Leslie Ray Ware


The Island of Saipan

Saipan is the largest island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. The Commonwealth consists of a chain of fifteen tropical islands belonging to the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. Saipan is located at (15°10’51”N, 145°45’21”E) and has a total area of 44.55 sq mi (115.4 km2). According to the 2010 United States Census, Saipan's population was 48,220.

The western side of the island is lined with sandy beaches and an offshore coral reef which creates Tanapag lagoon. The eastern shore is composed primarily of rugged rocky cliffs and a reef. Its highest point is a limestone covered mountain called Mount Tapochau at 1,560 ft (480 m). Many people mistakenly believe Mount Tapochau to be an extinct volcano, but it is in fact a limestone formation. To the north of Mount Tapochau towards Banzai Cliff is a ridge of hills. Mount Achugao, situated about 2 miles north, has been interpreted to be a remnant of a stratified composite volcanic cone whose Eocene center was not far north of the present peak.

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