/suy pan"/, n.an island in and the capital of the North Mariana Islands in the N Pacific, about 1350 mi. (2173 km) S of Japan: taken by U.S. forces June-July 1944. 14,000; 71 sq. mi. (184 sq. km).
* * *It has an area of 42 sq mi (109 sq km). Its chief settlement, Chalan Kanoa, is the Northern Marianas' commonwealth centre. Ruled by Spain (1565–1899), it then passed to Germany (1899–1914). It was a Japanese mandate from 1920, but in 1944 during World War II it was captured by U.S. forces after fierce fighting. It subsequently was the headquarters of the U.S.-administered UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (terminated 1990). Copra is the island's chief product.
* * *island, one of the Mariana Islands, part of the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States, in the western Pacific Ocean. Saipan served as headquarters of the U.S.-administered United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Pacific Islands, Trust Territory of the) from 1962 to 1986. The island is hilly, rising to an elevation of 1,545 feet (471 metres) at Mount Takpochao (or Tagpochau); it is 14 miles (23 km) long and 5 miles (8 km) across at its widest point. Broad inlets (Laolao [Magicienne] Bay and Tanapag Harbor) are on both its sides. The smaller island of Tinian lies immediately southwest across the Saipan Channel.Saipan was under Spanish sovereignty from 1565 to 1899 and came under German rule from 1899 to 1914. It was made a Japanese mandate in 1920. During World War II, the successful U.S.-led Allied invasion and capture of the island (June–July 1944) was one of the fiercest land battles in the Pacific theatre. Some 3,500 U.S. troops died in the fighting, and nearly all of the 30,000 Japanese defenders were killed; thousands of Japanese civilians also died, many jumping to their deaths off Banzai Cliff, at the northern end of the island, rather than face capture. Saipan became an important U.S. military air base during the last year of the war, and between 1953 and 1962 it was under U.S. naval jurisdiction.The seat of government of the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is on Saipan; the executive and legislative branches are headquartered at Capital Hill, and the judiciary meets at Susupe. Subsistence crops include taro, cassava, yams, breadfruit, and bananas. Tourism and its related industries are Saipan's economic mainstay. Saipan has a commercial dock and an international airport. Area 46.5 square miles (120 square km). Pop. (2000) 62,392.
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