SAIPAN, Northern Marianas — The 18,200 residents of this Western Pacific island group became citizens of the United States today as their home became a U.S. commonwealth.
The United States has administered the Northern Mariana islands and several other Western Pacific island groups since the end of World War II under a U.N. mandate.
The arrangement, known as the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, is being dismantled as island governments assume greater control of internal affairs while remaining associated with the United States, which provides millions of dollars in economic aid yearly to the region.
During a brief ceremony today, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Lt. Gov. Pedro A. Tenorio was presented with a U.S. passport. He acted in place of Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio, who was away. Adm. James A. Lyons, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, attended the ceremony. The citizenship was to become official with President Reagan's signature later.
Northern Mariana voters chose in 1975 to become a U.S. commonwealth, like Puerto Rico, when the U.N.-mandated trusteeship ended.