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Guam (; ch, Guåhan ) is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the
Micronesia Micronesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other island regions: the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and ...

Micronesia
subregion of the western
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south, and is bounded by the continen ...

Pacific Ocean
. It is the westernmost point and territory of the United States (reckoned from the geographic center of the U.S.); its capital Hagåtña (144°45'00"E) lies further west than
Melbourne Melbourne ( ; Boonwurrung language, Boonwurrung/Woiwurrung–Taungurung language, Woiwurrung: ''Narrm'' or ''Naarm'') is the List of Australian capital cities, capital and List of cities in Australia by population, most populous city of the St ...

Melbourne
, Australia (144°57'47"E). In
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a region, geographical region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Spanning the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Western Hemisphere, Western hemispheres, Oceania is estimated to have a land area of ...

Oceania
, Guam is the largest and southernmost of the
Mariana Islands The Mariana Islands (; also the Marianas; in Chamorro language, Chamorro: ''Manislan Mariånas'') are a crescent-shaped archipelago comprising the summits of fifteen longitudinally oriented, mostly Volcano#Dormant and reactivated, dormant volcani ...
and the largest island in
Micronesia Micronesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other island regions: the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and ...

Micronesia
. Guam's capital is Hagåtña, and the most populous village is Dededo. People born on Guam are American citizens but have no vote in the United States presidential elections while residing on Guam and Guam delegates to the
United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives, often referred to as the House of Representatives, the U.S. House, or simply the House, is the Lower house, lower chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States Senate, Senate being ...
have no vote on the floor. Indigenous Guamanians are the Chamoru, historically known as the Chamorro, who are related to the Austronesian peoples of Indonesia, the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two r ...

Malaysia
,
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...

Taiwan
,
Micronesia Micronesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other island regions: the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and ...

Micronesia
, and
Polynesia Polynesia () "many" and νῆσος () "island"), to, Polinisia; mi, Porinihia; haw, Polenekia; fj, Polinisia; sm, Polenisia; rar, Porinetia; ty, Pōrīnetia; tvl, Polenisia; tkl, Polenihia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, made up of ...

Polynesia
. As of 2022, Guam's population is 168,801. Chamoros are the largest ethnic group, but a minority on the multi-ethnic island. The territory spans and has a population density of . The Chamoro people settled the island approximately 3,500 years ago. Portuguese explorer
Ferdinand Magellan Ferdinand Magellan ( or ; pt, Fernão de Magalhães, ; es, link=no, Fernando de Magallanes, ; 4 February 1480 – 27 April 1521) was a Portuguese people, Portuguese explorer. He is best known for having planned and led the Magellan expeditio ...

Ferdinand Magellan
, while in the service of Spain, was the first European to visit the island on March 6, 1521. Guam was colonized by
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...

Spain
in 1668. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Guam was an important stopover for the Spanish
Manila Galleons The Manila galleons ( es, Galeón de Manila; fil, Galyon ng Maynila) were Spain, Spanish trading sailing ship, ships which for two and a half centuries linked the Spanish Crown’s New Spain, Viceroyalty of New Spain, based in Mexico City, with ...
. During the
Spanish–American War , partof = the Philippine Revolution, the decolonization of the Americas, and the Cuban War of Independence , image = Collage infobox for Spanish-American War.jpg , image_size = 300px , caption = (clock ...
, the United States captured Guam on June 21, 1898. Under the Treaty of Paris, signed December 10, 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the U.S. effective April 11, 1899. Before
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, Guam was one of five American jurisdictions in the Pacific Ocean, along with
Wake Island Wake Island ( mh, Ānen Kio, translation=island of the Sida fallax, kio flower; also known as Wake Atoll) is a coral atoll in the western Pacific Ocean in the northeastern area of the Micronesia subregion, east of Guam, west of Honolulu, sou ...

Wake Island
in Micronesia,
American Samoa American Samoa ( sm, Amerika Sāmoa, ; also ' or ') is an unincorporated territories of the United States, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the Pacific Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the island country of Samoa ...

American Samoa
and
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western United States, located in the Pacific Ocean about from the U.S. mainland. It is the only U.S. state outside North America, the only state that is ...

Hawaii
in Polynesia, and the Philippines. On December 8, 1941, hours after the
attack on Pearl Harbor The attack on Pearl HarborAlso known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as t ...

attack on Pearl Harbor
, Guam was captured by the
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea ...

Japanese
, who occupied the island for two and a half years. During the occupation, Guamanians were subjected to forced labor, incarceration, torture and execution. American forces recaptured the island on July 21, 1944, which is commemorated as Liberation Day. Since the 1960s, Guam's economy has been supported primarily by tourism and the
U.S. military
U.S. military
, for which Guam is a major strategic asset. An unofficial but frequently used territorial motto is "Where America's Day Begins", which refers to the island's proximity to the
International Date Line The International Date Line (IDL) is an internationally accepted demarcation on the Earth#Surface, surface of Earth, running between the South Pole, South and North Poles and serving as the boundary between one calendar day and the next. It pa ...

International Date Line
. Guam is among the 17 non-self-governing territories listed by the United Nations, and has been a member of the
Pacific Community The Pacific Community (PC), formerly the South Pacific Commission (SPC), is an international development organisation governed by 27 members, including 22 Pacific island countries and territories. The organisation's headquarters are in Nouméa, ...
since 1983


History


Pre-Contact era

Guam, along with the
Mariana Islands The Mariana Islands (; also the Marianas; in Chamorro language, Chamorro: ''Manislan Mariånas'') are a crescent-shaped archipelago comprising the summits of fifteen longitudinally oriented, mostly Volcano#Dormant and reactivated, dormant volcani ...
, were the first islands settled by humans in
Remote Oceania Remote Oceania is the part of Oceania settled within the last 3,000 to 3,500 years, comprising south-eastern Island Melanesia and islands in the open Pacific east of the Solomon Islands (archipelago), Solomon Islands: Fiji, Micronesia, New Caled ...
. Incidentally it is also the first and the longest of the ocean-crossing voyages of the
Austronesian peoples The Austronesian peoples, sometimes referred to as Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of peoples in Taiwan, Maritime Southeast Asia, Micronesia, coastal New Guinea, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar that speak Austrones ...
, and is separate from the later Polynesian settlement of the rest of Remote Oceania. They were first settled around 1500 to 1400 BC by migrants departing from the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
. This was followed by a second migration from the
Caroline Islands The Caroline Islands (or the Carolines) are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically, they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in the centra ...
by the first millennium AD, and a third migration from
Island Southeast Asia Maritime Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and East Timor. Maritime Southeast Asia is sometimes also referred to as Island Southeast Asia, Insular Southeast Asia or Oceanic Sout ...
(likely the Philippines or eastern
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, including Sumatr ...

Indonesia
) by 900 AD. These original settlers of Guam and the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
evolved into the Chamoru people, historically known as Chamorros after first contact with the Spaniards. The ancient Chamoru society had four classes: (chiefs), (upper class), (middle class), and (lower class). The were located in the coastal villages, which meant they had the best access to fishing grounds, whereas the were located in the island's interior. and rarely communicated with each other, and often used as intermediaries. There were also "" or "", shamans with magical powers and "'" or "", healers who used different kinds of plants and natural materials to make medicine. Belief in spirits of ancient Chamorus called "" still persists as a remnant of pre-European culture. It is believed that "" or "" are the only ones who can safely harvest plants and other natural materials from their homes or "" without incurring the wrath of the "." Their society was organized along
matrilineal Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's Lineage (anthropology), lineage – and which can in ...
clans. The Chamoru people raised colonnades of megalithic capped pillars called upon which they built their homes. Latte stones are stone pillars that are found only in the Mariana Islands; they are a recent development in Pre-Contact Chamoru society. The latte-stone was used as a foundation on which thatched huts were built. Latte stones consist of a base shaped from limestone called the and with a capstone, or , made either from a large brain coral or limestone, placed on top. A possible source for these stones, the Rota Latte Stone Quarry, was discovered in 1925 on Rota.


Spanish era

The first European to travel to Guam was Portuguese navigator
Ferdinand Magellan Ferdinand Magellan ( or ; pt, Fernão de Magalhães, ; es, link=no, Fernando de Magallanes, ; 4 February 1480 – 27 April 1521) was a Portuguese people, Portuguese explorer. He is best known for having planned and led the Magellan expeditio ...

Ferdinand Magellan
, sailing for the
King of Spain , coatofarms = File:Coat_of_Arms_of_Spanish_Monarch.svg , coatofarms_article = Coat of arms of the King of Spain , image = Felipe_VI_in_2020_(cropped).jpg , incumbent = Felipe VI , incumbentsince = 19 Ju ...
, when he sighted the island on March 6, 1521, during his fleet's circumnavigation of the globe. Despite Magellan's visit, Guam was not officially claimed by Spain until January 26, 1565, by
Miguel López de Legazpi Miguel López de Legazpi (12 June 1502 – 20 August 1572), also known as ''Adelantado, El Adelantado'' and ''El Viejo'' (The Elder), was a Spaniard who, from the age of 26, lived and built a career in Mexico (then the Viceroyalty of New Sp ...
. From 1565 to 1815, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, the only Spanish outposts in the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines, were reprovisioning stops for the
Manila galleons The Manila galleons ( es, Galeón de Manila; fil, Galyon ng Maynila) were Spain, Spanish trading sailing ship, ships which for two and a half centuries linked the Spanish Crown’s New Spain, Viceroyalty of New Spain, based in Mexico City, with ...
, a fleet that covered the Pacific trade route between
Acapulco Acapulco de Juárez (), commonly called Acapulco ( , also , nah, Acapolco), is a city and major seaport in the Political divisions of Mexico, state of Guerrero on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, south of Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a dee ...
and
Manila Manila ( , ; fil, Maynila, ), officially the City of Manila ( fil, Lungsod ng Maynila, ), is the capital city, capital of the Philippines, and its second-most populous city. It is Cities of the Philippines#Independent cities, highly urbanize ...
. Spanish colonization commenced on June 15, 1668, with the arrival of a mission led by
Diego Luis de San Vitores Diego Luis de San Vitores, Society of Jesus, SJ (November 12, 1627 – April 2, 1672) was a Spanish Jesuit missionary who founded the first Catholic church on the island of Guam. He is responsible for establishing the Christian presence in the Ma ...
, who established the first Catholic church. The islands were part of the
Spanish East Indies The Spanish East Indies ( es , Indias orientales españolas ; fil, Silangang Indiyas ng Espanya) were the overseas territories of the Spanish Empire in Asia-Pacific, Asia and Oceania from 1565 to 1898, governed for the Spanish Crown from Mexico C ...
, and in turn part of the
Viceroyalty of New Spain New Spain, officially the Viceroyalty of New Spain ( es, Virreinato de Nueva España, ), or Kingdom of New Spain, was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Amer ...
, based in
Mexico City Mexico City ( es, link=no, Ciudad de México, ; abbr.: CDMX; Nahuatl: ''Altepetl Mexico'') is the capital city, capital and primate city, largest city of Mexico, and the List of North American cities by population, most populous city in North Amer ...
. The Spanish-Chamorro Wars on Guam began in 1670 over growing tensions with the Jesuit mission, with the last large-scale uprising in 1683. Intermittent warfare, plus the typhoons of 1671 and 1693, and in particular the
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by variola virus (often called smallpox virus) which belongs to the genus Orthopoxvirus. The Ali Maow Maalin#Maalin's case, last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977, and the World ...
epidemic of 1688, reduced the Chamoru population from 50,000 to 10,000, finally to less than 5,000. Up until the late 19th century, Guam was encountered by adventurers from pirates including
Thomas Cavendish Sir Thomas Cavendish (1560 – May 1592) was an English explorer and a privateer known as "The Navigator" because he was the first who deliberately tried to emulate Sir Francis Drake and raid the Spanish towns and ships in the Pacific and retu ...
,
Olivier van Noort Olivier van Noort (1558 – 22 February 1627) was a Dutch merchant captain and pirate and the first Dutchman to circumnavigation, circumnavigate the world.Quanchi, ''Historical Dictionary of the Discovery and Exploration of the Pacific Islands'', ...
, John Eaton,
William Dampier William Dampier (baptised 5 September 1651; died March 1715) was an English explorer, pirate, privateer, navigator, and naturalist who became the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circu ...
,
Woodes Rogers Woodes Rogers ( 1679 – 15 July 1732) was an English sea captain, privateer, Atlantic slave trade, slave trader and, from 1718, the first List of colonial heads of the Bahamas, Royal Governor of the Bahamas. He is known as the captain of ...
, John Clipperton, George Shelvocke and William "Bully" Hayes. The island became a rest stop for whalers starting in 1823. A devastating typhoon struck the island on August 10, 1848, followed by a severe earthquake on January 25, 1849, which resulted in many refugees from the
Caroline Islands The Caroline Islands (or the Carolines) are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically, they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in the centra ...
, victims of the resultant
tsunami A tsunami ( ; from ja, 津波, lit=harbour wave, ) is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a tsunamis in lakes, large lake. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and othe ...
. After a smallpox epidemic killed 3,644 Guamanians in 1856, Carolinians and Japanese were permitted to settle in the Marianas.


American era

After almost four centuries as part of the
Kingdom of Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
, the United States occupied the island following Spain's defeat in the 1898
Spanish–American War , partof = the Philippine Revolution, the decolonization of the Americas, and the Cuban War of Independence , image = Collage infobox for Spanish-American War.jpg , image_size = 300px , caption = (clock ...
, as part of the
Treaty of Paris of 1898 The Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, commonly known as the Treaty of Paris of 1898 ( fil, Kasunduan sa Paris ng 1898; es, Tratado de París de 1898), was a treaty signed by Spain and the United Stat ...
. Guam was transferred to the
United States Navy The United States Navy (USN) is the maritime military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most powerful navy in the world, with the es ...
control on December 23, 1898, by Executive Order 108-A from 25th President
William McKinley William McKinley (January 29, 1843September 14, 1901) was the 25th president of the United States, serving from 1897 until Assassination of William McKinley, his assassination in 1901. As a politician he led a realignment that made his Hist ...
. Guam was a station for American merchants and warships traveling to and from the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
(another American acquisition from Spain) while the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
were sold by Spain to Germany for part of its rapidly expanding
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
. A U.S. Navy yard was established at Piti in 1899, and a
United States Marine Corps The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is the maritime land force service branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting expeditionary and amphibious operations through c ...
barracks at Sumay in 1901.Rottman, G. (2004) ''Guam 1941 & 1944: Loss and Reconquest''. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, A marine seaplane unit was stationed in Sumay from 1921 to 1930, the first in the Pacific. The Commercial Pacific Cable Company built a telegraph/telephone station in 1903 for the first trans-Pacific communications cable, followed by
Pan American World Airways Pan American World Airways, originally founded as Pan American Airways and commonly known as Pan Am, was an American airline that was the principal and largest international air carrier and unofficial overseas flag carrier of the United States ...
established a seaplane base at Sumay for its trans-Pacific ''
China Clipper ''China Clipper'' (NC14716) was the first of three Martin M-130 four-engine flying boats built for Pan American Airways and was used to inaugurate the first commercial transpacific airmail service from San Francisco to Manila on November 22, 193 ...
'' route.


World War II

During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, the
Empire of Japan The also known as the Japanese Empire or Imperial Japan, was a historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II 1947 constitution and subsequent fo ...
attacked and invaded in the 1941 Battle of Guam on December 8, at the same time as the
attack on Pearl Harbor The attack on Pearl HarborAlso known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as t ...

attack on Pearl Harbor
. The Japanese renamed Guam (Great Shrine Island). The Japanese occupation of Guam lasted about 31 months. During this period, the indigenous people of Guam were subjected to forced labor, family separation, incarceration, execution, concentration camps, and forced prostitution. Approximately 1,000 people died during the occupation, according to later US Congressional committee testimony in 2004. Some historians estimate that war violence killed 10% of Guam's then 20,000 population. The
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
returned and fought the 1944 Battle of Guam from July 21 to August 10, to recapture the island. July 21 is now a territorial holiday, Liberation Day.


Post-war

After World War II, the Guam Organic Act of 1950 established Guam as an unincorporated organized territory of the United States, provided for the structure of the island's civilian government, and granted the people U.S. citizenship. The Governor of Guam was federally appointed until 1968 when the Guam Elective Governor Act provided for the office's popular election. Since Guam is not a U.S. state, U.S. citizens residing on Guam are not allowed to vote for president and their congressional representative is a non-voting member. They do, however, get to vote for party delegates in presidential primaries. In 1969, a referendum on unification with the Northern Mariana Islands was held and rejected. During the 1970s, Dr. Maryly Van Leer Peck started an engineering program, expanded
University of Guam University of Guam ( ch, Unibetsedåt Guåhan) (U.O.G.) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This i ...
, and founded Guam Community College. The removal of Guam's security clearance by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 allowed for the development of a
tourism Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring (disambiguation), touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tour (disambiguation), tours. Th ...
industry. When the United States closed U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and
Clark Air Base Clark Air Base is a Philippine Air Force base on Luzon Island in the Philippines, located west of Angeles City, about northwest of Metro Manila. Clark Air Base was previously a United States military facility, operated by the U.S. Air Forc ...
bases in the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
after the expiration of their leases in the early 1990s, many of the forces stationed there were relocated to Guam. The
1997 Asian financial crisis The Asian financial crisis was a period of financial crisis that gripped much of East Asia and Southeast Asia beginning in July 1997 and raised fears of a worldwide economic meltdown due to financial contagion. However, the recovery in 1998–1 ...
, which hit Japan particularly hard, severely affected Guam's tourism industry. Military cutbacks in the 1990s also disrupted the island's economy. Economic recovery was further hampered by devastation from Supertyphoons Paka in 1997 and Pongsona in 2002, as well as the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on tourism.


Geography and environment

Guam is long and wide, giving it an area of and making it the 32nd largest island of the United States. It is the southernmost and largest island in the Mariana Island archipelago, as well as the largest in
Micronesia Micronesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other island regions: the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and ...

Micronesia
. Guam's Point Udall is the westernmost point of the U.S., as measured from the geographic center of the United States. The Mariana chain of which Guam is a part was created by collision of the Pacific and Philippine Sea
tectonic plate Plate tectonics (from the la, label=Late Latin, tectonicus, from the grc, τεκτονικός, lit=pertaining to building) is the generally accepted scientific theory that considers the Earth's lithosphere to comprise a number of large te ...
s, with Guam located on the micro Mariana Plate between the two. Guam is the closest land mass to the
Mariana Trench The Mariana Trench is an oceanic trench located in the western Pacific Ocean, about east of the Mariana Islands; it is the deep sea, deepest oceanic trench on Earth. It is crescent-shaped and measures about in length and in width. The maxi ...
, the deep
subduction zone Subduction is a geological process in which the oceanic lithosphere is recycled Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. The Energy recycling, recovery of energy from waste materials is oft ...
that runs east of the Marianas. Volcanic eruptions established the base of the island in the
Eocene The Eocene ( ) Epoch is a geological epoch that lasted from about 56 to 33.9 million years ago (mya). It is the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the modern Cenozoic Era. The name ''Eocene'' comes from the Ancient Greek Anci ...
, roughly 56 to 33.9 million years ago. The north of Guam is a result of this base being covered with layers of
coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of Colony (biology), colonies of coral polyp (zoology), polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, wh ...
, turning into
limestone Limestone (calcium carbonate ) is a type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock which is the main source of the material Lime_(material), lime. It is composed mostly of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different Polymorphis ...
, and then being thrust upward by tectonic activity to create a plateau. The rugged south of the island is a result of more recent volcanic activity.
Cocos Island Cocos Island ( es, Isla del Coco) is an island in the Pacific Ocean administered by Costa Rica, approximately southwest of the Costa Rican mainland. It constitutes the 11th of the 13 districts of Puntarenas Canton of the Puntarenas Province, Pr ...
off the southern tip of Guam is the largest of the many small
islet An islet is a very small, often unnamed island. Most definitions are not precise, but some suggest that an islet has little or no vegetation and cannot support human habitation. It may be made of rock, sand and/or hard coral; may be permanent ...
s along the coastline. Guam's highest point is
Mount Lamlam Mount Lamlam (meaning ''lightning'' in Chamorro language, Chamoru) is a peak on the United States island of Guam. It is located near the village of Agat, Guam, Agat ( north), in the south-west of the island. Rising to above sea level, the distanc ...
at above sea level."Geography of Guam". ''Official site of Guam'', April 19, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from . If its base is considered to be the nearby ''Challenger'' Deep, the deepest surveyed point in the
Oceans The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% of Water distribution on Earth, Earth's water. An ocean can also refer to any of the ...
, Mount Lamlam is the world's highest mountain at . Politically, Guam is divided into 19 villages. The majority of the population lives on the coralline limestone plateaus of the north, with political and economic activity centered in the central and northern regions. The rugged geography of the south largely limits settlement to rural coastal areas. The western coast is
leeward Windward () and leeward () are terms used to describe the direction of the wind. Windward is ''upwind'' from the point of reference, i.e. towards the direction from which the wind is coming; leeward is ''downwind'' from the point of reference ...
of the
trade winds The trade winds or easterlies are the permanent east-to-west prevailing winds that flow in the Earth's equatorial region. The trade winds blow mainly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphe ...
and is the location of
Apra Harbor Apra Harbor, also called Port Apra, is a deep-water port on the western side of the United States territory of Guam. It is considered one of the best natural ports in the Pacific Ocean. The harbor is bounded by Cabras Island and the Glass Breakwat ...
, the capital Hagåtña, and the tourist center of
Tumon Tumon ( ch, Tomhom) is a district located on Tumon Bay along the northwest coast of the United States unincorporated territory of Guam. Located in the municipality of Tamuning, it is the center of Guam's tourist industry. History Tumon Bay or A ...
. The U.S. Defense Department owns about 29% of the island, under the management of Joint Region Marianas.


Climate

Guam has a
tropical rainforest climate A tropical rainforest climate, humid tropical climate or equatorial climate is a tropical climate sub-type usually found within 10 to 15 degrees latitude of the equator The equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that div ...
( Köppen ''Af''), though its driest month of March almost averages dry enough to qualify as a
tropical monsoon climate An area of tropical monsoon climate (occasionally known as a sub-equatorial, tropical wet climate or a tropical monsoon and trade-wind littoral climate) is a tropical climate sub-type that corresponds to the Köppen climate classification category ...
(Köppen ''Am''). The weather is generally hot and humid throughout the year with little seasonal temperature variation. Hence, Guam is known to have equable temperatures year-round.
Trade winds The trade winds or easterlies are the permanent east-to-west prevailing winds that flow in the Earth's equatorial region. The trade winds blow mainly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphe ...
are fairly constant throughout the year, but there is often a weak westerly monsoon influence in summer. Guam has two distinct seasons: Wet and dry season. The dry season runs from January through May and June being the transitional period. The wet season runs from July through November with an average annual rainfall between 1981 and 2010 of around . The wettest month on record at Guam Airport has been August 1997 with and the driest was February 2015 with . The wettest calendar year has been 1976 with and the driest was in 1998 with . The most rainfall in a single day occurred on October 15, 1953, when fell. The mean high temperature is and mean low is . Temperatures rarely exceed or fall below . The
relative humidity Humidity is the concentration of water vapor present in the air. Water vapor, the gaseous state of water, is generally invisible to the human eye. Humidity indicates the likelihood for precipitation (meteorology), precipitation, dew, or fog t ...
commonly exceeds 84 percent at night throughout the year, but the average monthly humidity hovers near 66 percent. The highest temperature ever recorded in Guam was on April 18, 1971, and April 1, 1990. A record low of was set on February 1, 2021, while the lowest recorded temperature was 65 °F (18.3 °C), set on February 8, 1973. Guam lies in the path of
typhoon A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone that develops between 180th meridian, 180° and 100th meridian east, 100°E in the Northern Hemisphere. This region is referred to as the Tropical cyclone basins#Northwestern Pacific Ocean, Northwestern P ...
s and it is common for the island to be threatened by tropical storms and possible typhoons during the wet season. The highest risk of typhoons is from August through November, where typhoons and tropical storms are most probable in the western Pacific. They can, however, occur year-round. Typhoons that have caused major damage on Guam in the American period include the Typhoon of 1900, Karen (1962), Pamela (1976), Paka (1997), and Pongsona (2002). Since Typhoon Pamela in 1976, wooden structures have been largely replaced by concrete structures. During the 1980s, wooden utility poles began to be replaced by typhoon-resistant concrete and steel poles. After the local Government enforced stricter construction codes, many home and business owners built their structures out of reinforced concrete with installed typhoon shutters.


Ecology

Guam has experienced severe impacts from
invasive species An invasive species otherwise known as an alien is an introduced species, introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment. Although most introduced species are neutral or beneficial with respect to other species, i ...
upon the natural
biodiversity Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic (''genetic variability''), species (''species diversity''), and ecosystem (''ecosystem d ...
of the island. These include the
local extinction Local extinction, also known as extirpation, refers to a species (or other taxon) of plant or animal that ceases to exist in a chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere. Local extinctions are contrasted with global extinct ...
of endemic bird species after the introduction of the
brown tree snake The brown tree snake (''Boiga irregularis''), also known as the brown catsnake, is an arboreal rear-fanged colubrid snake native to eastern and northern coastal Australia, eastern Indonesia (Sulawesi to Papua), Papua New Guinea, and many islands ...
, an infestation of the Asiatic rhinoceros beetle destroying
coconut The coconut tree (''Cocos nucifera'') is a member of the palm tree family (biology), family (Arecaceae) and the only living species of the genus ''Cocos''. The term "coconut" (or the archaic "cocoanut") can refer to the whole coconut palm, ...
palms, and the effect of introduced
feral A feral () animal or plant is one that lives in the wild but is descended from Domestication, domesticated individuals. As with an introduced species, the introduction of feral animals or plants to non-native regions may disrupt ecosystems an ...
mammal Mammals () are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (), characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding (nursing) their young, a neocortex (a region of the brain), fu ...
s and
amphibian Amphibians are tetrapod, four-limbed and ectothermic vertebrates of the Class (biology), class Amphibia. All living amphibians belong to the group Lissamphibia. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, with most species living within terres ...
s.
Wildfire A wildfire, forest fire, bushfire, wildland fire or rural fire is an unplanned, uncontrolled and unpredictable fire in an area of Combustibility and flammability, combustible vegetation. Depending on the type of vegetation present, a wildfire ...
s plague the forested areas of Guam every
dry season The dry season is a yearly period of low rainfall, especially in the tropics. The weather in the tropics is dominated by the tropical rain belt, which moves from the northern to the southern tropics and back over the course of the year. The ...
despite the island's humid climate. Most fires are caused by humans with 80% resulting from
arson Arson is the crime of willfully and deliberately setting fire to or charring property. Although the act of arson typically involves Building, buildings, the term can also refer to the intentional Combustion, burning of other things, such as ...
. Poachers often start fires to attract deer to the new growth. Invasive grass species that rely on fire as part of their natural life cycle grow in many regularly burned areas. Grasslands and "barrens" have replaced previously forested areas leading to greater soil erosion. During the rainy season, sediment is carried by the heavy rains into the Fena Lake Reservoir and Ugum River, leading to water quality problems for southern Guam. Eroded silt also destroys the marine life in reefs around the island. Soil stabilization efforts by volunteers and forestry workers (planting trees) have had little success in preserving natural habitats. Efforts have been made to protect Guam's coral reef habitats from pollution, eroded silt and overfishing, problems that have led to decreased fish populations. This has both ecological and economic value, as Guam is a significant vacation spot for scuba divers, and one study found that Guam's reefs are worth $127 million per year. In recent years, the Department of Agriculture, Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources has established several new marine preserves where fish populations are monitored by biologists. These are located at Pati Point, Piti Bomb Holes, Sasa Bay, Achang Reef Flat, and
Tumon Bay Tumon Bay is a bay in the United States territory of Guam, opening to the Philippine Sea. It is bounded to the north by Two Lovers Point and to the south by Ypao Point. The entirety of the bay falls within the Tumon Bay Marine Preserve, also known ...
. Before adopting
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent executive agency of the United States federal government tasked with environmental protection matters. President Richard Nixon pro ...
standards, portions of Tumon Bay were dredged by the hotel chains to provide a better experience for hotel guests. Tumon Bay has since been made into a preserve. A federal
Guam National Wildlife Refuge The Guam National Wildlife Refuge is composed of three units: the Andersen Air Force Base Overlay Unit (Air Force Overlay Unit), the Navy Overlay Unit, and the Ritidian Unit. The Ritidian Unit, known to the native CHamoru people as Puntan Litekyan, ...
in northern Guam protects the decimated
sea turtle Sea turtles (superfamily Chelonioidea), sometimes called marine turtles, are reptiles of the order Testudines and of the suborder Cryptodira. The seven existing species of sea turtles are the flatback sea turtle, flatback, green sea turtle, green ...
population in addition to a small colony of Mariana fruit bats. Harvest of sea turtle eggs was a common occurrence on Guam before World War II. The
green sea turtle The green sea turtle (''Chelonia mydas''), also known as the green turtle, black (sea) turtle or Pacific green turtle, is a species of large sea turtle of the Family (biology), family Cheloniidae. It is the only species in the genus ''Chelonia' ...
(''Chelonia mydas'') was harvested legally on Guam before August 1978, when it was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The
hawksbill sea turtle The hawksbill sea turtle (''Eretmochelys imbricata'') is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only extant species in the genus ''Eretmochelys''. The species has a global distribution, that is largel ...
(''Eretmochelys imbricata'') has been on the endangered list since 1970. In an effort to ensure the protection of sea turtles on Guam, routine sightings are counted during aerial surveys and nest sites are recorded and monitored for hatchlings.


Demographics

According to the
2010 United States Census The United States census of 2010 was the twenty-third United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in N ...
, the largest ethnic group were the native Chamorus, accounting for 37.3% of the total population. Asians (including Filipinos, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese) accounted for 33% of the total population. Other ethnic groups of
Micronesia Micronesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other island regions: the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and ...
(including those of Chuukese, Palauan, and Pohnpeians) accounted for 10%; 9.4% of the population were
multiracial Mixed race people are people of more than one race or ethnicity. A variety of terms have been used both historically and presently for mixed race people in a variety of contexts, including ''multiethnic'', ''polyethnic'', occasionally ''bi-eth ...
(two or more races); and
White Americans White Americans are Americans who identify as and are perceived to be white people. This group constitutes the majority of the people in the United States. As of the 2020 Census, 61.6%, or 204,277,273 people, were white alone. This represented ...
made up 7.1% of the total population. The estimated interracial marriage rate is over 40%. The official languages of the island are English and Chamoru Filipino is also commonly spoken across the island. Other Pacific and Asian languages are spoken in Guam as well.
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
, which was the language of administration for 300 years, influenced the Chamoru language. The predominant religion of Guam is
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
. Three-quarters of the population adheres to
Roman Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
, while most of the remainder belong to
Protestant Protestantism is a branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Na ...
churches. According to the
Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisanism in the United States, nonpartisan American think tank (referring to itself as a "fact tank") based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends ...
, the religious demography of Guam in 2010 was as follows: *
Roman Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
: 75% *
Protestantism Protestantism is a Christian denomination, branch of Christianity that follows the theological tenets of the Reformation, Protestant Reformation, a movement that began seeking to reform the Catholic Church from within in the 16th century agai ...
: 17.7% * Other religions: 1.6% * Folk religions: 1.5% * Other Christianity: 1.4% *
Buddhism Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
: 1.1% *
Eastern Orthodoxy Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main Branches of Christianity, branches of Chalcedonian Christianity, alongside Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestantism. Like the Pentarchy of the first m ...
: <1% *
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religions, Indian religion or ''dharma'', a religious and universal order or way of life by which followers abide. As a religion, it is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest, with over 1.2–1.35 billion ...
: <1% *
Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God in Islam, God (or ''Allah'') as it was revealed to Muh ...
: <1% *
Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots ...
: <1%


Culture

The culture of Guam is a reflection of traditional Chamoru customs in combination with American, Spanish and Mexican traditions. Post-European-contact Chamoru Guamanian culture is a combination of American, Spanish, Filipino, other Micronesian Islander and Mexican traditions. Few indigenous pre-Hispanic customs remained following Spanish contact but include plaiting and pottery, and there has been a resurgence of interest among the Chamoru to preserve the language and culture. Hispanic influences are manifested in the local language, music, dance, sea navigation, cuisine, fishing, games (such as , , , and ), songs, and fashion. The island's original community is of Chamorro natives who have inhabited Guam for almost 4000 years. They had their own language related to the languages of Indonesia and southeast Asia. The Spanish later called them Chamorros (a derivative of the word Chamorri is "noble race"). They began to grow rice on the island. Historically, the native people of Guam venerated the bones of their ancestors, keeping the skulls in their houses in small baskets, and practicing incantations before them when it was desired to attain certain objects. During Spanish rule (1668–1898) the majority of the population was converted to
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
and religious festivities such as Easter and Christmas became widespread. Many Chamorus have Spanish surnames, although few of the inhabitants are themselves descended from the Spaniards. Instead, Spanish names and surnames became commonplace after their conversion to Catholicism and the imposition of the Catálogo alfabético de apellidos in Guam. Historically, the diet of the native inhabitants of Guam consisted of fish, fowl, rice,
breadfruit Breadfruit (''Artocarpus altilis'') is a species of Flowering plant, flowering tree in the morus (plant), mulberry and jackfruit family (Moraceae) believed to be a domesticated plant, domesticated descendant of ''Artocarpus camansi'' originating ...
,
taro Taro () (''Colocasia esculenta)'' is a root vegetable. It is the most widely cultivated species of several plants in the family Araceae that are used as vegetables for their corms, leaves, and Petiole (botany), petioles. Taro corms are a food ...
, yams, bananas, and coconuts used in a variety of dishes. Post-contact Chamoru cuisine is largely based on corn, and includes tortillas, tamales, atole, and chilaquiles, which are a clear influence from
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in southern North America and most of Central America. It extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Withi ...
, principally Mexico, from Spanish trade with Asia. Due to foreign cultural influence from Spain, most aspects of the early indigenous culture have been lost, though there has been a resurgence in preserving any remaining pre-Hispanic culture in the last few decades. Some scholars have traveled throughout the Pacific Islands conducting research to study what the original Chamoru cultural practices such as dance, language, and canoe building may have been like.


Sports

Guam's most popular sport is
American football American football (referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada), also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with goalposts at each end. Th ...
, followed by
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately in diameter) through the defender' ...
and
baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball sport played between two team sport, teams of nine players each, taking turns batting (baseball), batting and Fielding (baseball), fielding. The game occurs over the course of several Pitch ...
respectively.
Soccer Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 Football player, players who primarily use their feet to propel the Ball (association football), ball around a rectangular field ca ...
and other sports are also somewhat popular. Guam hosted the
Pacific Games The Pacific Games (French: Jeux du Pacifique), is a continent, continental multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from Oceania. The inaugural Games took place in 1963 South Pacific Games, 1963 in Suva, Fiji, and most recently i ...
in
1975 It was also declared the ''International Women's Year'' by the United Nations and the European Architectural Heritage Year by the Council of Europe. Events January * January 1 - Watergate scandal (United States): John N. Mitchell, H. R. Ha ...
and
1999 File:1999 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: The funeral procession of King Hussein of Jordan Hussein bin Talal ( ar, الحسين بن طلال, ''Al-Ḥusayn ibn Ṭalāl''; 14 November 1935 – 7 February 1999) was King of Jordan ...
. At the 2007 Games, Guam finished 7th of 22 countries in the medal count, and 14th at the 2011 Games. Guam men's national basketball team and the women's team are traditional powerhouses in the Oceania region, behind the
Australia men's national basketball team The Australian men's national basketball team, known as the Boomers after the slang term for a male kangaroo, represents Australia in international basketball competition. Since the late 1980s, Australia has been placed among the world elite t ...
and the
New Zealand national basketball team The New Zealand men's national basketball team is the senior men's national basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the pr ...
. , the men's team is the reigning champion of the Pacific Games Basketball Tournament. Guam is home to various basketball organizations, including the Guam Basketball Association. The Guam national football team was founded in 1975 and joined
FIFA FIFA (; stands for ''Fédération Internationale de Football Association'' (French language, French), meaning International Association Football Federation ) is the international governing body of association football, beach football and futsa ...
in 1996. It was once considered one of FIFA's weakest teams, and experienced their first victory over a FIFA-registered side in 2009. Guam hosted qualifying games on the island for the first time in 2015 and, in 2018, clinched their first FIFA World Cup Qualifying win. The Guam national rugby union team played its first match in 2005 and has never qualified for a
Rugby World Cup The Rugby World Cup is a men's rugby union tournament contested every four years between the top international teams. The tournament is administered by World Rugby, the sport's international governing body. The winners are awarded the Webb E ...
.


Economy

Guam's economy depends primarily on tourism, Department of Defense installations and locally owned businesses. Under the provisions of a special law by
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the Representative democracy, representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political party, political parties, or other groups. The term originated in Late Middle Eng ...
, it is Guam's treasury rather than the U.S. treasury that receives the federal income taxes paid by local taxpayers (including military and civilian federal employees assigned to Guam).Lin, Tom C.W.
Americans, Almost and Forgotten
, 107 California Law Review (2019)


Tourism

Lying in the western Pacific, Guam is a popular destination for Japanese tourists. Its tourist hub,
Tumon Tumon ( ch, Tomhom) is a district located on Tumon Bay along the northwest coast of the United States unincorporated territory of Guam. Located in the municipality of Tamuning, it is the center of Guam's tourist industry. History Tumon Bay or A ...
, features over 20 large hotels, a Duty Free Shoppers Galleria, Pleasure Island district, indoor aquarium, Sandcastle
Las Vegas Las Vegas (; Spanish language, Spanish for "The Meadows"), often known simply as Vegas, is the List of United States cities by population, 25th-most populous city in the United States, the most populous city in the U.S. state, state of Neva ...
–styled shows and other shopping and entertainment venues. It is a relatively short flight from Asia or Australia compared to Hawaii, with hotels and seven public golf courses accommodating over a million tourists per year. Although 75% of the tourists are Japanese, Guam also receives a sizable number of tourists from South Korea, the U.S., the Philippines, and Taiwan. Significant sources of revenue include
duty-free A duty-free shop (or store) is a retailing, retail outlet whose goods are exempt from the payment of certain local or national taxes and duty (tax), duties, on the requirement that the goods sold will be sold to travelers who will take them ...
designer shopping outlets, and the American-style malls:
Micronesia Mall Micronesia Mall (Japanese: ミクロネシアモール) (Korean: 미크로네시아 몰) (Spanish: ) (Russian: Микронезия Молл), in Dededo at the intersection of Guam highways Guam Highway 1, 1 and Guam Highway 16, 16, is the larg ...
, Guam Premier Outlets, the Agana Shopping Center, and the world's largest
Kmart Kmart Corporation ( , doing business as Kmart and stylized as kmart) is an American retail company that owns a chain of Big-box store, big box department stores. The company is headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, United States. The co ...
. The economy had been stable since 2000 due to increased tourism. It was expected to stabilize with the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps' 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, currently in
Okinawa is a Prefectures of Japan, prefecture of Japan. Okinawa Prefecture is the southernmost and westernmost prefecture of Japan, has a population of 1,457,162 (as of 2 February 2020) and a geographic area of 2,281 Square kilometre, km2 (880 sq mi). ...
, Japan (approximately 8,000 Marines, along with their 10,000 dependents), to Guam between 2010 and 2015. However, the move was delayed until late 2020, the number of marines decreased to 5,000, and expected to be complete in 2025. In 2003, Guam had a 14% unemployment rate, and the government suffered a $314 million shortfall. As of 2019 the unemployment rate had dropped to 6.1%. By September 2020, however, the unemployment rate had risen again to 17.9%. The Compacts of Free Association between the United States, the
Federated States of Micronesia The Federated States of Micronesia (; abbreviated FSM) is an island country in Oceania. It consists of four Administrative divisions of the Federated States of Micronesia#States, states from west to east, Yap State, Yap, Chuuk State, Chuuk, P ...
, the Republic of the
Marshall Islands The Marshall Islands ( mh, Ṃajeḷ), officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands ( mh, Aolepān Aorōkin Ṃajeḷ),'' () is an independent island country and microstate near the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the Internati ...
, and the Republic of
Palau Palau,, officially the Republic of Palau and historically ''Belau'', ''Palaos'' or ''Pelew'', is an island country and microstate in the western Pacific Ocean, Pacific. The nation has approximately 340 islands and connects the western ch ...
accorded the former entities of the
Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) was a United Nations trust territory in Micronesia Micronesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared ...
a political status of "free association" with the United States. The Compacts give citizens of these island nations generally no restrictions to reside in the United States (also its territories), and many were attracted to Guam due to its proximity, environmental, and cultural familiarity. Over the years, it was claimed by some in Guam that the territory has had to bear the brunt of this agreement in the form of public assistance programs and public education for those from the regions involved, and the federal government should compensate the states and territories affected by this type of migration. Over the years, Congress had appropriated "Compact Impact" aids to Guam, the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
, and Hawaii, and eventually this appropriation was written into each renewed Compact. Some, however, continue to claim the compensation is not enough or that the distribution of actual compensation received is significantly disproportionate. Guam's largest single private sector employer, with about 1,400 jobs, was
Continental Micronesia Continental Micronesia, Inc. (CMI) was a company which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Continental Airlines Continental Airlines, simply known as Continental, was a major United States airline founded in 1934 and eventually headquartered ...
, a subsidiary of
Continental Airlines Continental Airlines, simply known as Continental, was a major United States airline founded in 1934 and eventually headquartered in Houston, Texas. It had ownership interests and brand partnerships with several carriers. Continental started ...
; it is now a part of
United Airlines United Airlines, Inc. (commonly referred to as United), is a major American airline headquartered at the Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. Its larg ...
, a subsidiary of Chicago-based United Airlines Holdings, Inc. the Continental Micronesia annual payroll in Guam was $90 million.


Military bases

Currently, Joint Region Marianas maintains jurisdiction over installations which cover approximately , or 29% of the island's total land area. These include: * U.S.
Naval Base Guam Naval Base Guam is a strategic United States Navy#United States territories, U.S. naval base located on Apra Harbor and occupying the Orote Peninsula. In 2009, it was combined with Andersen Air Force Base to form Joint Region Marianas, which is a ...
, U.S. Navy (Santa Rita), comprising the Orote Peninsula, additional lands, and with jurisdiction of the majority of
Apra Harbor Apra Harbor, also called Port Apra, is a deep-water port on the western side of the United States territory of Guam. It is considered one of the best natural ports in the Pacific Ocean. The harbor is bounded by Cabras Island and the Glass Breakwat ...
*
Andersen Air Force Base Andersen Air Force Base (Andersen AFB, AAFB) is a United States Air Force base located primarily within the village A village is a clustered human settlement or Residential community, community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet ...
, U.S. Air Force (Yigo), including Northwest Field *
Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Blaz is a U.S. Marine Corps facility located in the village A village is a clustered human settlement or Residential community, community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (alth ...
, U.S. Marine Corps (Dededo) * Ordnance Annex, U.S. Navy – South Central Highlands (formerly known as Naval Magazine) *
Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Guam Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Guam (NCTS Guam) is a United States Navy communications facility on the U.S. territory of Guam. It is located on the Naval Base Guam North Finegayan Telecommunications Site along Guam Highway 3 in Dede ...
, U.S. Navy (Dededo), sometimes referred to "NCTS Finegayan" * Naval Radio Station Barrigada (Barrigada), often referred to as "Radio Barrigada" * Joint Region Marianas Headquarters (Asan), at Nimitz Hill Annex * Naval Hospital Guam (Agana Heights) * South Finegayan (Dededo), a military housing complex * Andersen South (Yigo), formerly Marine Barracks Guam until its closure in 1992 * Fort Juan Muña, Guam National Guard (Tamuning) The U.S. military proposed building a new aircraft carrier berth on Guam and moving 8,600 Marines, and 9,000 of their dependents, to Guam from
Okinawa is a Prefectures of Japan, prefecture of Japan. Okinawa Prefecture is the southernmost and westernmost prefecture of Japan, has a population of 1,457,162 (as of 2 February 2020) and a geographic area of 2,281 Square kilometre, km2 (880 sq mi). ...
, Japan. Including the required construction workers, this buildup would increase Guam's population by a total of 79,000, a 49% increase over its 2010 population of 160,000. In a February 2010 letter, the
United States Environmental Protection Agency The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent executive agency of the United States federal government tasked with environmental protection matters. President Richard Nixon pro ...
sharply criticized these plans because of a water shortfall, sewage problems and the impact on coral reefs. As of 2022, the Marine Corps has decided to place 5,000 Marines on the island within the first half of the 2020s, with 1300 already stationed on the base.


Government and politics

Guam is governed by a popularly elected
governor A governor is an administrative leader and head of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized s ...
and a
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
15-member
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
, whose members are known as senators. Its judiciary is overseen by the Supreme Court of Guam. The District Court of Guam is the court of United States federal jurisdiction in the territory. Guam elects one delegate to the United States House of Representatives, currently Democrat Michael San Nicolas. The delegate does not have a vote on the final passage of legislation, but is accorded a vote in committee, and the privilege to speak to the House. U.S. citizens in Guam vote in a presidential straw poll for their choice in the U.S. presidential general election, but since Guam has no votes in the Electoral College, the poll has no real effect. However, in sending delegates to the Republican and Democratic national conventions, Guam does have influence in the national presidential race. These delegates are elected by local party conventions.


Political status

In the 1980s and early 1990s, there was a significant movement in favor of this U.S. territory becoming a
commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy, economics, and political science, the common good (also commonwealth, general welfare, or public benefit) is either what is share ...
, which would give it a level of self-government similar to
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico), is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...
and the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
. In a 1982 plebiscite, voters indicated interest in seeking commonwealth status. However, the federal government rejected the version of a commonwealth that the government of Guam proposed, because its clauses were incompatible with the
Territorial Clause Article Four of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally ...
(Art. IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2) of the U.S. Constitution. Other movements advocate U.S. statehood for Guam, union with the state of Hawaii, or union with the Northern Mariana Islands as a single territory, or independence. A Commission on Decolonization was established in 1997 to educate the people of Guam about the various political status options in its relationship with the U.S.: statehood, free association, and independence. The island has been considering another non-binding plebiscite on decolonization since 1998; however, the group was dormant for some years. In 2013, the commission began seeking funding to start a public education campaign. There were few subsequent developments until late 2016. In early December 2016, the Commission scheduled a series of education sessions in various villages about the current status of Guam's relationship with the U.S. and the self-determination options that might be considered. The commission's current executive director is Edward Alvarez and there are ten members. The group is also expected to release position papers on independence and statehood but the contents have not yet been completed. The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
is in favor of greater self-determination for Guam and other such territories. The UN's
Special Committee on Decolonization The United Nations Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, or the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24), is a committee of ...
has agreed to endorse the Governor's education plan. The commission's May 2016 report states: "With academics from the University of Guam, he Commissionwas working to create and approve educational materials. The Office of the Governor was collaborating closely with the Commission" in developing educational materials for the public. The United States
Department of the Interior The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is one of the United States federal executive departments, executive departments of the Federal government of the United States, U.S. federal government headquartered at the Main Interior Buil ...
had approved a $300,000 grant for decolonization education, Edward Alvarez told the United Nations Pacific Regional Seminar in May 2016. "We are hopeful that this might indicate a shift in nited Statespolicy to its Non-Self-Governing Territories such as Guam, where they will be more willing to engage in discussions about our future and offer true support to help push us towards true self-governances and self-determination." On July 31, 2020, the
Government of Guam The Government of Guam (GovGuam) is a presidential system, presidential representative democracy, representative democratic system, whereby the President of the United States, President is the head of state and the List of Guam Governors, Govern ...
joined the
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, or simply UNPO is an international organization established to facilitate the voices of unrepresented and marginalised nations and peoples worldwide. It was formed on 11 February 1991 in The Ha ...
(UNPO).


Villages

Guam is divided into 19 municipal villages: * Agana Heights * Asan‑Maina *
Barrigada Barrigada ( ch, Barigåda) is a village in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North Am ...
* Chalan Pago‑Ordot *
Dededo Dededo ( ch, Dedidu; formerly in Spanish language, Spanish: , in Japanese language, Japanese: , ''Dededo'') is the most populated Villages of Guam, village in the Territories of the United States, United States territory of Guam. According to the U ...
* Hågat * Hagåtña * Humåtak * Inalåhan * Malesso * Mangilao * Mongmong‑Toto‑Maite * Piti * Sånta Rita-Sumai * Sinajana * Talo'fo'fo *
Tamuning Tamuning, also known as Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon ( ch, Tamuneng) is a Villages of Guam, village located on the western shore of the United States territory of Guam. The village of Tamuning is the economic center of Guam, containing tourist center T ...
*
Yigo Yigo, Guam ( ch, Yigu; pronounced ) is the northernmost village of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primaril ...
*
Yona The word Yona in Pali and the Prakrits, and the analogue Yavana in Sanskrit and Yavanar in Tamil language, Tamil, were words used in Ancient India to designate Greek language, Greek speakers. "Yona" and "Yavana" are transliterations of the G ...


Transportation and communications

Most of the island has state-of-the-art mobile phone services and high-speed internet widely available through either cable or DSL. Guam was added to the
North American Numbering Plan The North American Numbering Plan (NANP) is a telephone numbering plan for twenty-five regions in twenty countries, primarily in North America and the Caribbean. This group is historically known as World Zone 1 and has the international calling ...
(NANP) in 1997 (country code 671 became NANP area code 671), removing the barrier of high-cost international long-distance calls to the U.S. mainland. Guam is also a major hub for submarine cables between the Western U.S., Hawaii, Australia and Asia. Guam currently serves twelve submarine cables, with most continuing to China. In 2012 ''
Slate Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism. It is the finest grained foliated metamorphic rock ...
'' stated that the island has "tremendous bandwidth" and internet prices comparable to those of the U.S. Mainland due to being at the junction of undersea cables. In 1899, the local postage stamps were overprinted "Guam" as was done for the other former Spanish colonies, but this was discontinued shortly thereafter and regular U.S. postage stamps have been used ever since. Because Guam is also part of the U.S. Postal System ( postal abbreviation: GU, ZIP code range: 96910–96932), mail to Guam from the U.S. mainland is considered domestic and no additional charges are required. Private shipping companies, such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL, however, have no obligation to do so, and do not regard Guam as domestic. The speed of mail traveling between Guam and the states varies depending on size and time of year. Light, first-class items generally take less than a week to or from the mainland, but larger first-class or Priority items can take a week or two. Fourth-class mail, such as magazines, are transported by sea after reaching Hawaii. Most residents use post office boxes or private mail boxes, although residential delivery is becoming increasingly available. Incoming mail not from the Americas should be addressed to "Guam" instead of "USA" to avoid being routed the long way through the U.S. mainland and possibly charged a higher rate (especially from Asia). The Port of Guam is the island's lifeline because most products must be shipped into Guam for consumers. It receives the weekly calls of the Hawaii-based shipping line Matson, Inc. whose container ships connect Guam with Honolulu, Hawaii; Los Angeles, California; Oakland, California and Seattle, Washington. The port is also the regional transhipment hub for over 500,000 customers throughout the Micronesian region. The port is the shipping and receiving point for containers designated for the island's U.S. Department of Defense installations, Andersen Air Force Base and Commander, Naval Forces Marianas and eventually the Third Marine Expeditionary Force. Guam is served by the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. The island is outside the United States customs zone, so Guam is responsible for establishing and operating its own customs and quarantine agency and jurisdiction. Therefore, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection only carries out immigration (but not customs) functions. Since Guam is under federal immigration jurisdiction, passengers arriving directly from the United States skip immigration and proceed directly to Guam Customs and Quarantine. However, due to the Guam and CNMI visa waiver program for certain countries, an eligibility pre-clearance check is carried on Guam for flights to the States. For travel from the Northern Mariana Islands to Guam, a pre-flight passport and visa check is performed before boarding the flight to Guam. On flights from Guam to the Northern Mariana Islands, no immigration check is performed. Traveling between Guam and the States through a foreign point, however, does require a passport. Most residents travel within Guam using personally owned vehicles. The Guam Regional Transit Authority provides fixed route bus and paratransit services, and some commercial companies operate buses between tourist-frequented locations.


Education

Guam Public Library System operates the Nieves M. Flores Memorial Library in Hagåtña and five branch libraries. The
Guam Department of Education The Guam Department of Education (GDOE), formerly the Guam Public School System, is a school district that serves the United States territory of Guam. The school district can be thought of as analogous to the school districts of other cities and co ...
serves the entire island of Guam. In 2000, 32,000 students attended Guam's public schools, including 26 elementary schools, eight middle schools, and six high schools and alternative schools. Guam Public Schools have struggled with problems such as high dropout rates and poor test scores. Guam's educational system has always faced unique challenges as a small community located from the U.S. mainland with a very diverse student body including many students who come from backgrounds without traditional American education. An economic downturn in Guam since the mid-1990s has compounded the problems in schools. Before September 1997, the U.S. Department of Defense partnered with Guam Board of Education. In September 1997, the
Department of Defense Education Activity The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is a federal school system headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and managing prekindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behal ...
(DoDEA) opened its own schools for children of military personnel. DoDEA schools, which also serve children of some federal civilian employees, had an attendance of 2,500 in 2000. DoDEA Guam operates three elementary/middle schools and one high school. The
University of Guam University of Guam ( ch, Unibetsedåt Guåhan) (U.O.G.) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This i ...
(UOG) and Guam Community College, both fully accredited by the
Western Association of Schools and Colleges The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) was an organization providing accreditation of public and private universities, colleges, secondary and elementary schools in California California is a U.S. state, state in the ...
, offer courses in higher education. UOG is a member of the exclusive group of only 106 land-grant institutions in the entire United States. Pacific Islands University is a small Christian liberal arts institution nationally accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.


Health care

The Government of Guam maintains the island's main health care facility, Guam Memorial Hospital, in
Tamuning Tamuning, also known as Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon ( ch, Tamuneng) is a Villages of Guam, village located on the western shore of the United States territory of Guam. The village of Tamuning is the economic center of Guam, containing tourist center T ...
. U.S. board certified doctors and dentists practice in all specialties. In addition, the U.S. Naval Hospital in Agana Heights serves active-duty members and dependents of the military community. There is one subscriber-based
air ambulance Air medical services is a comprehensive term covering the use of air transportation, aeroplane or helicopter, to move patients to and from healthcare facilities and accident scenes. Personnel provide comprehensive prehospital and emergency and cri ...
located on the island, CareJet, which provides emergency patient transportation across Guam and surrounding islands. A private hospital, the Guam Regional Medical City, opened its doors in early 2016. Medicaid is accepted in Guam.


See also

*
51st state 51st state in Politics of the United States, American political discourse refers to areas considered candidates for U.S. statehood, joining the 50 states that have constituted the United States since 1959. The phrase has been applied to external ...
* Index of Guam-related articles * Lists of hospitals in the United States#Insular areas * List of people from Guam * Outline of Guam * Voting in Guam


Notes


References


Further reading

* Maga, Timothy P. ''Defending Paradise: The United States and Guam, 1898–1950'' (Garland, 1988). * Rogers, Robert F. ''Destiny's Landfall: A History of Guam'' (U of Hawaii Press, 1995). * Spear, Jane E. "Guamanian Americans." ''Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America,'' edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 2, Gale, 2014), pp. 263–273
online


External links

*
Guampedia, Guam's Online Encyclopedia

"Guam Society of America"
fosters the CHamoru language, culture, and traditions
''The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands''
PBS documentary film website.
Guam
''
The World Factbook ''The World Factbook'', also known as the ''CIA World Factbook'', is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official print version is availab ...
''.
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ), known informally as the Agency and historically as the Company, is a civilian intelligence agency, foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gat ...
.
U.S. Census Bureau: Island Areas Census 2000


*

from the U.S.
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (so ...
. * *
Guam Census
{{Authority control 1898 establishments in Oceania English-speaking countries and territories Former Spanish colonies Geography of Micronesia Insular areas of the United States Island countries Islands of Oceania Members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization Pacific islands of the United States Small Island Developing States States and territories established in 1898 World War II sites