Saipan (sĪˈpăn, sĪpänˈ) [key], volcanic island (2010 pop. 48,220), 47 sq mi (122 sq km), W Pacific, capital of the Northern Mariana Islands. It is mountainous; the highest peak is Mt. Tagpochau (1,526 ft/465 m). Clothing was the main export, but the industry died (2005–9) after trade quotas were ended. Sugarcane, coffee, citrus fruits, and coconuts are grown, and the island has phosphate and manganese deposits. The main campus of Northern Marianas College is on the island. Saipan, with the other Marianas, was mandated to Japan in 1920 by the League of Nations. In World War II the island (site of a Japanese airbase) was taken by U.S. forces in 1944 and became a base for air attacks on the Japanese mainland. From 1953 to 1962 Saipan was used to train Nationalist Chinese guerrillas for infiltration of the Chinese mainland.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pacific Islands Political Geography