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The Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands was the site of nuclear weapon tests in 1946.

Bikini is also the name for a type of women's bathing suit, which is characterized by the fact that it consists of two separate parts, one covering the breasts, the other the groin and buttocks, leaving an uncovered area between them. It was officially invented by engineer Louis Reard[?] in Paris in 1946 (introduced on July 5), and named after the Pacific atolls[?] where atomic bomb tests were being conducted. Reard's suit was a refinement of the work of Jacques Heim[?] who, two months earlier, had introduced the "Atome" (named for its size) and advertised it as the world's "smallest bathing suit." Reard, however, split the "atome" even smaller.

It took fifteen years for the bikini to be accepted in America. In 1951 bikinis were banned from the Miss World Contest. In 1957, however, Brigitte Bardot's bikini in "And God Created Woman[?]" created a market for the swimwear in the US, and in 1960, Brian Hyland[?]'s pop song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" inspired a bikini-buying spree. Finally, the bikini caught on, and by 1963, the movie "Beach Party," starring Annette Funicello[?] and Frankie Avalon[?], led a wave of films that made the bikini a pop-culture symbol.

In recent years, the term monokini has come into use for topless bathing by women: where the bikini has two parts, the monokini corresponds to (and often simply is) the lower part of that.

Two-piece garments worn by women for athletic purposes have been observed in Greek urns and paintings, dated as early as 1400 BC.

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