The Northern Mariana Islands are a chain of 15 tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean, about 120 miles (193 km) north of Guam. At 12 miles in length and 5 miles wide (19 x 8 km), Saipan is the largest of the 15 islands, and site of the CNMI capital. Settlement of Saipan and its neighbouring islands occurred circa 2000 BC by the Chamorro people who arrived via similar routes as their cousins in Guam. Ferdinand Magellan first sighted the Mariana Islands in March 1521 and claimed “Las Islas de las Velas Latinas” for Spain. In 1668, the islands’ name changed to the present one in honour of Mariana of Austria, the widow of Spain’s king, Philip IV. Germany bought the islands from Spain in 1899, but was forced out by the Japanese during World War I. American forces entered the Marianas on June 15, 1944 and were met with fierce resistance by the Japanese. In the following months, the Americans managed to gain control and started to build bases and airfields for Pacific launching pads. The Marianas became part of the Pacific Islands Trust Territory granted to the United States by the United Nations in 1947. After 20 years of American presence, the people opted out of the U.S. Trust and voted for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, finally gaining their self-government in January 1978. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the Northern Marianas a United States Commonwealth and its residents U.S. citizens. Today, Saipan boasts a well-developed tourist industry, which is concentrated around Garapan, the capital. In addition to beaches and colourful marine life, American World War II relics, overgrown Japanese bunkers, and mangrove swamps can be seen around the island. Garapan, located on the western side of the island, is home to major hotels and the American Memorial Park, which honours American soldiers who died during the Battle of Saipan.