29¢ Commonwealth North Mariana Islands
Issue Date: November 4, 1993
City: Saipan, MP
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
A group of 16 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Islands were first discovered by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Originally called the Ladrones Islands (Thieves Islands), these islands were colonized by the Spanish Jesuits in 1668, and their name was changed to honor Mariana of Austria, then regent of Spain. Until 1898 Spain governed the islands.
Following the Spanish-American War, Guam was ceded to the United States and the remaining islands were sold to Germany. Japan gained control of the islands in 1914 and they later became a Japanese mandate from the League of Nations in 1919.
Seized by the U.S. during World War II, the islands became part of a trusteeship granted to the United States by the U.N. in 1947. In 1978, the Marianas chose to become a self-governing commonwealth. As a commonwealth, the islands’ government controls their internal affairs, but the U.S. remains responsible for foreign affairs and defense.
A limestone column with a pediment of limestone, latte stones were once used by the native islanders to support their homes. These stones are featured on both the stamp, as well as the front of this cover.