Although it is one of the most beloved and well-recognized planets in the history of cinematic science-fiction, there are many facts about Tatooine that even diehard fans are unaware of. The desert planet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker’s childhood was seen in several of the Star Wars films and served as an analogy for many forgotten – or otherwise ignored – regions of Earth. There is just something about that dry, empty, sandy place that hypnotizes audiences and brings them to a common ground.
Though Luke and Anakin eventually left Tatooine, the planet always stayed within the cosmos of popular culture, possibly serving as inspiration to several dreadful places found in the origin stories for future heroes to come. District 12 in Hunger Games, the Dursley household in Harry Potter, the Abnegation faction in Divergent – it is hard to imagine that Star Wars’ Tatooine didn’t at least indirectly inspire the homes that heroes would rather leave.
But where did the name Tatooine come from, anyway? What inspired the planet’s physical and interplanetary composition? Just how big is it, and how many people live there? Those and other questions inspired us to dig into the sand that Anakin hates and reveal 15 Things You Never Knew About Tatooine.
15. Tataouine, Tunisia
The name, look, and feel for the Star Wars planet Tatooine was inspired by a very real place in the south of Tunisia, a province called Tataouine.
Tataouine’s connection with outer space can be traced back all the way to 1931, when the province was hit by a green meteorite. Until 1951, Tataouine housed a French penal military unit, which is like a Game of Thrones’ Wall – a military base where convicted people would be sent to serve as punishment in order to avoid prison or death.
More recently, in 2015, Tataouine was allegedly used as a military base for ISIS. Due to its proximity to the border between Tunisia and Libya, it is believed that some members of ISIS used Tataouine as a way-station.
Fun side note: Tataouine has also been mentioned in The X-Files.
14. Mos Eisley is not the capital
Even though Mos Eisley is by far the most famous and popular city on Tatooine, it is not actually the capital of the planet– just like New York isn’t the capital of the United States, and Rio de Janeiro isn’t the capital of Brazil.
According to Star Wars: Complete Locations, a city called Bestine is the true capital of Tatooine. Bestine is the town where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker spend a night on their way to Mos Eisley, shortly before the Battle of Yavin. The city was also featured several times in the 2003 MMORPG game Star Wars Galaxies.
13. Tatooine isn’t in all the movies
Tatooine appears in five episodes of Star Wars: I, II, III, IV, and VI. In Episode V: Empire Strikes Back and the more recent Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Tatooine is only mentioned by name, but the films never physically visit the planet.
This makes sense, considering that most of Episode V is spent in Dagobah as Luke Skywalker meets and trains with master Yoda. Episode VII introduced Jakku, a very similar planet to Tatooine in its appearance, but it’s located in the Inner Rim and serves as a ship graveyard for the galaxy.
There is still no official word about whether Tatooine will appear in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, but rumors have been swirling that the planet might be seen in the next installment of the franchise.
12. Tatooine is a circumbinary planet
Tatooine was introduced in 1977’s Star Wars, now better known as Episode IV: A New Hope. Since its first appearance, the planet wowed fans with its sky of two suns, called Tatoo I and Tatoo II. But it would take humanity much longer to actually find a circumbinary (meaning that it orbits two stars) planet in the real vast universe.
Even though previous research had already confirmed that it was possible for a planet to orbit around two stars, it was only in 2011, 34 years after A New Hope, that NASA’s Kepler mission discovered the planet Kepler-16b, the first confirmed circumbinary planet to ever be found.
11. Inspiration for the Outer Rim
Isaac Asimov’s 1951 book Foundation (being developed as a series for HBO) inspired an entire generation of science-fiction authors and filmmakers. Most notable, however, is the similarity between the location of Tatooine and Terminus, the planet where the Encyclopedia Galactica Foundation takes place.
In the Foundation universe, Terminus is a very remote and mostly lifeless planet where the Committee of Public Safety of the Empire sends mathematician Hari Seldon to begin his work in the Encyclopedia Galactica. It is described as being 10,000 parsecs away from Trantor, the planet where the First Galactic Empire is set up.
Tatooine, too, is shown as being a very remote and underpopulated planet. It is located in what is called the Outer Rim of the galaxy, which in practical terms means that it is extremely far from where the Empire rules more strongly.
10. Tatooine is self-managed
Which brings up the next point about Tatooine: it is so far from the Empire that it became self-managed.
As shown in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, slavery, gambling, and other sketchy shenanigans are allowed on Tatooine. Anything can happen in the desert planet without any acknowledgement from the Empire, which has just given up on trying to understand, help, or manage Tatooine. This also justifies why Luke Skywalker being sent there as a baby to hide, since the planet was far enough for Darth Vader to not be able to sense his child.
Even though Star Wars is a universe where spaceships exist, Anakin and Luke are shown as hopeless kids exactly because there is no hope to be found on Tatooine. It is a lawless land that exists on its own, where ambitions are limited to survival.
9. Tatooine has three moons
While Tatooine’s two suns – Tatoo I and Tatoo II – get all the attention, very little has been mentioned regarding the planet’s moons.
According to the book Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know, Tatooine has three moons: Ghomrassen, Guermessa, and Chenini. The moons were named after three very real towns/villages in the province of Tataouine in Tunisia, which is definitely a cooler reference than Tatoo I and Tatoo II.
As a matter of comparison: Mars has 2 moons, Uranus has 27, Neptune has 13, and Jupiter and Saturn have more than 50 each. So the fact that Tatooine has various moons is definitely not as uncommon as its status as a circumbinary planet, which is probably why Ghomrassen, Guermessa, and Chenini are less talked about.
8. Filming Tatooine
The filming of scenes set on the desert planet of Tatooine took place in five different cities across the country of Tunisia.
Ben/Obi-Wan’s hermitage from Episode IV was filmed in the city of Djerba. Anakin Skywalker’s home, as well as the slave quarters seen in Episode I, were filmed in Medenine. In Tozeur, one can find the exterior of the Lars family home, the Juntland Waste where we first meet the Tusken Raiders, and it is also where the set for the fictional town of Mos Espa was once built. The interior scenes of the Lars homestead were filmed in a different city, called Matmata.
7. Tatooine Stats
Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know mentions that Tatooine has a diameter of 10,465 kilometers (smaller than Earth’s 12,742 kilometers) and that its orbital period is 304 days, which means that the year on Tatooine ends 61 days faster than on Earth.
According to the book Star Wars: Journey Through Space, Tatooine has a population of 200,000 people, which is just about the same amount of people who live in Montgomery, Alabama. That is a very, very, very tiny population for a planet that is close to the size of Earth, and it makes us wonder how much of Tatooine hasn’t yet been explored in any of the films.
6. The Mos Eisley Cantina has a name
The famous Mos Eisley Cantina, otherwise known as “the Star Wars bar,” otherwise known as “the bar where Han Solo shot first” is not otherwise known by its official name: Chalmun’s Cantina.
Chalmun was described in three Star Wars literary works: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, Star Wars: Complete Locations, and Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. He was a male beige and gray wookiee who owned the Cantina during the Galactic Civil War, which means that if the Rogue One movie had gone there, we would’ve probably seen Chalmun hard at work.
It is written that Chalmun bought the Cantina from the Vriichon brothers, two Ranats who used to conduct illegal transactions in the building. It seems like that place was never entirely on the right side of the law.
5. Tatooine’s native population
Tatooine is a planet ran by the Hutts, who are slave-owning gangsters and crime lords with a lot of debts to collect and credits to spare. But the Hutts were not always part of Tatooine.
It is written that Jawas and Tusken Raiders (otherwise known as sand people) constituted the native population of Tatooine. Hutts, as well as humans, migrated later to the planet, looking for the opportunity to conduct sleazy business transactions out of the sight of the Empire.
A lot of the old ships and equipment seen on Tatooine, used by Jawas and Tusken Raiders, came from an early migration movement that searched for mining deposits on the planet’s silicate surface. Eventually those entrepreneurs left, leaving a lot of junk hardware behind and ample room for mafias such as the Hutts’ to grow.
4. Utapau was the planet’s original name
George Lucas definitely took a liking to the name Utapau.
Tatooine, before it was named Tatooine, was called Utapau. Then, Utapau was the placeholder name for the planet of Naboo. Utapau would only finally become an actual place in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It is the planet full of giant sinkholes where Obi-Wan Kenobi fights General Grievous and eventually kills him.
The so-called Battle of Utapau is an important chapter in the history of the Clone Wars since it was where General Grievous was defeated. The planet housed several Separatist leaders before they were eventually moved to Mustafar. Like Tatooine, Utapau was located in the Outer Rim, but that didn’t matter as much as it would later, in the age of the Galactic Empire.
3. Mos Espa
After Mos Eisley, the second most important and well-known place on Tatooine within the Star Wars franchise is Mos Espa, because it is where Anakin Skywalker grew up.
As seen on Episode I: The Phantom Menace, podracing plays a huge role in Mos Espa. Podracers are the local celebrities, like Sebulba, who is eventually defeated by Anakin in the film’s race. Some key places in Mos Espa are the street café Akim’s Munch, the Slave Quarters Row where Anakin lived, and the Mos Espa Grand Arena where podraces took place.
Podracing makes it real profit on small bets from the general public and big bets from crime lords such as the Hutts, which explains why the enormous Mos Espa Grand Arena is actually a pretty nice-looking place for a poor town on a poor planet. It is written that the arena could hold more than 100,000 spectators, which is odd once you realize that the entire population of Tatooine is 200,000 people.
2. Tatooine’s water
One of the unique challenges to Tatooine, and the main reason why it is so underpopulated and hard to manage, is the weather. All Star Wars creatures – human or otherwise – seem to need water, but the planet is pretty much just a giant desert.
Luke Skywalker grew up in a moisture farm, which are common in Tatooine due to its need for water to be farmed. Moisture vaporators are the devices used to capture water from the planet’s air. They are 3.5 meters high and usually cost 500 credits. On average, they are able to collect 1.5 liters of water per day, and some of the higher-end models are manufactured by a company called Pretormin Environmental.
1. The Arkanis sector
The Star Wars universe, like Earth and the real universe, is divided into different sections and systems that better explain its geopolitical composition. Think of it this way: Mexico is located in the continent of America. If you get more specific, it’s located in North America. If you want to explain it differently, you can say that it is located in Latin America.
Tatooine is part of the so-called Arkanis sector of the universe, located in the greater Outer Rim, which encompasses a few planetary systems such as the Arkanis system, the Geonosis system, the Tatoo system, and an unnamed Sentinel Base system.
Neighboring planets to Tatooine are Geonosis, which has fifteen moons, and Arkanis. As written in the book Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, a Sentinel Base was built by the Galactic Empire on a close-by moon.
Which of these facts about Tatooine surprise you the most? Do you know of any other cool facts about the desert planet from Star Wars? Let us know in the comments below!
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