Richard and I will be doing a presentation about our upcoming mission trip to Saipan in church on May 8th. Since I’ve been busy organizing information for that, I decided that I’d also use it to answer some of our most frequently asked questions here. As we haven’t actually been to Saipan yet, all of this is information that I’ve gathered from other websites.
Where is Saipan?
Saipan is the capital as well as the largest and most populated of the 15 tiny islands that make up the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands which stretches 400 miles along the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. It’s 15 degrees north of the equator and is located 120 miles north of Guam and due east of the northernmost island of the Philippines. It’s about a three and a half hour flight from Tokyo.
How big is it?
Saipan is about 12.5 miles long & 5.5 miles wide with a total land area of about 46.5 square miles. I was astonished to discover that it would fit into our county almost 34 times! It is surrounded by approximately 54 miles of coastline with about 14 miles of beach.
What’s the weather like?
Saipan is a tropical island with a warm humid climate. It holds the Guiness World Record for the most consistent temperature with the average difference between day and night being greater than the difference between summer and winter! The average temperature year-round is 27C and the year is basically divided into the wet season from July to November and the dry season from December to June.
What languages are spoken on Saipan?
There are three official languages; English, Chamorro and Carolinian but many other languages are also spoken. Because Saipan is an American territory, English is the language of business, schools and the church.
When Richard and I volunteered for short term missions, we anticipated that language would prevent us from being able to do the kind of ministry that we’ll be doing on Saipan. We expected to end up in a country where we didn’t speak the language and where we’d be asked to do the kinds of tasks that would free up the resident missionaries to minister to the local people. God clearly had a different plan and we’re very excited to be a part of it.
What’s the population?
The most recent census figure that I could find is over ten years old. It gives the population as approximately 62 000 people but that may have changed significantly by now. If so, I suspect that it’s lower as the downturn in the economy has seriously affected Saipan’s tourist trade. In addition to the indigenous population, many other cultures & nationalities are represented on Saipan including Americans, Filipinos, Koreans, Chinese, Thai & Japanese.
What is the main religion of Saipan?
The majority of the island’s population is Roman Catholic but many other faiths are also represented.
Do you have any other questions? If so, I’ll try to answer them now and if I can’t, perhaps they’ll give me ideas to blog about while we’re there!