Tinian (/ˌtiːniˈɑːn/) is one of the three principal islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (14°59’51”N, 145°37’39”E). It is perhaps best known for being the base from which the American atomic bomb attacks on Japan during World War II were launched.
The Island has a variety of flora and fauna, as well as limestone cliffs and caves. There is also a variety of marine life and coral reefs surrounding the island. Its clear, warm waters are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as sport fishing.
Other points of interest on the Island include the North Field, where the remains of the US bomber base and Atom Bomb Pits as well as the remains of Japanese fortifications can be found. The island also has the only intact Shinto shrine on the Mariana Islands.
There are also the ruins of the House of Chief Taga, one of the Chiefs of the Mariana Islands during the Pre-Spanish period. 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 in length. Of the twelve large Latte structures, only one is still standing.
Much of the local economy is dependent on tourism. The largest employers on the island are the Government and the Casino.
As of March 2006, the island has plans to put in four new casinos. The 2000 census showed a population of 3,540 for the island.
Tinian was captured by the United States in July 1944 in the battle of Tinian. The island was transformed into the busiest airbase of the war, with two B-29 airfields (West and North) having six 8,500 foot (2700 m) runways. The Japanese had constructed three small fighter strips on Tinian but none were suitable for bomber operations. When the United States turned the entire island, excepting its three highland areas, into a 40,000-personnel installation, construction engineers laid out the base in a pattern of city streets resembling Manhattan and named the streets accordingly. The area south of West Field which was developed from the main Japanese installation at Sunharon was nicknamed "The Village" because its location corresponded to that of Greenwich Village, and a large square area between West and North Fields, used primarily only for the location of the base hospitals and otherwise left undeveloped was called Central Park.
It was from Tinian that the bombers carrying the atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man were launched against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bomb had been delivered to the island by the USS Indianapolis on 26 July 1945.
The airfields are now overgrown and abandoned. There is a memorial on the old airfield at the loading pits, which had been filled in for safety. Both pits were recently reopened in conjunction with the 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battles of Saipan and Tinian. Originally the pits had been constructed to load the large bombs, since each bomb was too large to be loaded in the conventional manner. The planes were maneuvered over a pit with their bomb bay doors open to facilitate loading.