This Northern Mariana Islands City Has Named The Murder Capital


The capital and largest city of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. Commonwealth made up of 14 islands in the Pacific Ocean, is Saipan, which has a population of about 52,000. Saipan is well known for its white sand beaches, coral reefs, and historical landmarks, but it has a less positive reputation due to its high crime rates, especially for violent crimes like murder.

Numbers of Crimes

According to the latest data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Saipan had 16 homicides in 2022, or 30.8 per 100,000 people. This number stands in sharp contrast to the 2020 national average of 4.8 per 100,000 persons in the United States. In 2022, Saipan overtook other U.S. territories and states in murder rates, including Puerto Rico (23.9), Louisiana (14.7), and Mississippi (12.7).

The murder rate on Saipan has increased noticeably in the last few years, reaching a peak of 30.8 in 2022 after rising from 10.4 in 2019 to 18.5 in 2020. A large percentage of these instances involve the use of illegal firearms, which is forbidden in the CNMI without the required license. The killings on Saipan are frequently motivated by gang warfare, drug trafficking, spousal abuse, and interpersonal disagreements.

Principal Causes and Consequences

Saipan has a high murder rate due to a number of variables, such as socioeconomic problems, corruption, unemployment, and insufficient law enforcement. Economic challenges, compounded by the fall of the garment sector and tourism in the 2000s, have persisted, with the COVID-19 pandemic deepening the island’s need on tourism money. The CNMI has the highest unemployment rate of any US territory or state in 2020, at 28.6%.

High crime rates have a negative effect on people’s quality of life, public safety, and social cohesiveness. They also discourage potential tourists and investors and impede economic growth. The Department of Public Safety’s funding and staff have been increased, along with its partnerships with federal law enforcement and the implementation of crime prevention initiatives, as part of the CNMI government’s efforts to address the problem; but, the violence has not yet stopped and Saipan’s peace has not yet been restored.

Gazing Forward

Saipan’s efforts to improve security and lower its homicide rate will not be easy. In order to give local law enforcement and the judicial system greater resources and support, cooperation between the CNMI and the federal government of the United States is imperative. A culture of respect, tolerance, and non-violence must also be aggressively promoted by the CNMI community and civil society. Saipan has the capacity to develop into a wealthy and tranquil island, but addressing its crime issue is an essential first step.

Year Homicides Murder Rate (per 100,000 people)
2022 16 30.8

Read More: Fresno Named California’s Most Corrupt City, Again


In summary, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan, confronts a serious problem with a murder rate that is projected to increase to 30.8 per 100,000 people in 2022—much higher than the national average. Motivated by things like illicit weapons, gang conflict, and financial problems, this growing tendency needs immediate intervention. Saipan’s crime problem, which has its roots in economic hardships, corruption, and high unemployment, has a negative influence on public safety, quality of life, and economic progress. It also discourages potential tourists and investors.

The violence continues in spite of the CNMI government’s enhanced efforts, which include increased financing for law enforcement. In order to address this, it is critical to work with the federal government of the United States, provide necessary resources, and promote a culture of nonviolence within the community. In order for Saipan to reach its full potential as a tranquil and affluent travel destination, the island must address its criminal problem.

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