The traditional religions of Melanesia,
Micronesia and Polynesia are different, but there
are common features. Common are the "great men" who,
through personal skill, happiness and prestige, are
able to influence nature and society. Happiness,
mana, creates an immobility or sacrality, tapu (see
taboo), which can be increased or decreased
depending on the man's ability in social, political
or religious situations.
The world is affected by the dead, the mythical
cultural heroes and the gods. The dead who live in
their own world can be dangerous, but they can also
help humans, especially their own relatives. The
many messianic movements that spread in connection
with the arrival of the Europeans were partly due to
the belief that the whites had returned dead.
The deceased is buried twice, and in some places
the skull is kept separately for cult use. On most
islands, annual ceremonies are held for the dead,
but the dead are also regularly consulted in
connection with crisis situations, during the
performance of ecstatic dances.
According to the myths, each generation was given
rituals in ancient times, which were to be used to
secure the course of the Universe, but which could
also be used as black magic to destroy enemies. The
genus performs annual ceremonies; Among other
things, the first crops are celebrated.
The cultural heroes bestowed upon man the goods
and evils of culture. The gods created the cosmos
and are constantly interfering in the world. They
manifest themselves both in nature and in their cult
statues. In the more hierarchical societies, in
Polynesia for example, each genus has a god who
incarnates in the genus, and the young men are
initiated into the cult of the god in connection
with circumcision, skin incision or tattooing.
Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,
(named after Mariana of Austria, wife of Philip IV of Spain),
archipelago of Micronesia in the Western Pacific; 477 km2, 69,250
residents (2000). The main city is Chalan Kanoa on Saipan. The islands have
extensive autonomy in close cooperation with the United States, and the
residents have American citizenship. The volcanic island chain is located
where the Pacific plate shoots under the Philippine plate; at the meeting, the
Marian Grave has been formed, the world's deepest deep - sea grave (11,034 m).
The population lives predominantly on the main island of Saipan and is
ethnically composed of chamorro of mixed Micronesian-European-Filipino
origin as the main local group. A small group of early immigrant Carolingians
seek to maintain a certain Micronesian cultural character, while society in
general is strongly Americanized.
Tourism is the dominant profession; about 1/2 million. especially
Japanese charter tourists come annually to Saipan's large hotel complexes with
golf courses. Saipan also has a significant textile industry, which can sell Made
in the USA products at low prices with imported raw materials and cheap
East Asian labor. Both the low wages, a poor working environment and the
commercial exploitation of the islands 'status give rise to protests from the
United States' own textile industry.
The first settlements in the Northern Mariana Islands took place no later
than 1500 BC. The original Chamorro population had a complex clan structure that
connected most of the islands in the Mariana chain. Magellan, who called at
Saipan, Rota, and Guam in 1521, was the first European visitor, and he called
the Islands the Twilight Islands (Islas de los Ladrones). In 1565,
Spain formally seized power on the islands and later named them Islas
Marianas. The Chamorroes frequently revolted, but were beaten down with a
heavy hand, and the heavily decimated population was eventually moved to
Guam. In the 1800's. however, some descendants were allowed to return. After the
Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States took control of Guam, while the
rest of the Marianas in 1899 were sold to Germany. After World War I, Japan
succeeded Germany as colonial master, and during World War II, the islands were
the scene of bloody battles to serve as a base for the United States' decisive
attack on Japan in 1945 (see Tinian). From 1947, the Northern Mariana Islands
were part of the US guardianship area; in 1986, the islands became an autonomous
Commonwealth in union with the United States.
American Samoa is the eastern part of the Pacific Samoa archipelago with home
rule under American sovereignty; 197 km2, 67,000 residents
(2001). The US part includes the main island of Tutuila with the capital Pago
Pago, the nearby Aunu'u, the Manu'a archipelago as well as the remote Rose Atoll
and Swains Island.
The people are Polynesians and they are American citizens; many have
emigrated to the United States. Following the American model, a kind of welfare
state has developed, and many jobs are performed by imported labor, especially
from the neighboring islands, the independent state of Samoa, while the natives
are predominantly employed in the state service sector funded by transfers from
the United States. In addition, the economy is characterized by two canned fish
factories (tuna accounts for almost 100 percent of exports) and tourism. On the
other hand, agriculture and local fishing have declined, outcompeted by imported
canned food, e.g. in connection with American relief after the devastation of
the recurring hurricanes.
The islands have been Americanized. The population of independent Samoa, 100
km to the west, has the same cultural background as American Samoa. A comparison
shows how deeply and quickly the transfers from the United States have changed
society. The standard of living has increased, but so have the problems of
alcohol, welfare diseases and nature destruction.
Through the 1990's, the population grew by 22 percent; almost all the growth
has taken place in the capital Pago Pago.
The colony was formed in the year 1900, when Samoa was divided between the
United States and Germany. The United States' interest in eastern Samoa was
mainly due to the deep-water port of Pago Pago, where in 1872 the United States
had entered into an agreement to establish a naval base. After the annexation,
which was accepted by the residents 1900-1904 and ratified by the US Congress in
1929, the colony was ruled by the US Navy. In 1951, the area passed to civilian
rule under the Interior Ministry, locally represented by a governor. The
Constitution of 1960 established a Legislative Assembly with a Senate,
consisting of 18 matai (local leaders), elected according to
traditional rules, and the House of Representatives with 20 elected
members. Since 1978, the governor has also been elected by the people. American
Samoa is represented in the United States Congress by one delegate with limited