Saipan is a small island in the western Pacific Ocean,1,500 miles south of Japan. There is archeological evidence of habitation by the indigenous Chamorro people 4,000 years before European settlement. Spanish explorers in the 1520s were the first to come across Saipan. They formally occupied the island in the 1660s, and it became a port of call for Spanish, and occasional English, Dutch and French ships, as a supply station for food and water.
Farming, early 19thc. print. The native population subsequently shrank dramatically due to European-introduced diseases and conflicts over land. After the Spanish-American war in 1898, Saipan was occupied by the United States. In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Japan captured the island. In the 1920s large-scale sugar plantations were developed by Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese immigrants. The island was administered by the US from 1945 until 1978 when it became part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In addition to the tourist industry, clothing is manufactured on the island for US companies including Levi Strauss, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Walmart. The diverse population, and the many tourists who visit the island, enjoy a wide range of music and dance from traditional Chamorro, to popular music from the US/Hawaii, and from Asia. The current population of the island is approximately 48,000. Traditional Chamorro music and dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udMofnjvaMY International Festival of Cultures- Saipan International Festival of Cultures- Saipan The next post takes us to Japan