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Saipan MAP AND DESCRIPTION
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Saipan is the largest island of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a chain of fifteen tropical islands belonging to the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean (15°10’51”N, 145°45’21”E) with a total area of 44.55 sq mi (115.4 km²). According to the 2010 United States Census, Saipan's population was 48,220, a drop of 22.7% from the 2000 US Census; the population decrease is largely attributed to working immigrants and their families either returning to their home countries after the collapse of the garment industry or moving to other locations with economic opportunities such as Guam and the United States.

The Commonwealth's center of government is located in the village of Capital Hill on the island. As the entire island is organized as a single municipality, most publications term "Saipan" as the Commonwealth's capital.

Located at latitude of 15.25° north and longitude of 145.75° east, about 120 mi (190 km) north of Guam, Saipan is about 12 mi (19 km) long and 5.6 mi (9.0 km) wide. It is a popular tourist destination in the Pacific.

The western side of the island is lined with sandy beaches and an offshore coral reef which creates a large 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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