The Reverse side design represents the wealth of the islands in its natural resources of land, air and sea. Near the shore stands a large limestone latte, the supporting column of ancient indigenous Chamorro structures. A canoe of the indigenous Carolinians represents the people’s seafaring skills across vast distances. Two white fairy tern birds fly in characteristic synchrony overhead. A Carolinian mwar head lei composed of plumeria, langilang Ylang Ylang, angagha peacock flower and teibwo Pacific Basil borders the bottom of the design near the inscription, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS. The mwar is symbolic of the virtues of honor and respect.
A possession of Spain until 1898, the islands were sold to Germany in 1899. The islands were seized in 1914 by Japan, whose control of the islands was officially recognized in 1921 by the League of Nations. American forces occupied the Marianas during World War II, and in 1947 the group was included in the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Residents approved separate status for the Northern Marianas as a U.S. Commonwealth in 1975, and the covenant to establish the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was signed by President Gerald Ford the next year.