple on the island. Most of the population from Bangladesh is of Muslim faith.


During the colonial rule of Japan , the sugar and fish industries were significantly promoted. Today tourism and the textile industry are the economic pillars of Saipan. The island is a so-called tax haven . As the outer territory of the United States , Saipan is exempt from some US laws, most notably in social and immigration law. As a result, the average wage in the textile industry was about half the US minimum wage .

This affected about 30,000 workers employed in the textile industry. In January 1999, US unions and associations drafted a class action lawsuit on behalf of textile workers because they were treated like slaves. In April 2003, 27 textile companies and dealers, including GAP , Tommy Hilfiger , Abercrombie & Fitch and Ralph Lauren one, comparison over 20 million US dollars negotiated. Only Levi Strauss & Co. refused to accept the comparison. In January 2004 the case against the company was closed.


As a result of a storm sank on the southwest tip of Saipan on September 20, 1638, the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de la Concepción , which was on the voyage from Manila to Acapulco . In 1987 numerous pieces of jewelry and other items were recovered from the wreck .

The Oleai Sports Complex is located in Saipan and offers training and competition facilities for soccer, athletics, baseball, volleyball and basketball.


  • Pedro Tenorio (1934-2018), American politician; Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands

Picture gallery


  • Erich Kaiser : Contributions to the petrography and geology of the German South Sea Islands. In: Yearbook of the Royal Prussian Geological Institute and Mining Academy in Berlin for 1903. Volume XXIV, Berlin 1907, pp. 119–120 ( [PDF; 2.7 MB]).

Web links

Commons : Saipan  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Latest: Saipan airport reopens for limited service. In: The Washington Post . October 27, 2018, accessed on October 29, 2018 (English, restricted access).