Guam: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Pacific Island Nation


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Guam

Introduction Guam was ceded to the US by Spain in 1898. Captured by the Japanese in 1941, it was retaken by the US three years later. The military installation on the island is one of the most strategically important US bases in the Pacific.
History Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, sailing for the King of Spain, reached the island in 1521 during his circumnavigation of the globe. General Miguel López de Legazpi claimed Guam for Spain in 1565. Spanish colonization commenced in 1668 with the arrival of Padre San Vitores, who established the first Catholic mission. The islands were then governed as part of the Spanish East Indies from the Philippines. Between 1668 and 1815, Guam was an important resting stop on the Spanish trade route between Mexico and the Philippines. Guam, along with the rest of the Mariana and Caroline Islands, was treated by Spain as part of their colony in the Philippines. While Guam’s Chamorro culture is unique, the cultures of both Guam and the Northern Marianas were heavily influenced by Spanish culture and traditions.[2]

The United States took control of the island in the 1898 Spanish-American War. Guam came to serve as a station for American ships traveling to and from the Philippines, while the northern Mariana islands passed to Germany then Japan.[2] During World War II, Guam was attacked, and invaded, by the armed forces of Japan on December 8, 1941. Before the attack, most of the United States citizens were transported from the island and away from imminent danger. The Northern Mariana Islands had become a Japanese protectorate before the war. It was the Chamorros from the Northern Marianas who were brought to Guam to serve as interpreters and in other capacities for the occupying Japanese force. The Guamanian Chamorros were treated as an occupied enemy by the Japanese military. After the war, this would cause some resentment by the Guamanian Chamorros towards the Chamorros in the Northern Marianas. Guam’s occupation lasted for approximately thirty-one months. During this period, the indigenous people of Guam were subjected to forced labor, family separation, incarceration, execution, concentration camps and prostitution. Approximately a thousand people died during the occupation according to Congressional Testimony in 2004. The United States returned and fought the Battle of Guam on July 21, 1944, to recapture the island from Japanese military occupation. To this day, Guam remains the only U.S. soil, with a sizable population (in the thousands), to have ever been occupied by a foreign military power – the Japanese Imperial Army. The U.S. also captured and occupied the Northern Marianas. After the war, the Guam Organic Act of 1950, which 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 United States citizenship.

Geography Location: Oceania, island in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 144 47 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 541.3 sq km
land: 541.3 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: three times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 125.5 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; generally warm and humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season (January to June), rainy season (July to December); little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic origin, surrounded by coral reefs; relatively flat coralline limestone plateau (source of most fresh water), with steep coastal cliffs and narrow coastal plains in north, low hills in center, mountains in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Lamlam 406 m
Natural resources: fishing (largely undeveloped), tourism (especially from Japan)
Land use: arable land: 3.64%
permanent crops: 18.18%
other: 78.18% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: frequent squalls during rainy season; relatively rare, but potentially very destructive typhoons (June – December)
Environment – current issues: extirpation of native bird population by the rapid proliferation of the brown tree snake, an exotic, invasive species
Geography – note: largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago; strategic location in western North Pacific Ocean
People Population: 173,456 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.6% (male 25,686/female 23,938)
15-64 years: 64.5% (male 57,023/female 54,872)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 5,592/female 6,345) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 28.8 years
male: 28.5 years
female: 29 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.4% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 18.56 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.56 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.073 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.881 male(s)/female
total population: 1.037 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.76 years
male: 75.69 years
female: 82.01 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman

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