Guam Facts

Guam Facts and History


Guam – American island in the South Pacific

The island of Guam is located in the northwestern Pacific, east of the Philippines and west of Hawaii around 10,000 km from the west coast of the USA.

Guam is the largest and most populous island in Micronesia, which also includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the US Territories, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

It is part of the latter group of islands. Guam means “we have”.

The island – the largest and most southerly of the Mariana Islands – was discovered by the navigator Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and was under the control of Spain for more than 300 years. Only after the Spanish-American War of 1898 did it belong to the USA as an “outer area”.

Between 1941 and the summer of 1944, Guam was occupied by the Japanese.

With around 6,000 soldiers, the island is still one of the most strategically important military bases – especially for the air force – in the US in the Pacific. The Americans have declared the island a free trade zone, which means that you can buy many goods on Guam duty-free.

This is particularly used by tourists from Japan, who make up about 80% of the visitors to the island.

Guam residents are US citizens, but they do not have the right to vote in the election of the US president.

There is an American governor on the island and an island congressman in Washington.

Those who are looking for originality have to look very intensively for the few remaining untouched places on Guam – after it was taken over by the US military.

Name of the country Guam
Form of government United States non-incorporated territory
Location Southernmost island in the Mariana Islands, in the west of the Pacific Ocean
National anthem The American national anthem as well as the Guam anthem “Stand Ye Guamanians”
Population approx. 160,000 (Credit: Countryaah: Guam Facts)
Ethnicities 37% Chamorro28% Filipinos

27% Asians

10% Whites

Religions 85% Catholics and 15% others
Languages English, Chammoral and Japanese
Capital Hagatna (Hagåtña) with about 1,500 residents
Surface 549 km²
Highest mountain Mount Lamlam, with a height of 406 m
Longest river The Talofo
Largest lake in area Fena Lake
International license plate GUM
Currency US dollars = 100 cents
Time difference to CET + 9 h
International phone code + 00 1671
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .gu

Guam History

It is believed that Guam was founded around 1,500 BC. Together with the Mariannen Islands, to which Guam is counted, was settled by the ethnic group of the Chomorro from Indonesia.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, society was structured matrilinearly, that is, along the lines of the mother. This gave women a special position.

This ethnic group was the only one in Micronesia to grow rice.


On March 6, 1521, the Portuguese explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) reached Guam while crossing the Pacific. He probably anchored in what is now Umatac Bay. Magellan called the Marianne Islands “Islas de los Ladrones” (Islands of Thieves) after the fleet landed on Guam and the natives tried to steal one of the dinghies.

Magellan therefore had some of the natives executed and many houses burned down. For the Spaniards, Guam was an important stopover on the trade route from Acapulco in Mexico to Manila in the Philippines.

According to the latest research by Scott Fitzpatrick at North Carolina State University in the USA, Magellan originally wanted to reach the Moluccas, but was forced to correct course as a result of the El Nino climatic phenomenon, which then led him to Guam, around 2,500 km northeast of it.

The Jesuit pastor Diego Luis de Sanvitores then founded a missionary station in today’s capital Haganta in 1668, i.e. 150 years later. The Spaniards relocated entire islands of the northern Marians to simplify missionary work. This is how the village of Merizo in the south of the island of Guam came into being. Not least for this reason, the affected islands of the Marianni are partly uninhabited to this day.

However, the residents resisted the missionaries’ attempts until 1890. At that time, the population was also considerably decimated due to imported diseases.

After the Spanish – American War, which lasted from April 23, 1898 to August 12, 1898, the island of Guam was transferred to the USA in the Treaty of Paris on December 10 of the same year. It should be added that as a result of this war, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were taken over by the USA.

In 1941 the Japanese attacked and occupied the island in the course of World War II – in 1944 the USA had recaptured the island and established a permanent military base there, on which the strategic B-52 bombers were stationed and still are today.

The base was of great strategic importance, especially in the Korean and Vietnam wars. But also during the Iraq wars, B-52 bombers took off from here.

In August 2017, North Korea threatened to bombard Guam with rockets, which were supposed to fall into the sea off the island.

Guam Facts