Last updated

Map Saipan Tinian islands closer.jpg
Tinian on an area map, southwest of Saipan, showing waters around islands, and deeper Pacific section.
Mariana Islands - Tinian.PNG
Pacific Ocean laea location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 15°00′N145°38′E / 15.000°N 145.633°E / 15.000; 145.633 Coordinates: 15°00′N145°38′E / 15.000°N 145.633°E / 15.000; 145.633
Archipelago Marianas
Area101.01 km2 (39.00 sq mi)
Highest elevation171 m (561 ft)
Highest pointMount Lasso
United States
Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands
Largest settlement San Jose
Population3,136 (2010)

Tinian ( /ˈtɪniən/ or /ˌtniˈɑːn/ ) is one of the three principal islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Together with uninhabited neighbouring Aguigan, it forms Tinian Municipality, one of the four constituent municipalities of the Northern Marianas. Tinian's largest village is San Jose.



Tinian beach Unai Dankulo, Tinian, -2 Jan. 2011 a.jpg
Tinian beach

Tinian is about 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) southwest of Saipan, from which it is separated by the Saipan Channel. It has a land area of 39 square miles (100 km2), with its highest elevation at Mount Lasso at 171 meters (561 ft).

The island has a variety of flora and fauna, and limestone cliffs and caves. The Tinian monarch is the island's only endemic bird species and it is threatened by habitat loss. There is a variety of marine life and coral reefs surrounding the island. Its clear, warm waters are ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving and sport fishing.


The population of Tinian was 3,136 (as of 2010), which corresponds to less than 5% of all residents of the Northern Mariana Islands and a population density of 31 people per km2. Most of the inhabitants are Chamorros (about 75%) and members of various other groups of islands in the Caroline Islands. There are also minorities of Filipino, Bangladeshi, East Asian and European-descended people.



Traces of human settlements on Tinian have been found by archaeologists ranging over 4,000 years in datings, including ancient latte stones, and other artifacts pointing to cultural affinities with Melanesia and with similar stone monuments in Micronesia and Palau. Around 3000 years ago, Tinian was ruled by the Chamorro Chief Taga, who built the biggest stone home with latte stones. A beach on Tinian (Taga Beach) and the local charter airline (Taga Air) were named after him.

Spanish colonial period

Tinian, together with Saipan, was possibly first sighted by Europeans of the Spanish expedition of Ferdinand Magellan, when it made landfall in the southern Marianas on 6 March 1521. [1] It was likely sighted next by Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa in 1522 on board the Spanish ship Trinidad, in an attempt to reach Panama after the death of Magellan. [2] This would have happened after the sighting of the Maug Islands in between the end of August and end of September. Gonzalo de Vigo deserted in the Maugs from the Trinidad and in the next four years, living with the Chamorros, visited thirteen main islands in the Marianas and possibly Tinian among them. The first clear evidence of European arrival was by the Manila galleon Santa Margarita commanded by Juan Martínez de Guillistegui, that wrecked in the southeast of Saipan in February 1600 and whose survivors stayed for two years till 250 were rescued by the Santo Tomas and the Jesus María. [3] The Spanish formally occupied Tinian in 1669, with the missionary expedition of Diego Luis de San Vitores who named it Buenavista Mariana (Goodsight Mariana). From 1670, it became a port of call for Spanish and occasional English, Dutch and French ships as a supply station for food and water. The native population, estimated at 40,000 at the time of the Spanish arrival, shrank to less than 1400 due to European-introduced diseases and conflicts over land. The survivors were forcibly relocated to Guam in 1720 for better control and assimilation. Under Spanish rule, the island was developed into ranches for raising cattle and pigs, which were used to provision Spanish galleons en route to Mexico.

German colonial period

After the Spanish–American War of 1898, Tinian was occupied by the US. It was later sold by Spain to the German Empire in 1899. The island was administered by Germany as part of German New Guinea. During the German period, there was no attempt to develop or settle the island, which remained under the control of its Spanish and mestizo landowners.

Japanese colonial period

Tinian Shinto shrine. Tinian Shinto Shrine 1.JPG
Tinian Shinto shrine.

In 1914, during World War I, the island was captured by Japan, which was awarded formal control in 1918 by the League of Nations as part of the South Seas Mandate. The island was settled by ethnic Japanese, Koreans and Okinawans, who developed large-scale sugar plantations. [4] Under Japanese rule, extensive infrastructure development occurred, including the construction of port facilities, waterworks, power stations, paved roads and schools, along with entertainment facilities and Shinto shrines. Initial efforts to settle the island met with difficulties, including an infestation of scale insects, followed by a severe drought in 1919. Efforts were resumed under the aegis of the Nanyo Kohatsu Kabushiki Kaisha in 1926, with new settlers from Okinawa as well as Fukushima and Yamagata Prefectures, and the introduction of coffee and cotton as cash crops in addition to sugar, and the construction of a Katsuobushi processing plant. By June 1944, some 15,700 Japanese civilians resided on Tinian (including 2700 ethnic Koreans and 22 ethnic Chamorro).

World War II

U.S. Marines during the Battle of Tinian in 1944. USMC LVT-2 Water Buffalo.JPEG
U.S. Marines during the Battle of Tinian in 1944.
The atom bomb pit "No.1" on Tinian's North Field, where Little Boy was loaded aboard the Enola Gay. Atom Bomb Pit 1 Little Boy a.JPG
The atom bomb pit "No.1" on Tinian's North Field, where Little Boy was loaded aboard the Enola Gay .

Tinian was not garrisoned by the Japanese military until the latter stages of World War II, when the Japanese realized its strategic importance as a possible base for American Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers. The island was seized by the Allies during the Battle of Tinian from 24 July to 1 August 1944. Of the 8,500-man Japanese garrison, 313 survived the battle. At the time, there were an estimated 15,700 Japanese civilians (including 2700 ethnic Koreans) on the island. Many hundreds were also killed in the crossfire, took their own lives, or were executed by the Japanese military to avoid capture by the Americans. [5]

Tinian is located approximately 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometres) from mainland Japan, and was suitable as a staging base for continuous heavy bomber attacks on the Japanese Islands. Immediately after the island's seizure by the US, construction began on the largest airbase of WWII, which covered the entire island (except its three highland areas). The base was a 40,000-personnel installation, and the Navy Seabees (110th NCB) laid out the base in a pattern of city streets resembling New York City's Manhattan Island, and named the streets accordingly. The former Japanese town of Sunharon was nicknamed "The Village" because its location corresponded to that of Greenwich Village. A large square area between West and North Fields, used primarily for the location of the base hospitals and otherwise left undeveloped, was called Central Park. [6]

Two runway complexes, West Field and North Field, having a combined total of six 8,500-foot (2,600-meter) runways, were constructed. Today the four runways at North Field are overgrown and abandoned. One of the two West Field runways remains in use as part of Tinian International Airport. [7]

West Field

West Field, Tinian, 8 July 1945 Westfield-tinian-8jul1945.jpg
West Field, Tinian, 8 July 1945

Airfield construction was originally by the Japanese, built with two parallel runways. It was repaired by the Americans, and then called West Field. [8] From here seven squadrons of the 58th Bombardment Wing flew combat and reconnaissance missions throughout Southeast Asia and finally into the Japanese home islands, as part of the bombing of Japan. [8] [9]

After WWII, West Field was Tinian's airport called Gurguan Point Airfield; [8] and today is Tinian International Airport.

North Field

The Japanese had constructed three small fighter strips [4] on Tinian, but none were suitable for bomber operations. Under the Americans, nearly the entire northern end of the island was occupied by the runways, almost 11 miles (18 km) of taxiways and the airfield area, designed to accommodate the entire 313th Bombardment Wing complement of Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers. [4]

North Field was the departure point of the 509th Composite Group specialized Silverplate nuclear weapons delivery B-29 bombers Enola Gay and Bockscar , which respectively carried the two atomic bombs named Little Boy and Fat Man, that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [7]

Remains of the US bomber base and Atom Bomb Pits, [7] and the remains of Japanese fortifications, are located at North Field. There is a memorial on the old airfield at the loading pits, which are roofed-over with glazed panels in metal framing for safer viewing. Both pits were reopened in conjunction with the 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battles of Saipan and Tinian. The pits were originally constructed to load the bombs, since they were too large to be loaded in the conventional manner. The B-29s were maneuvered over a pit with their bomb bay doors open to facilitate loading. [10]

Post-war Tinian

After the end of World War II, Tinian became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, controlled by the United States. The island continued to be dominated by the United States military, and until 1962 was administered as a sub-district of Saipan. Since 1978, the island has been a municipality of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. During the 1980s, one of the runways on North Field was kept active to allow U.S. Air Force C-130s to take off and land in support of U.S. Marine Corps training exercises in the north end of the island. The two northern airstrips, Alpha and Bravo were cleared of vegetation and the limestone coral that had been disturbed by roots was excavated and replaced by Marines of the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd FSSG, 3rd Marine Division then stationed at Camp Hansen, Okinawa in late 1981. That unit had been transported by sea aboard the USS Cayuga, LST-1186. [11] [ verification needed ] The military presence began to be replaced by tourism in the 1990s, but still plays an important role in the local economy.[ citation needed ]

On October 24, 2018, Typhoon Yutu made landfall on the island of Tinian as a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon, becoming the most powerful storm on record to hit the northern Mariana Islands, and causing an extensive amount of damage. [12] [13]


Much of the local economy of Tinian is dependent on tourism. Agriculture is primarily on the subsistence level. The largest employers on the island are the government and the casino, which was legalized in 1989. As of March 2006, the island has plans to put in four new casinos. [ citation needed ] The 2010 census showed a population of 3,136 [14] for the island. [15]

However, tourist infrastructure is relatively poorly developed on Tinian. The village of San Jose has several smaller hotels and restaurants and bars. Tinian Airport is small and serviced by Star Marianas Air, which operates daily scheduled flights. Freedom Air, who previously served the island filed for bankruptcy in October 2013 and suspended all operations in March 2014. The ferry boat service that operated twice daily between Tinian and Saipan ran at a loss estimated to be US$1 million a year, and has since ceased.[ citation needed ]


The local government is the Municipality of Tinian and Aguiguan, which also includes the uninhabited island Aguijan. [16] The municipality has a land area of 108.1 km² (41.738 sq mi). The 2000 census population was 3,540 persons, all living on the island of Tinian (Aguijan is uninhabited). The municipal seat and main village of the island of Tinian is San Jose, situated on the southwest coast. [17] Mayor Edwin P. Aldan was inaugurated in January 2019, [18] succeeding Joey San Nicolas.

Local attractions

House of Taga

Taga House, Tinian House of Taga 3.JPG
Taga House, Tinian

The House of Taga is a latte stone site, one of the largest such structures in the Marianas. The stones are quarried limestone, each approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) in length. Of the twelve large Latte structures, only one is still standing. The site is one of seven locations on Tinian on the National Register of Historic Places listings in the Northern Mariana Islands.


Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System operates public schools including Tinian Elementary School, [19] and Tinian Jr./Sr. High School.

State Library of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands operates the Tinian Public Library in San Jose Village. [20]

Related Research Articles

Northern Mariana Islands Self-governing territory in the western Pacfic

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is an insular area and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 14 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago except the southernmost island of the chain, Guam, which is a separate U.S. territory. The CNMI and Guam are the westernmost territories of the United States.

Saipan Largest island in the Northern Mariana Islands

Saipan is the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. According to 2017 estimates by the United States Census Bureau, Saipan's population was 52,263.

Mariana Islands Archipelago in western North Pacific Ocean

The Mariana Islands are a crescent-shaped archipelago comprising the summits of fifteen mostly dormant volcanic mountains in the western North Pacific Ocean, between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east. They lie south-southeast of Japan, west-southwest of Hawaii, north of New Guinea and east of the Philippines, demarcating the Philippine Sea's eastern limit. They are found in the northern part of the western Oceanic sub-region of Micronesia, and are politically divided into two jurisdictions of the United States: the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and, at the southern end of the chain, the territory of Guam. The islands were named after the influential Spanish queen Mariana of Austria following their colonization in the 17th century.

Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands flag

The flag of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was adopted in July 1985, by the Second Northern Marianas Constitution. The NMI flag was originally designed by Taga during the year 1985. Later during that year, they finalized the draft of the flag in the last CNMI constitutional convention. This was the most symbolic moment of the annexation of the CNMI.

Battle of Tinian battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II on the island of Tinian in the Mariana Islands

The Battle of Tinian was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Tinian in the Mariana Islands from 24 July until 1 August 1944. The 8,000-man Japanese garrison was eliminated, and the island joined Saipan and Guam as a base for the Twentieth Air Force.

Rota (island) island in the Northern Mariana Islands

Rota, also known as the "Friendly Island", is the southernmost island of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the second southernmost of the Marianas Archipelago. In early Spanish records it is called "Zarpana"; the name Rota may have come from the Spaniards possibly naming the island after the municipality of Rota, Spain. It lies approximately 40 nautical miles (74 km) north-northeast of the United States territory of Guam. Sinapalo village is the largest and most populated, followed by Songsong village (Songsong).

Pagan (island) volcanic island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean

Pagan is a volcanic island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, belonging to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The island was formerly inhabited, but the inhabitants were evacuated due to volcanic eruptions in 1981.

Latte stone

A latte stone, or simply latte, is a pillar capped by a hemispherical stone capital (tasa) with the flat side facing up. Used as building supports by the ancient Chamorro people, they are found throughout most of the Mariana Islands. In modern times, the latte stone is seen as a sign of Chamorro identity and is used in many different contexts.

Saipan International Airport airport on Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

Saipan International Airport, also known as Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, is a public airport located on Saipan Island in the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The airport is owned by Commonwealth Ports Authority. Its airfield was previously known as Aslito and Isley Field.

Alamagan island in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean

Alamagan is an island in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean, 30 nautical miles (56 km) north of Guguan, 250 nautical miles (463 km) north of Saipan, and 60 nautical miles (111 km) south of Pagan. It is currently uninhabited.

Aguigan island in the United States of America

Aguigan is a small bean-shaped coralline island in the Northern Mariana Islands chain in the Pacific Ocean. It is situated 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) southwest of Tinian, from which it is separated by the Tinian Channel. Aguigan and neighboring Tinian Island together form Tinian Municipality, one of the four main political divisions that comprise the Northern Marianas.

Northern Mariana Islands Senate

The Northern Mariana Islands Senate is the upper house of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. The Senate consists of nine senators representing three senatorial districts, each a multi-member constituency with three senators.

Index of Northern Mariana Islands-related articles Wikipedia index

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Carolinian people ethnic group

Carolinians are an Austronesian ethnic group who originated in Oceania, in the eastern Caroline Islands, with a total population of around 8,500 people. They are also known as Remathau in the Yap's outer islands. The Carolinian word means "People of the Deep Sea." It is thought that their ancestors may have originally immigrated from Asia and Indonesia to Micronesia around 2,000 years ago. Their primary language is Carolinian, called Refaluwasch by native speakers, which has a total of about 5,700 speakers. The Carolinians have a matriarchal society in which respect is a very important factor in their daily lives, especially toward the matriarchs. Most Carolinians are of the Roman Catholic faith.

North Field (Tinian) former World War II airfield on Tinian in the Mariana Islands

North Field is a former World War II airfield on Tinian in the Mariana Islands. Abandoned after the war, today North Field is a tourist attraction. Along with several adjacent beaches on which Allied forces landed during the Battle of Tinian, the airfield is the major component of the National Historic Landmark District Tinian Landing Beaches, Ushi Point Field, Tinian Island.

Rota Latte Stone Quarry United States historic place

Rota Latte Stone Quarry, also known as the As Nieves quarry, is located near the Chamorro village of Sinapalo, on the island of Rota in the Marianas Archipelago. The prehistoric megaliths found there are believed to have been used as foundation pillars for houses, with some of them weighing up to 35 tons. Their exact age, origin, methods of quarrying and means of transportation have not been determined.

House of Taga United States historic place

The House of Taga is an archeological site located near San Jose Village, on the island of Tinian, United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in the Marianas Archipelago. The site is the location of a series of prehistoric latte stone pillars which were quarried about 4,000 feet (1,200 m) south of the site, only one of which is left standing erect due to past earthquakes. The name is derived from a mythological chief named Taga, who is said to have erected the pillars as a foundation for his own house.

2018 Northern Mariana Islands gubernatorial election

The 2018 Northern Mariana gubernatorial election took place on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, to elect the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands to a four-year term in office. The election, which corresponds to the larger Northern Mariana general election and the United States midterms, was originally scheduled to be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. However, Governor Ralph Torres postponed all elections in the territory until November 13 due to the impact of Typhoon Yutu, which struck the Northern Mariana Islands as a Category 5 storm in October 2018, shortly before the planned elections.

Typhoon Yutu Pacific typhoon in 2018

Typhoon Yutu, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Rosita, was an extremely powerful tropical cyclone that caused catastrophic destruction on the islands of Tinian and Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, and later impacted the Philippines. It is the strongest typhoon ever recorded to impact the Mariana Islands, and is tied as the second-strongest tropical cyclone to strike the United States and its unincorporated territories by both wind speed and barometric pressure. Yutu was also the most powerful tropical cyclone worldwide in 2018. The fortieth tropical depression, twenty-sixth named storm, twelfth typhoon, and the seventh super typhoon of the 2018 Pacific typhoon season, Yutu originated from a low-pressure area that formed in the western Pacific Ocean on October 15. The disturbance organized into a tropical depression on the same day, as ocean sea-surface heat content increased. Shortly after becoming a tropical depression, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) assigned the system the identifier 31W. The system continued to strengthen, becoming a tropical storm several hours later, with the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) naming the system Yutu. Increasingly favorable conditions allowed Yutu to explosively intensify, as the system maintained deep convection and subsequently became a severe tropical storm and then a typhoon.

A small independent cinema of Northern Mariana Islands, producing mostly documentary films, developed in the 21st century thanks to the efforts of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and of the Northern Marianas College. Films had already been shot in the islands in the 20th century by foreign producers.


  1. Rogers, Robert F.; Ballendorf, Dirk Anthony (1989). "Magellan's Landfall in the Mariana Islands". The Journal of Pacific History. Taylor & Francis Ltd. 24 (2): 198. doi:10.1080/00223348908572614.
  2. Brand, Donald D. The Pacific Basin: A History of its Geographical Explorations The American Geographical Society, New York, 1967, p.118.
  3. Sharp, Andrew (1960). The discovery of the Pacific Islands . Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  4. 1 2 3 "Pacifics Wrecks: Tinian History". Archived from the original on 8 May 2006. Retrieved 10 April 2006.
  5. Prefer, Nathan N. The Battle for Tinian: Vital Stepping Stone in America's War Against Japan. Havertown, PA: Casemate Publishers, 2012. ISBN   978-1-61200-107-4. pp. 155156.
  6. Carlson, Jen (29 July 2015). "These NYC Streets Are Located In The Middle Of The Pacific Ocean". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 "Pacific Wrecks: Ushi North Field". Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
  8. 1 2 3 "West Field". Pacific Wrecks. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
  9. "A Brief History of the 58th Bomb Wing". 58th Bomb Wing Memorial. Archived from the original on 21 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  10. B-29 "Enola Gay" 44-86292 Over Atomic Bomb Loading Pit Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine , PacificWrecks.com Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  11. Personal account Donald Harrison, USMC 1976-1983, SSgt 9thEngrSptBn
  12. Colin Dwyer (24 October 2018). "Super Typhoon Yutu, 'Strongest Storm Of 2018,' Slams U.S. Pacific Territory". NPR. Archived from the original on 1 November 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  13. "Category 5 Super Typhoon Yutu Now Moving Away From U.S. Territories of Saipan, Tinian After Devastating Strike". The Weather Company. 24 October 2018. Archived from the original on 28 October 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  14. US Census 2010 Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  15. "Tinian Municipality, Tinian Island (Block Groups 1 thru 4) and Aguijan Island (Block Group 5), United States Census Bureau" . Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  16. "Municipality of Tinian and Aguiguan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands". tinianmayor.net. Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  17. "Municipalities of the Northern Mariana Islands, United States Census Bureau" . Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  18. Post, Junhan B. Todiño | For The Guam Daily. "Tinian mayor looks to partnerships with CNMI, US governments". The Guam Daily Post. Archived from the original on 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  19. Home Archived 15 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine . Tinian Elementary School. Retrieved on January 14, 2017.
  20. "TINIAN PUBLIC LIBRARY Archived 15 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine ." State Library of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Retrieved on January 15, 2017.