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This article is about the Island of Guam and the United States territory of Guam. For the Mariana Archipelago, see Mariana Islandsmarker. For the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, see Northern Mariana Islandsmarker.

For GUAM, an eastern European international organization, see GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development.

Guam ( ; Chamorro: ) is an island in the western Pacific Oceanmarker and is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United Statesmarker. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. The island's capital is Hagåtñamarker (formerly Agana). Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islandsmarker.

The Chamorros, Guam's indigenous people, first populated the island approximately 4,000 years ago. The island has a long history of European colonialism beginning on March 6, 1521 with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan and again in 1668, when the first Spanish colony was established following the arrival of settlers including Padre San Vitores, a Catholic missionary. The island was controlled by Spain until 1898, when it was surrendered to the United States as part of the Treaty of Paris following Spanish-American War.

As the largest island in Micronesia and the only American-held island in the region before World War II, Guam was captured by the Japanesemarker on December 8, 1941, hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbormarker, and was occupied for two and a half years.

During the occupation, the people of Guam suffered terrible atrocities, including torture, beheadings, and rape, and were forced to adopt the Japanese culture. The Japanese Occupant also imposed a new name to the island’s name to Ō-miya Jima or Great Shrine Island for that same purpose. Guam was subject to fierce fighting when American troops recaptured the island on July 21, 1944, a date commemorated every year as Liberation Day, in a celebration that lasts all month . Today, Guam's economy is supported by its principal industry, tourism, which is primarily composed of visitors from Japan. Guam’s second-largest source of income is the United States military.


It is believed that Guam was first discovered by people from southeastern Indonesiamarker around 2000 BCE. Most of what is known about Pre-Contact ("Ancient") Chamorros comes from legends and myths, archaeological evidence, Jesuit missionary accounts, and observations from visiting scientists like Otto von Kotzebue and Louis de Freycinet.

When Europeans first arrived on Guam, Chamorro society had three classes: matua (upper class), achaot (middle class), and mana'chang (lower class). 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 interior of the island. Matua and mana'chang rarely communicated with each other, and matua often used achaot as an intermediary. There were also "makåhna" (similar to shamans), skilled in healing and medicine. Belief in spirits of ancient Chamorros called Taotao mo'na still persists as a remnant of pre-European society. When Magellan arrived on Guam, he was greeted by hundreds of small outrigger canoes that appeared to be flying over the water, due to their considerable speed. These outrigger canoes were called Proas, and resulted in Magellan naming Guam Islas de las Velas Latinas (Islands of the Lateen Sail ).

Guam — the only Spanish outpost in the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippinesmarker, became the regular port between Acapulco Mexicomarker and Manilamarker from 1565 to 1815, and (since Philippine independence) the most western outpost of actual United Statesmarker territory in the Pacific — is the biggest single segment of Micronesia, the largest islands between the islands of Kyushu (Japan), New Guinea, and the Philippines, and the Hawaiian Islands.

Latte Stones are stone pillars that are only found in the Mariana Islands and are a recent development in Pre-Contact Chamorro society. The latte stone was used as a foundation on which thatched huts were built. Latte 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. Using carbon-dating, archaeologists have broken Pre-Contact Guam (i.e. Chamorro) history into three periods: "Pre-Latte" (BCE 2000? to A.D. 1) "Transitional Pre-Latte" (CE. 1 to CE 1000), and "Latte" (CE. 1000 to CE 1521). Archaeological evidence also suggests that Chamorro society was on the verge of another transition phase by 1521, as latte stones became bigger. Assuming the larger latte stones were used for chiefly houses, it can be argued that Chamorro society was becoming more stratified, either from population growth or the arrival of new people. The theory remains tenuous, however, due to lack of evidence, but if proven correct, will further support the idea that Pre-Contact Chamorros lived in a vibrant and dynamic environment.

Spanish Colonization and the Manila Galleons

Portuguesemarker navigator Ferdinand Magellan, sailing for the King of Spain, reached the island in 1521 during his fleet's 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 part of the Spanish East Indies governed from the Philippinesmarker, which were in turn part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain based in Mexico Citymarker. Between 1668 and 1815, Guam was an important resting stop for the Spanish Manila galleons, a fleet that covered the Pacific trade route between Acapulcomarker (Mexicomarker) and Manilamarker (Philippines). Guam, along with the rest of the Mariana and Caroline Islandsmarker, were treated as part of Spain's 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 during their 333 years of rule.

The Spanish-American War and World War II

The United States took control of the island in the 1898 Spanish-American War, as part of the Treaty of Paris. Guam came to serve as a station for American ships traveling to and from the Philippines, while the Northern Mariana Islands passed to Germany, and then Japan.
The Japanese Empire-1942
During World War II, Guam was attacked, and invaded, by the armed forces of Japan on December 8, 1941. Anticipating the attack, the Navy had all military dependents transported away from the island, but did not inform the native Chamorros of the possible bombardment. 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 resentment between the Guamanian Chamorros and the Chamorros of the Northern Marianas. Guam's Chamorros believed their northern brethren should have been compassionate towards them, whereas having been occupied for over 30 years, the Northern Mariana Chamorros were loyal to Japan.

Guam's Japanese 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 forced prostitution. Approximately one 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. More than 18,000 Japanese were killed as only 485 surrendered. Corporal Shoichi Yokoi, who surrendered in January 1972, appears to have been the last confirmed Japanese holdout in Guam. To this day, Guam remains the only U.S. soil with a sizable population to have been occupied by a foreign military power, since the War of 1812. The United States also captured and occupied the Northern Marianas. After the war, 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. However, to this day, though they are U.S. citizens, the people of Guam are not allowed to vote for president and their Congressional Representative is a non-voting member. This has caused contention amongst many Guamanians, who feel they are treated like third class citizens of the United States.


Map of Guam
Beach scenery in Guam.
Guam lies between 13.2°N and 13.7°N and between 144.6°E and 145.0°E, and has an area of , making it the 32nd largest island of the United States. It is the southernmost and largest island in the Marianamarker island chain and is also the largest island in Micronesia. This island chain was created by the colliding Pacific and Philippine Sea tectonic plates. Guam is the closest land mass to the Mariana Trenchmarker, a deep subduction zone, that lies beside the island chain to the east. Challenger Deepmarker, the deepest surveyed point in the Oceans, is southwest of Guam at deep. The highest point in Guam is Mount Lamlammarker, which is 1,332 feet (406 m), and surprisingly, is also considered the tallest mountain in the world from below sea level, since it extends in to the Mariana Trenchmarker.

The island of Guam is long and to wide. The island experiences occasional earthquakes due to its location on the western edge of the Pacific Plate and near the Philippine Sea Platemarker. In recent years, earthquakes with epicenters near Guam have had magnitudes ranging from 5.0 to 8.7. Unlike the Anatahanmarker volcano in the Northern Mariana Islandsmarker, Guam is not volcanically active. However, due to its proximity to Anatahan, vog does occasionally affect Guam.

The northern part of the island is a forested coralline limestone plateau while the south contains volcanic peaks covered in forest and grassland. A coral reef surrounds most of the island, except in areas where bays exist that provide access to small rivers and streams that run down from the hills into the Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea. The island's population is most dense in the northern and central regions.


The climate is characterized as tropical marine. The weather is generally hot and very humid with little seasonal temperature variation. The mean high temperature is 86 °F (30 °C) and mean low is 76 °F (24 °C) with an average annual rainfall of 96 inches (2,180 mm). The dry season runs from December through June. The remaining months constitute the rainy season. The months of January and February are considered the coolest months of the year with night time temperatures in the mid to low 70's and generally lower humidity levels. The highest risk of typhoons is during October and November. They can occur, however, year-round.

Guam is located in what has been nicknamed "Typhoon Alley" and it is common for the island to be threatened by tropical storms and possible typhoons during the wet season. The most intense typhoon to pass over Guam recently was Super Typhoon Pongsona, with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, which slammed Guam on December 8, 2002, leaving massive destruction.

Since Super 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.


According to the U.S. census conducted in 2000, the population of Guam was 154,805. The 2008 population estimate for Guam is 178,000. As of 2005, the annual population growth is 1.76%. The largest ethnic group are the native Chamorros, accounting for 37.1% of the total population. Other significant ethnic groups include those of Filipinomarker (25.5%), White (10%) indicates of both European often of Spanish and white American ancestry, and the rest are of Chinese, Japanese and Korean ancestry. Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion, with 85% of the population claiming an affiliation with it.

The programmed U.S. military buildup (2010-2014) will cause an unprecedented population increase (approximately 40% or nearly 80,000 people at the peak of constructions) which will significantly impact Guam's very limited and aging infrastructure. This expected population increase would otherwise occur over a 20 year period. The official languages of the island are English and Chamorro.


Traditional Chamorro culture is visually manifested in dance, sea navigation, unique cuisine, fishing, games (such as batu, chonka, estuleks, and bayogu), songs and fashion influenced by the immigration of peoples from other lands. Spanish policy during colonial rule (1668-1898) was one of conquest and conversion to Roman Catholicism. This led to the gradual elimination of Guam's male warriors and displacement of the Chamorro people from their lands. Today, many Chamorros have Spanish surnames because of their conversion to Roman Catholic Christianity through Catálogo alfabético de apellidos.

Due to cultural influence from outside forces, important aspects of the original Chamorro culture have been lost over the years. There has been a resurgence in protecting and preserving the culture the last few decades, and many scholars have traveled throughout the Pacific Islands conducting research to determine what Chamorro cultural practices such as dance, language, and canoe building may have been like.

Two aspects of Chamorro culture that withstood time are chenchule' and inafa'maolek. Chenchule' is the intricate system of reciprocity at the heart of Chamorro society. It is rooted in the core value of inafa’maolek. Historian Lawrence Cunningham in 1992 wrote, "In a Chamorro sense, the land and its produce belong to everyone. , or interdependence, is the key, or central value, in Chamorro culture … depends on a spirit of cooperation and sharing. This is the armature, or core, that everything in Chamorro culture revolves around. It is a powerful concern for mutuality rather than individualism and private property rights."

The core culture or Pengngan Chamorro is based on complex social protocol centered upon respect: From sniffing over the hands of the elders (called mangnginge in Chamorro), the passing down of legends, chants, and courtship rituals, to a person asking for permission from spiritual ancestors before entering a jungle or ancient battle grounds. Other practices predating Spanish conquest include galaide' canoe-making, making of the belembaotuyan (a string musical instrument made from a gourd), fashioning of slings and slingstones, tool manufacture, burial rituals, and preparation of herbal medicines by Suruhanu.

Master craftsmen and women specialize in weavings, including plaited work (niyok- and åkgak-leaf baskets, mats, bags, hats, and food containments), loom-woven material (kalachucha-hibiscus and banana fiber skirts, belts and burial shrouds), and body ornamentation (bead and shell necklaces, bracelets, earrings, belts and combs made from tortoise shells) and Spondylus.

The cosmopolitan nature of modern Guam poses challenges for Chamorros struggling to preserve their culture and identity amidst forces of acculturation. The increasing numbers of Chamorros, especially Chamorro youth, relocating to the U.S. Mainland has further complicated both definition and preservation of Chamorro identity. While only a few masters exist to continue traditional art forms, the resurgence of interest among the Chamorros to preserve the language and culture has resulted in a growing number of young Chamorros who seek to continue the ancient ways of the Chamorro people.

Government and politics

Guam is governed by a popularly elected governor and a unicameral 15-member legislature, whose members are known as senators. Guam elects one non-voting delegate, currently Madeleine Z. Bordallo, to the United States House of Representatives. U.S. citizens in Guam vote in a 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, though these convention delegates are elected by local party conventions rather than voters in primaries.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, there was a significant movement in favor of the territory becoming a commonwealth, which would give it a level of self-government similar to Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islandsmarker. However, the federal government rejected the version of a commonwealth that the government of Guam proposed, due to it having clauses incompatible with the Territorial Clause (Art. IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2) of the U.S. Constitution. Contrasting movements are also in existence that advocate political independence from the United States, statehood, union with the Northern Mariana Islandsmarker as a single territory, or union with the current U.S. state of Hawaiimarker.

Guam's citizens continue to have a real desire to be brought more fully into the American political system. Two political aspects that have not been realized include the inability of Guam's non-voting delegate to have a vote on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Islanders also desire to have a vote for the President of the United States. Both of these political rights are still not available to those who are citizens of Guam.

Villages and military bases

Guam is divided into 19 municipalities commonly called villages: Agana Heights, Agatmarker, Asan‑Mainamarker, Barrigadamarker, Chalan‑Pago‑Ordot, Dededomarker, Hagåtñamarker, Inarajanmarker, Mangilaomarker, Merizomarker, Mongmong‑Toto‑Maite, Pitimarker, Santa Ritamarker, Sinajanamarker, Talofofomarker, Tamuningmarker, Umatacmarker, Yigomarker, Yonamarker.

The U.S. military maintains jurisdiction over its bases, which cover approximately , or 29% of the island's total land area:

In addition to on-shore military installations, Guam, along with the rest of the Marianas Islands, is being prepared to be the Western most military training range for the U.S. Additional training will take place in conjunction with the proposed military build-up and separate from the military build-up. Guam is currently viewed as a key military hub that will further allow U.S. military power to be projected via air, land, sea and undersea.

With the proposed increased military presence stemming from the upcoming preparation efforts and relocation efforts of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam slated to begin in 2010 and last for the next several years thereafter, the amounts of total land that the military will control or tenant may grow to or surpass 40% of the entire landmass of Guam.

Villagers and the military community are inter-connected in many ways. Many villagers serve in the military or are retired. Many active duty personnel and Defense Department civlians also live in the villages outside of the military installation areas. The military and village communities have "adoption" programs where Guam's population and military personnel stationed in Guam perform community service projects.


Guam's economy depends primarily on tourism, Department of Defense installations, and locally owned businesses. Although Guam receives no foreign aid, it does receive large transfer payments from the general revenues of the U.S. federal treasurymarker into which Guam pays no income or excise taxes; under the provisions of a special law of Congress, the Guam treasury, rather than the U.S. treasury, receives federal income taxes paid by local taxpayers to include military and civilian federal employees assigned to Guam.

Image:2009_GU_Proof.png|2009 Guam Quarter

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 Vegasmarker–styled shows and other shopping and entertainment venues. It is a relatively short flight from Asia or Australia compared to Hawaiimarker, with hotels and seven public golf courses accommodating over a million tourists per year. Although 75 percent of the tourists are Japanese, Guam receives a sizable number of tourists from South Korea, the U.S., the Philippines, and Taiwanmarker. 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, but took a recent downturn along with most of Asia. It is expected to stabilize well ahead of the projected transfer of U.S. Marine Corps' 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, currently in Okinawamarker (approximately 8,000 Marines, along with their 10,000 dependents), to Guam between 2010–2015 but will cause an unprecedented 10% increase in the island's overall population. In 2003, Guam had a 14% unemployment rate, and the government suffered a $314 million shortfall.

The Compacts of Free Association between the United States, the Federated States of Micronesiamarker, the Republic of the Marshall Islandsmarker and the Republic of Palaumarker 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 Islandsmarker and Hawaiimarker, 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.

Transportation and communications

Most of the island has state-of-the-art mobile phone services, whereas digital cable and high-speed internet are now widely available through either cable or DSL. Guam was added to the North American Numbering Plan in 1997 (country code 671 became NANP area code 671marker), removing the barrier of high cost international long-distance calls to the U.S. Mainland.

Flown cover carried both directions on the first commercial flights between Guam and the United States.
October 5-24, 1935
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 ("state" code: 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 UPS, DHL or FedEx, however, have no obligation to 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 Commercial Port of Guam is the island's lifeline because most products must be shipped into Guam for consumers. 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 US Department of Defense installations, Andersen Air Force Base and Commander, Naval Forces Marianas and eventually the Third Marine Expeditionary Force.

Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency
is served by the Antonio B.marker Won Pat International Airportmarker, which is a regional hub for Continental Micronesia. 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 immigration (but not customs) functions. Since Guam is under federal immigration jurisdiction, passengers arriving directly from the States skip immigration and directly proceed 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 to and from the Northern Mariana Islands (which have separate immigration regulations), a full inspection is performed though American citizens do not need a passport. Traveling between Guam and the States through a foreign point (for example, a Japanese airport), however, does requires a passport.

Most residents travel within Guam using personally-owned vehicles. The local government currently outsources the only public bus system (Guam Mass Transit Authority), and some commercial companies operate buses between tourist-frequented locations.

Ecological issues

Guam exemplifies the effects of bioinvasion.

The brown tree snake

Thought to be a stowaway on a U.S. military transport near the end of World War II, the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) came to Guam and nearly decimated the island's native bird population that previously had no native species of snake; this snake has no natural predators on the island. While slightly venomous, the brown tree snake is relatively harmless to human beings. Although some studies have suggested a high density of brown tree snakes on Guam, residents rarely see these nocturnal snakes. The United States Department of Agriculture has trained detector dogs to keep brown treesnakes out of the island's cargo flow. As well, the United States Geological Survey is developing dogs that are capable of detecting snakes in forested environments around the region's islands.

The consequence of the introduction of the brown tree snake has been significant over the past several decades. The decimation of local bird populations has been attributed to the introduction and presence of the brown tree snake, who view birds as food. The koko bird population, which according to many elders used to be common in Guam prior to World War II, are no longer around. This, in large part, has been due to the brown tree snakes eating the birds.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

An infestation of the coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB), Oryctes rhinoceros, was detected on Guam on September 12, 2007. CRB is not known to occur in the United States except in American Samoamarker. Delimiting surveys performed September 13-25, 2007 indicated that the infestation was limited to Tumon Bay and Faifai Beach, an area of approximately . Guam Department of Agriculture (GDA) placed quarantine on all properties within the Tumon area on October 5 and later expanded the quarantine to about on October 25; approximately radius in all directions from all known locations of CRB infestation. CRB is native to Southern Asia and distributed throughout Asia and the Western Pacific including Sri Lanka, Upolu, Western Samoa, American Samoa, Palau Islands, New Britain, West Irian, New Ireland, Pak Island and Manus Island (New Guinea), Fiji, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Mauritius, and Reunion.

Adults are the injurious stage of the insect. They are generally night-time fliers and when they alight on a host, they chew down into the folded, emerging fronds of coconut palms to feed on sap. V-shaped cuts in the fronds and holes through the midrib are visible when the leaves grow out and unfold. If the growing tip is injured, the palm may be killed or severe loss of leaf tissue may cause decreased nut set. Feeding wounds may also serve as an infection pathway for pathogens or other pests. The effects ofadult boring may be more severe on younger palms where spears are narrower. Mortality of young palms has already been observed on Guam. Oviposition and larval development typically occurs in decaying coconut logs or stumps.

Control measures have been developed for CRB and the current strategy on Guam is to implement an integrated eradication program using pheromone-baited, attractive traps to capture adults, various methods to eliminate infested and susceptible host material, and pesticides to kill larvae and adults. Pesticides may also be applied to uninfested trees as a preventive treatment. USDA-APHIS has completed an Environmental Assessment for the coconut rhinoceros beetle eradication program on Guam (EA Number: GU-08-1, The eradication program is a cooperative effort between USDA (APHIS and Forest Service), GDA and the University of Guam (UOG). This document follows the Forest Service Pest Risk Assessment (Kliejunas et al. 2001)format and is intended to provide information regarding the current status of CRB on Guam, its potential to spread to uninfested locales, and the consequences of establishment. The high, moderate or low riskvalues are based on available biological information and the subjective judgment of the authors.

A joint initiative between Guam Customs & Quarantine (trains detector dogs and their handlers), Guam Department of Agriculture (employs CRB detector dog handlers), University of Guam College of Agriculture (provides CRB Detector Dog program funding) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Station (federal agency providing strategic direction and regulatory guidance) to form the nation's first Bio-Security Task Force which features the first CRB trained detector dogs. This program will provide enhanced capability and capacity for the invasive species interdiction and eradication program in order to mitigate these species on Guam and prevent it from spreading to other jurisdictions in the United States.

Other invasive animal species

From the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, the Spanish introduced pigs, dogs, chickens, the Philippine deer (Cervus mariannus), black francolins, and water buffalo. Water buffalo, known as carabao locally, have cultural significance. Herds of these animals obstruct military base operations and harm native ecosystems. After birth control and adoption efforts were ineffective, the U.S. military began euthanizing the herds in 2002 leading to organized protests from island residents.

Other introduced species include cane toads imported in 1937, the giant African snail (an agricultural pest introduced during WWII by Japanese occupation troops) and more recently frog species which could threaten crops in addition to providing additional food for the brown tree snake population. Reports of loud chirping frogs native to the Caribbeanmarker and known as coquí, that may have arrived from Hawaii, have led to fears that the noise could threaten Guam's tourism.

Introduced feral pigs and deer, over-hunting, and habitat loss from human development are also major factors in the decline and loss of Guam's native plants and animals.

Threats to indigenous plants

Invading animal species are not the only threat to Guam's native flora. Tinangaja, a virus affecting coconut palms, was first observed on the island in 1917 when copra production was still a major part of Guam's economy. Though coconut plantations no longer exist on the island, the dead and infected trees that have resulted from the epidemic are seen throughout the forests of Guam. Also during the past century, the dense forests of northern Guam have been largely replaced by thick tangan tangan brush (Leucaena-native to the Americas). Much of Guam's foliage was lost during World War II. In 1947, the U.S. military introduced tangan tangan by seeding the island from the air to prevent erosion. In southern Guam, non-native grass species also dominate much of the landscape.


Guam's grassland.
Wildfires plague the forested ("boonie" or "jungle") areas of Guam every dry season despite the island's humid climate. Most fires are man-caused with 80 percent 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 Lakemarker 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 to plant trees have had little success in preserving natural habitats.

Aquatic preserves

As a vacation spot for scuba divers, efforts have been made to protect Guam's coral reef habitats from pollution, eroded silt, and overfishing that have led to decreased fish populations. 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. Prior to adopting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ standards, portions of Tumon Bay were dredged by the hotel chains in order 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.
Guam Green Sea Turtle
Harvest of sea turtle eggs was a common occurrence on Guam prior to World War II. The Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) was harvested legally on Guam prior to 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 protection of sea turtles on Guam, routine sightings are counted during aerial surveys and nest sites are recorded and monitored for hatchlings.

Traditional harvests of sea turtles were primarily for local consumption at fiestas, weddings, funerals, and christenings. In recent times, poaching of sea turtles have been known to occur on Guam, due to the traditional demand for its meat. However, capture of the responsible parties has been difficult, although arrests have been made in the past for unauthorized take. Effective conservation and enforcement will be critical to the recovery efforts of this project.

DAWR will continue to give sea turtle presentations for community awareness, especially through the elementary-secondary school system and University of Guam. In addition, the recommendation to produce and distribute sea turtle posters and pamphlets would help to enhance conservation and recovery awareness within the local community.

Guam’s Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR) Sea Turtle Recovery Program (STRP) is funded in part by the NMFS Honolulu, PIAO to determine the extent of Guam’s resident/nesting sea turtle populations and nesting habitats by conducting beach surveys and satellite tracking. ComNavMarianas has funded part of the satellite telemetry portion of the project through the purchase of satellite tags and satellite time. The objectives of the project are:

  1. To collect baseline population size-structure (age and size) and genetic information for sea turtles in and about Guam.
  2. To survey Guam’s beaches for sea turtle nesting activity for both green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) throughout the nesting period in order to determine the size of the nesting population of sea turtles on Guam and to employ a variety of tagging techniques to determine movement, residency and further define population dynamics.
  3. To establish a Guam based sea turtle-working group consisting of natural resource stakeholders and involve them in the refinement of the implementation plan.

The acquisition of satellite tagging materials and training was completed in March and April 2000. On June 28, 2000, an approximately 250-300 pound Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) was Argos™ satellite-tagged and tracked after making a false crawl (i.e., one in which no nest was made) on Explosive Ordnance Disposal Beach, Andersen Air Force Base. A poaching arrest was also made on the following morning concerning a 22 lb. C. mydas that was illegally speared in the Tumon Bay Marine Preserve Area.

Image:Whitespotted boxfish Ostracion meleagris photo Randall J E.jpg|Whitespotted boxfish (Ostracion meleagris)Image:Royal angelfish Pygoplites diacanthus photo Patzner R.jpg|Royal angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus)
Reef fish of Guam


Colleges and universities

The University of Guammarker and Guam Community College, both fully-accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, offer courses in higher education. Pacific Islands University is a small Christian liberal arts institution nationally accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. They offer courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Primary and secondary schools

The Guam Public School System serves the entire island of Guam. In 2000, 32,000 students attended Guam's public 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.

Prior to September 1997, the U.S.marker Department of Defensemarker 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.

Public libraries

Guam Public Library System operates the Nieves M. Flores Memorial Library in Hagåtñamarker and five branch libraries.

Health care

The Government of Guam maintains Guam Memorial Hospital in Tamuningmarker. In addition the U.S. Naval Hospital is located in Agana Heights.

See also

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) came to an agreement with Guam officials in August 2009 to create a hospital with a scheduled open date in 2012. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)


  1. " U.S. Territories." DOI Office of Insular Affairs. February 9, 2007.
  2. " DEFINITIONS OF INSULAR AREA POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS." Office of Insular Affairs. Accessed October 31, 2008.
  5. Kristof, Nicholas D. "Shoichi Yokoi, 82, Is Dead; Japan Soldier Hid 27 Years," New York Times. September 26, 1997.
  6. "Geography of Guam," Official site of Guam, November 8, 2007Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  7. "Home page of the Anahatan volcano," USGS-CNMI, November 8, 2007Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  8. "Guam," CIA World Factbook, April 17, 2007, Retrieved April 19, 2007.
  9. . "Guam Summary File," American FactFinder, Census 2000 Guam, Retrieved April 19, 2007.
  10. EIS: 79,178 new people on island by 2014, Pacific Daily News, 2009-11-21
  11. Guam Visitors Bureau Tourist Statistics
  12. Territory of Guam Fire Assessment January 2004, Pgs. 6-7
  13. Welcome to the Guam Public School System!
  14. " Rats, other problems face Guam schools." Pacific Stars and Stripes. October 3, 1993.

External links

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