Mariana Islands

Alliance Axis - Minor Member Nation or Possession
Possessing Power Japan
Population in 1939 129,104
Civilian Deaths in WW2 22,000


ww2dbaseThis article deals with places in the Mariana Islands under Japanese control at the start of the Pacific War. For information on the island of Guam, an American possession, please see Guam.

ww2dbaseIn 1899, most of the Spanish Mariana Islands (less Guam, which was transferred to the United States) was sold to Germany. In 1919, after the defeat of Germany in WW1, Japan was given mandate over the German holdings in the Mariana Islands as part of the South Pacific Mandate. During the Japanese period, the main island of Saipan was developed into a major sugar producing center. The Japanese worked extensively with the local Chamorro population in the development of the islands, and would later employ many in the occupation administration of Guam during the Pacific War, which would have lasting consequences in the relationship of Chamorros of different islands for decades to come. In 1939, the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean civilian population in the Japanese-occupied Mariana Islands reached 77,257, outnumbering the Chamorros (51,847).

ww2dbaseIn Jun 1944, the Americans invaded the Japanese Mariana Islands. 29,000 Japanese troops were killed in the defense of the main island Saipan. The island of Tinian, situated south of Saipan, was taken in Jul 1944, which saw the expansion of a bomber airfield from which the B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay took off with the atomic bomb for Hiroshima, Japan. The island of Rota was cut off by the Americans, and the Japanese garrison there surrendered only after the end of the Pacific War. As the Americans captured populated places on Saipan and Tinian, large groups of Chamorros were imprisoned in concentration camps as the Americans feared sabotage and uprising.

ww2dbaseDuring the American conquest of the Japanese Mariana Islands, 22,000 civilians were killed on Saipan. A large portion of that number were the result of mass suicides due to the population fearing that the conquering Americans would be barbarous.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, the United States received control of the Northern Mariana Islands from the United Nations. In the 1970s, a vote by the Chamorros of the region revealed that they did not wish to be granted independence. In 1977, a constitution was adopted, and in the following year the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands assumed control of the islands. The Northern Mariana Islands remains under Untied States protection today, and have representation in the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Apr 2012

Events Taken Place in Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot13 Jun 1944 - 10 Aug 1944


William Laurence on Tinian, Mariana Islands, Aug 1945.American wounded at the beach of Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, 1-3 Feb 1944Early production Willys Jeep heavily field modified into a litter Jeep carrying wounded soldiers and medics on Saipan, Mariana Islands, Jun 1944.Landing craft moving toward Saipan landing beaches, Mariana Islands, 15 Jun 1944
See all 93 photographs of Mariana Islands in World War II


Map of the Battle of Saipan Jun 15 through July 9, 1944

Mariana Islands in World War II Interactive Map

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code



1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites

Mariana Islands in World War II Photo Gallery
William Laurence on Tinian, Mariana Islands, Aug 1945.
See all 93 photographs of Mariana Islands in World War II

Famous WW2 Quote
"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!