Guam (// (listen); Chamorro: Guåhan [ˈɡʷɑhɑn]) is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the Micronesia subregion of the western Pacific Ocean. It is the westernmost point and territory of the United States; in Oceania, it is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands and the largest island in Micronesia. Guam's capital is Hagåtña, and the most populous city is Dededo.
Tånó y CHamoru (Chamorro) (English: "Land of the CHamoru")
Tånó I' Man CHamoru (Chamorro)
(English: "Land of the CHamorus")
|Anthem: "Stand Ye Guamanians"|
Location of Guam (circled in red)
|Sovereign state||United States|
|Before annexation||Spanish East Indies|
|Cession from Spain||April 11, 1899|
|Ethnic groups |
2% Other Asian
|Government||Devolved presidential constitutional dependency|
|Joe Biden (D)|
|Lou Leon Guerrero (D)|
• Lt. Governor
|Josh Tenorio (D)|
|Legislature||Legislature of Guam|
|United States Congress|
• House delegate
|Michael San Nicolas (D)|
|540 km2 (210 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||1,334 ft (407 m)|
• 2021 estimate
|299/km2 (774.4/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2016 estimate|
• Per capita
|HDI (2017)|| 0.901|
|Currency||United States dollar (US$) (USD)|
|Time zone||UTC+10:00 (ChST)|
|ISO 3166 code|
People born in Guam are American citizens by birth. Indigenous Guamanians are the CHamoru, historically known as the Chamorro, who are related to the Austronesian peoples of Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Micronesia, and Polynesia. As of 2021, Guam's population is 168,801. CHamorus are the largest ethnic group, but a minority on the multi-ethnic island. The territory spans 210 square miles (540 km2; 130,000 acres) and has a population density of 775 per square mile (299/km2).
The CHamoru people settled the island approximately 3,500 years ago. Portuguese explorer 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 in 1668. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Guam was an important stopover for the Spanish Manila Galleons. During the Spanish–American War, 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, Guam was one of five American jurisdictions in the Pacific Ocean, along with Wake Island in Micronesia, American Samoa and Hawaii in Polynesia, and the Philippines. On December 8, 1941, hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was captured by the 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, 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. Guam is among the 17 non-self-governing territories listed by the United Nations, and has been a member of the Pacific Community since 1983.
Geography and environment
It is 30 miles (50 kilometers) long and 4 to 12 miles (6 to 19 kilometers) wide, giving it an area of 212 square miles (549 square kilometers) (three-fourths the size of Singapore) 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. Guam's Point Udall is the westernpoint 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 plates, with Guam located on the micro Mariana Plate between the two. Guam is the closest land mass to the Mariana Trench, the deep subduction zone that runs east of the Marianas. Volcanic eruptions established the base of the island in the Eocene, 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, turning into limestone, 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 off the southern tip of Guam is the largest of the many small islets along the coastline. Guam's highest point is Mount Lamlam at 1,334 feet (407 meters) above sea level. If its base is considered to be nearby Challenger Deep, the deepest surveyed point in the Oceans, Mount Lamlam is the world's highest mountain at 37,820 feet (11,530 m).
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 of the trade winds and is the location of Apra Harbor, the capital Hagåtña, and the tourist center of Tumon. The U.S. Defense Department owns about 29% of the island, under the management of Joint Region Marianas.
Guam has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen Af), though its driest month of March almost averages dry enough to qualify as a tropical monsoon climate (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 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 98 inches or 2,490 millimeters. The wettest month on record at Guam Airport has been August 1997 with 38.49 inches (977.6 mm) and the driest was February 2015 with 0.15 inches (3.8 mm). The wettest calendar year has been 1976 with 131.70 inches (3,345.2 mm) and the driest was in 1998 with 57.88 inches (1,470.2 mm). The most rainfall in a single day occurred on October 15, 1953, when 15.48 inches or 393.2 millimeters fell.
The mean high temperature is 86 °F or 30 °C and mean low is 76 °F (24.4 °C). Temperatures rarely exceed 90 °F (32.2 °C) or fall below 70 °F (21.1 °C). The relative humidity 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 96 °F (35.6 °C) on April 18, 1971, and April 1, 1990. A record low of 69 °F (21 °C) 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 typhoons 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.
|Record high °F (°C)||94
|Average high °F (°C)||84.9
|Daily mean °F (°C)||80.2
|Average low °F (°C)||75.5
|Record low °F (°C)||66
|Average rainfall inches (mm)||4.96
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 in)||18.8||15.7||16.8||17.0||19.3||22.6||24.7||25.3||24.3||25.1||23.4||22.1||255.1|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||176.7||186.0||217.0||213.0||220.1||195.0||155.0||142.6||132.0||133.3||135.0||142.6||2,048.3|
|Source 1: NOAA (normals)|
|Source 2: Hong Kong Observatory (sun only 1961–1990)|
Guam has experienced severe impacts from invasive species upon the natural biodiversity of the island. These include the local extinction of endemic bird species after the introduction of the brown tree snake, an infestation of the Asiatic rhinoceros beetle destroying coconut palms, and the effect of introduced feral mammals and amphibians.
Wildfires plague the forested areas of Guam every dry season despite the island's humid climate. Most fires are caused by humans with 80% resulting from arson. 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. 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. Before adopting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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 in northern Guam protects the decimated sea turtle 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 (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 (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.
Guam, along with the Mariana Islands, were the first islands settled by humans in Remote Oceania. Incidentally it is also the first and the longest of the ocean-crossing voyages of the Austronesian peoples, 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. This was followed by a second migration from the Caroline Islands by the first millennium AD, and a third migration from Island Southeast Asia (likely the Philippines or eastern Indonesia) by 900 AD.
These original settlers of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands evolved into the CHamoru people, historically known as Chamorros after first contact with the Spaniards.:16 The ancient CHamoru society had four classes: chamorri (chiefs), matua (upper class), achaot (middle class), and mana'chang (lower class).:20–21 The matua were located in the coastal villages, which meant they had the best access to fishing grounds, whereas the mana'chang were located in the island's interior. Matua and mana'chang rarely communicated with each other, and matua often used achaot as intermediaries. There were also "makåhna" or "kakahna", shamans with magical powers and "'suruhånu" or "suruhåna", healers who used different kinds of plants and natural materials to make medicine. Belief in spirits of ancient CHamorus called "Taotao mo'na" still persists as a remnant of pre-European culture. It is believed that "suruhånu" or "suruhåna" are the only ones who can safely harvest plants and other natural materials from their homes or "hålomtåno" without incurring the wrath of the "Taotao mo'na." Their society was organized along matrilineal clans.:21
The CHamoru people raised colonnades of megalithic capped pillars called latte stones 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.:26 Latte stones consist of a base shaped from limestone called the haligi and with a capstone, or tåsa, made either from a large brain coral or limestone, placed on top.:27–28 A possible source for these stones, the Rota Latte Stone Quarry, was discovered in 1925 on Rota.:28
The first European to travel to Guam was Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, sailing for the King of Spain, when he sighted the island on March 6, 1521, during his fleet's circumnavigation of the globe.:41–42 Despite Magellan's visit, Guam was not officially claimed by Spain until January 26, 1565, by Miguel López de Legazpi.:46 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, a fleet that covered the Pacific trade route between Acapulco and Manila.:51
Spanish colonization commenced on June 15, 1668 with the arrival of a mission led by Diego Luis de San Vitores, who established the first Catholic church.:64 The islands were part of the Spanish East Indies, and in turn part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, based in Mexico City.:68 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 epidemic of 1688, reduced the Chamoru population from 50,000 to 10,000, finally to less than 5,000.:86
The island became a rest stop for whalers starting in 1823.:145 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, victims of the resultant tsunami.:151 After a smallpox epidemic killed 3,644 Guamanians in 1856, Carolinians and Japanese were permitted to settle in the Marianas.:157
After almost four centuries as part of the Kingdom of Spain, the United States occupied the island following Spain's defeat in the 1898 Spanish–American War, as part of the Treaty of Paris of 1898. Guam was transferred to the United States Navy control on December 23, 1898, by Executive Order 108-A from 25th President William McKinley.
Guam was a station for American merchants and warships traveling to and from the Philippines (another American acquisition from Spain) while the Northern Mariana Islands were sold by Spain to Germany for part of its rapidly expanding German Empire. A U.S. Navy yard was established at Piti in 1899, and a United States Marine Corps barracks at Sumay in 1901.:13 A marine seaplane unit was stationed in Sumay from 1921 to 1930, the first in the Pacific.:13 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 established a seaplane base at Sumay for its trans-Pacific China Clipper route.:15
World War II
During World War II, Guam was attacked and invaded by Japan on Monday, December 8, 1941, at the same time as the attack on Pearl Harbor, across the International Date Line. The Japanese renamed Guam Ōmiya-jima (Great Shrine Island). The Japanese occupation of Guam lasted for approximately 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 Congressional committee testimony in 2004. Some historians estimate that war violence killed 10% of Guam's then 20,000 population. The United States returned and fought the Battle of Guam from July 21 to August 10, 1944, to recapture the island from Japanese military occupation. July 21 is now celebrated as Liberation Day, a territorial holiday.
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.:242 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. During the 1970s Dr. Maryly Van Leer Peck started an engineering program, expanded University of Guam, and founded Guam Community College.:17
The removal of Guam's security clearance by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 allowed for the development of a tourism industry. The island's rapid economic development was fueled both by rapid growth in this industry as well as increased U.S. Federal Government spending during the 1980s and 1990s. Guam's U.S. military installations remain among the most strategically vital in the Pacific Ocean. When the United States closed U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and Clark Air Base bases in the 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, 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.
According to the 2010 United States Census, the largest ethnic group are the native CHamorus, accounting for 37.3% of the total population. Asians (including Filipinos, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese) account for 33% of the total population. Other ethnic groups of Micronesia (including those of Chuukese, Palauan, and Pohnpeians) accounts for 10% of the total population. 9.4% of the population are multiracial (two or more races). White Americans account for 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 a common language across the island. Other Pacific island languages and many Asian languages are spoken in Guam as well. Spanish, the language of administration for 300 years, is no longer commonly spoken on the island, although vestiges of the language remain in proper names, loanwords, and place names and it is studied at university and high schools.
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. Hispanic influences are manifested in the local language, music, dance, sea navigation, cuisine, fishing, games (such as batu, chonka, estuleks, and bayogu), 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 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, taro, 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, 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.
Guam's most popular sport is American football, followed by basketball and baseball respectively. Soccer and other sports are also somewhat popular. Guam hosted the Pacific Games in 1975 and 1999. 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 and the New Zealand national basketball team. As of 2019, 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 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.
Guam's economy depends primarily on tourism, Department of Defense installations and locally owned businesses. Under the provisions of a special law by Congress, 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).
Lying in the western Pacific, Guam is a popular destination for Japanese tourists. Its tourist hub, Tumon, features over 20 large hotels, a Duty Free Shoppers Galleria, Pleasure Island district, indoor aquarium, Sandcastle Las Vegas–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 and the United States. Significant sources of revenue include duty-free designer shopping outlets, and the American-style malls: Micronesia Mall, Guam Premier Outlets, the Agana Shopping Center, and the world's largest Kmart.
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, 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 Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau accorded the former entities of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands 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, 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.
As of 2008 Guam's largest single private sector employer, with about 1,400 jobs, was Continental Micronesia, a subsidiary of Continental Airlines; it is now a part of United Airlines, a subsidiary of Chicago-based United Airlines Holdings, Inc. As of 2008 the Continental Micronesia annual payroll in Guam was $90 million.
Currently, Joint Region Marianas maintains jurisdiction over installations which cover approximately 39,000 acres (16,000 ha), or 29% of the island's total land area. These include:
- U.S. Naval Base Guam, U.S. Navy (Santa Rita), comprising the Orote Peninsula, additional lands, and with jurisdiction of the majority of Apra Harbor
- Andersen Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force (Yigo), including Northwest Field
- Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, U.S. Marine Corps (Dededo)
- Ordnance Annex, U.S. Navy – South Central Highlands (formerly known as Naval Magazine)
- Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Guam, 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 has proposed building a new aircraft carrier berth on Guam and moving 8,600 Marines, and 9,000 of their dependents, to Guam from Okinawa, 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 sharply criticized these plans because of a water shortfall, sewage problems and the impact on coral reefs. By 2012, these plans had been cut to have only a maximum of 4,800 Marines stationed on the island, two thirds of whom would be there on a rotational basis without their dependents.
Government and politics
Guam is governed by a popularly elected governor and a unicameral 15-member legislature, 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.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, there was a significant movement in favor of this U.S. territory becoming a commonwealth, which would give it a level of self-government similar to Puerto Rico and the 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 (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 is in favor of greater self-determination for Guam and other such territories. The UN's Special Committee on Decolonization has agreed to endorse the Governor's education plan. The commission's May 2016 report states: "With academics from the University of Guam, [the Commission] was 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 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 [United States] policy 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."
Guam is divided into 19 municipal villages:
- Agana Heights
- Chalan Pago‑Ordot
- Santa Rita
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 (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 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 local government currently outsources the only public bus system (Guam Regional Transit Authority), and some commercial companies operate buses between tourist-frequented locations.
The Guam Department of Education 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 6,000 miles (9,700 km) 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 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 (UOG) and Guam Community College, both fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 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.
The Government of Guam maintains the island's main health care facility, Guam Memorial Hospital, in Tamuning. 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 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.
- 51st State
- 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
- "Australia-Oceania :: Guam (Territory of the US)". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
- "Guam". Archived from the original on September 12, 2017. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
- "U.S. Territories". DOI Office of Insular Affairs. Archived from the original on February 9, 2007. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
- "Definitions of Insular Area Political Organizations". U.S. Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2007. Office of Insular Affairs. Retrieved October 31, 2008.
- War Restitution Act : hearing before the Subcommittee on Insular and International Affairs of the Co...|National Library of Australia Archived April 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Catalogue.nla.gov.au (September 20, 1994). Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- "Statement of David B. Cohen Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs Before the House Committee on Resources Regarding the Report of the Guam War Claims Review Commission|July 21, 2004 Archived January 20, 2013, at the Wayback Machine." Office of Insular Affairs. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Higuchi, Wakako (2001). "The Japanisation Policy for the Chamorros of Guam, 1941–1944" (PDF). The Journal of Pacific History. 36 (1): 19–35. doi:10.1080/00223340120049424. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 20, 2013.
- "Guam police arrest suspect in memorial theft". Marine Corps Times. Associated Press. July 7, 2007. Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- Rogers, Robert F. (1995). Destiny's Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-1678-0.
- Mack, Doug (2017). The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches From the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA. W.W. Norton. p. 114. ISBN 9780393247602.
- Grabowski, John F. (1992). U.S. Territories and Possessions (State Report Series). Chelsea House. p. 39. ISBN 9780791010532.
- "Non-Self-Governing Territories – Official U.N. Website". Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- "Education Resources: Regional Information, Guam| PacIOOS". Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS). Retrieved March 16, 2021.
- "The Most Extreme Points of the United States". WorldAtlas. May 28, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
- "Congressional Record - Proceedings and Debates of the 106th Congress, First Session - House of Representatives (Vol. 145, No. 34)" (PDF). govinfo.gov. March 4, 1999. p. H982. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
- "Geography of Guam". Official site of Guam, April 19, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2014, from "Guam's Geography". Archived from the original on October 27, 1996. Retrieved May 2, 2016..
- McMahon, Mary (January 23, 2021). "How do Scientists Determine the World's Tallest Mountain?". Info Bloom. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
- Fichtl, Marcus (August 31, 2017). "Guam's Mount Lamlam technically world's tallest mountain, though most of it is underwater". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
- "Guam: Small But Important Piece of US Territory in Pacific | Voice of America - English". VOA News. August 9, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
- "Climatological Report". National Weather Service. February 26, 2014. Archived from the original on March 7, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
- Lloyd, Bruce (February 1, 2021). "Guam sets a 71-year record for cold temperature on Saturday". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
- "National Weather Service Dedicated Forecast Office in Typhoon Alley". US NOAA NWS. April 27, 2000. Archived from the original on January 7, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- "Guam Catastrophe Model". Risk Management Solutions. Archived from the original on February 7, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
- "Winds". PacificWorlds.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
- "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on July 8, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
- "Climatological Information for Guam, Pacific Islands, United States". Hong Kong Observatory. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
- "Territory of Guam Fire Assessment January 2004" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 24, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2009., pp. 6–7, guamforestry.org
- National Park Service. "Fire and Guam". United States Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
- Brown, Valerie. "Guam's Marine Preserves". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
- "Sea Life". Guam Visitors Bureau. Archived from the original on May 31, 2020. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- "Management of Contaminated Harbor Sediments in Guam" (PDF). EPA Guam Report. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 8, 2007.
- Packbier, Paul E.R. "Tumon Bay – Engineering a Better Environment". Directions Magazine; June/July 1996. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Holmes III, Rolston (2001). "Environmental Ethics in Micronesia, Past and Present, Part II—Guam Today: Still "on the Edge." Colonial Legacy and American Presence". International Society for Environmental Ethics Newsletter. 12 (3). Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
- Hung, Hsiao-chun; Carson, Mike T.; Bellwood, Peter; Campos, Fredeliza Z.; Piper, Philip J.; Dizon, Eusebio; Bolunia, Mary Jane Louise A.; Oxenham, Marc; Chi, Zhang (2015). "The first settlement of Remote Oceania: the Philippines to the Marianas". Antiquity. 85 (329): 909–926. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00068393.
- Zotomayor, Alexie Villegas (March 12, 2013). "Archaeologists say migration to Marianas longest ocean-crossing in human history". Marianas Variety News and Views: 2. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
- Carano, Paul; Sanchez, Pedro C. (1964). A Complete History of Guam. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company. OCLC 414965.
- Rottman, G. (2004) Guam 1941 & 1944: Loss and Reconquest. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84176-811-3
- Werner Gruhl, Imperial Japan's World War Two, 1931–1945 Archived January 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Transaction Publishers, 2007 ISBN 978-0-7658-0352-8
- Rogers, Robert F. (1995). Destiny's Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
- Curry, Tom (May 28, 2008). "Nominating, but not voting for president: Clinton-Obama struggle spotlights Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico". NBC News. Archived from the original on August 15, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- "Guam - Religious Demography: Affiliation". Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Wuerch & Ballendorf 1994, p. 44. sfn error: no target: CITEREFWuerchBallendorf1994 (help)
- Cunningham & Beaty 2001, p. 5-6. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCunninghamBeaty2001 (help)
- Cunningham & Beaty 2001, p. 5. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCunninghamBeaty2001 (help)
- Safford 1912, p. 11. sfn error: no target: CITEREFSafford1912 (help)
- Safford 1912, pp. 13–14. sfn error: no target: CITEREFSafford1912 (help)
- Robert Balajadia (January 10, 2014). "GUAM'S FAVORITE PRO TEAMS". Guam Sports Network. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
- "GBA: Bombers hold off MVP for season 3 title". Archived from the original on July 17, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
- Tomas, Jojo Santo (April 9, 2020). "Samoa Pacific Games: Guam basketball teams notch wins". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
- FIFA.com. "2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ - Qualifiers - Asia - FIFA.com". FIFA.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
- Lin, Tom C.W., Americans, Almost and Forgotten Archived September 21, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, 107 California Law Review (2019)
- "Guam Visitors Bureau Tourist Statistics". Archived from the original on August 27, 2007. Retrieved August 27, 2007.. visitguam.org
- Jordan, Mary; Sullivan, Kevin (January 2, 1999). "KMART IS AN EASY SELL ON GUAM". Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- "IIIMEF Move". Retrieved February 11, 2021.
- "2004 Guam Yearbook" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2005. Retrieved July 19, 2007.
- "Guam BLS". Retrieved February 11, 2021.
- Kerrigan, Kevin. "Guam Will Be The Pacific Hub for Merged Airlines". Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved August 20, 2016.. Pacific News Center (May 5, 2010). Retrieved October 5, 2010. "Continental Micronesia is Guam's single largest employer. About 1400 jobs here on dependent on the airline."
- "Company Information Archived November 29, 2012, at WebCite." (Archive) United Continental Holdings. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
- Blair, Chad (May 30, 2008). "'Air Mike' a rare bright spot in local aviation". Pacific Business News. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008.
- McAvoy, Audrey (February 25, 2010). "EPA sharply criticizes military's Guam plan". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Parrish, Karen (July 20, 2012). "Carter: Guam Central to Asia-Pacific Strategy." Archived September 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine American Forces Press Service.
- Natividad, Lisalinda (May 30, 2012). "Statement of the Non-Self Governing Territory of Guam to the Pacific Regional Seminar on the implementation of the third decade for the eradication of colonialism: current realities and prospects in Quito, Ecuador" (PDF). United Nations. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
- "Commission on Decolonization 2014". Guampedia. Guampedia. December 3, 2016. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- Raymundo, Shawn (December 8, 2016). "Commission to launch series of decolonization meetings". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- "Secretary-General Urges Concrete Action to Advance Decolonization Agenda as Pacific Regional Seminar Convenes". United Nations. United Nations. May 31, 2016. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
"Let us seize this opportunity to identify concrete actions to advance the decolonization agenda," Mr. Ban said ... according to the United Nations Charter and relevant General Assembly resolutions, a full measure of self-government could be achieved through independence, integration or free association with another State. The choice should be the result of the freely expressed will and desire of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.
- "Secretary-General Urges Concrete Action to Advance Decolonization Agenda as Pacific Regional Seminar Convenes". United Nations. United Nations. May 31, 2016. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- "UNPO Welcomes 5 New Members!". unpo.org. August 3, 2020. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
- "Guam: Territory to be Inducted into UNPO". unpo.org. July 31, 2020. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
- J. N. Deak (August 5, 1996). "PL-NANP-004" (PDF). North American Numbering Plan Administration. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 26, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
- Calabrese, Michael; Daniel Calarco; Colin Richardson (May 24, 2012). "The Most Expensive Internet in America". Slate. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- 19 U.S.C. § 1401(h) Archived July 31, 2018, at the Wayback Machine .
- 19 C.F.R. § 7.2(b) (2018) Archived July 31, 2018, at the Wayback Machine .
- "People of Territory of Guam v. Sugiyama, 846 F. 2d 570 – Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1988 – Google Scholar". Archived from the original on September 21, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- "People of Territory of Guam v. SUGIYAMA, 859 F. 2d 1428 – Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1988 – Google Scholar". Archived from the original on September 21, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- 5 Guam Code Ann. § 73126 (2005) Archived April 12, 2019, at the Wayback Machine .
- "Guam Public Library System – A Report To Our Citizens" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on September 18, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2008.
- "Merrow Report: First to Worst". Archived from the original on August 10, 2007. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
- "State Comparisons". 1996. Archived from the original on July 13, 2007. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
- Grace, Ted; Teresita Salos (1966). "Guam's Education Marches On". Peabody Journal of Education. 44 (1): 37–39. doi:10.1080/01619566609537383.
- "An act to establish a guam parental school choice program". 1999. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
- "Rats, other problems face Guam schools Archived January 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine." Pacific Stars and Stripes. October 3, 1993.
- Guam School to Be Renamed in Honor of NASA Astronaut William McCool|SpaceRef – Your Space Reference. SpaceRef (August 21, 2003). Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- "District and School Contact Information". pac.dodea.edu. Archived from the original on May 9, 2006. Retrieved May 10, 2006.
- "Politics Trumps Performance in Guam School System". Pacific Islands Report. June 15, 2006. Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2007.
- Welcome to the official Guam Memorial Hospital Authority Website! – Tonyt Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Gmha.org. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- U.S Naval Hospital Guam Archived June 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. United States Navy
- "Guam's CareJet Program Resumes Service". Air Medical Net. September 10, 2012. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- Sablan, Jerick (January 4, 2016). "No. 5: Guam Regional Medical City opens". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- 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
- Official website
- Guampedia, Guam's Online Encyclopedia
- "Guam Society of America", fosters the CHamoru language, culture, & traditions
- The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands, PBS documentary film website.
- Guam. The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
- U.S. Census Bureau: Island Areas Census 2000
- Geology and Hydrology of Guam
- Guam at Curlie
- Portals to the World: Guam from the U.S. Library of Congress.
- Wikimedia Atlas of Guam
- Geographic data related to Guam at OpenStreetMap