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 sizeable 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
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. 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.[2]

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 Islands. However, the federal government rejected the commonwealth version that the government of Guam proposed, due to it having clauses incompatible with the Territorial Clause (Art. IV, Sec. 3, cl. 2) of the United States Constitution. Competing movements with less significant influence exist, which advocate political independence from the United States, statehood, union with the Northern Mariana Islands as a single territory, or union with the current U.S. state of Hawaii.

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 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Guamanian(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Guamanian
Ethnic groups: Chamorro 37.1%, Filipino 26.3%, other Pacific islander 11.3%, white 6.9%, other Asian 6.3%, other ethnic origin or race 2.3%, mixed 9.8% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, other 15% (1999 est.)
Languages: English 38.3%, Chamorro 22.2%, Philippine languages 22.2%, other Pacific island languages 6.8%, Asian languages 7%, other languages 3.5% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1990 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Territory of Guam
conventional short form: Guam
local long form: Guahan
local short form: Guahan
Dependency status: organized, unincorporated territory of the US with policy relations between Guam and the US under the jurisdiction of the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Hagatna (Agana)
geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 144 44 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (territory of the US)
Independence: none (territory of the US)
National holiday: Discovery Day, first Monday in March (1521)
Constitution: Organic Act of Guam, 1 August 1950
Legal system: modeled on US; US federal laws apply
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal; US citizens, but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch: chief of state: President George W. BUSH of the US (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001)
head of government: Governor Felix P. CAMACHO (since 6 January 2003); Lieutenant Governor Dr. Michael W. CRUZ (since 1 January 2007)
cabinet: heads of executive departments; appointed by the governor with the consent of the Guam legislature
elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Guam, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year term (can serve two consecutive terms, then must wait a full term before running again); election last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held in November 2010)
election results: Felix P. CAMACHO reelected governor; Dr. Michael W. CRUZ elected lieutenant governor; percent of vote - NA
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislature (15 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held in November 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 8, Democratic Party 7
note: Guam elects one nonvoting delegate to the US House of Representatives; election last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held in November 2008); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 1
Judicial branch: Federal District Court (judge is appointed by the president); Territorial Superior Court (judges appointed for eight-year terms by the governor)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party [leader Michael PHILLIPS]; Republican Party [Philip J. FLORES] (controls the legislature)
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: IOC, SPC, UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of the US)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (territory of the US)
Flag description: territorial flag is dark blue with a narrow red border on all four sides; centered is a red-bordered, pointed, vertical ellipse containing a beach scene, outrigger canoe with sail, and a palm tree with the word GUAM superimposed in bold red letters; US flag is the national flag
Ecological issues

The brown tree snake

Thought to be a stowaway on a U.S. military transport near the end of World War II, the slightly venomous—but rather harmless—brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) came to Guam and killed virtually all of the native bird population on an island that has no native species of snake; this snake has no natural predators on the island. Although some studies have suggested a high density of the brown tree snake, residents rarely see these nocturnal snakes. Prodigious climbers, the snakes cause frequent blackouts by shorting across lines and transformers.

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 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, known as coquí, that may have arrived from Hawaii have led to fears that the noise could even threaten Guam's tourism.[13]

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.[14] 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.

Wildfires

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.[15] 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 to plant trees have had little success in preserving natural habitats.[16]

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.[17] Prior to adopting USEPA standards, portions of Tumon bay were dredged by the hotel chains in order to provide a better experience for hotel guests.[18][19] 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.

Economy Economy - overview: The economy depends largely on US military spending and tourism. Total US grants, wage payments, and procurement outlays amounted to $1.3 billion in 2004. Over the past 30 years, the tourist industry has grown to become the largest income source following national defense. The Guam economy continues to experience expansion in both its tourism and military sectors.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.5 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.773 billion (2001)
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita (PPP): $15,000 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force: 62,050 (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 26%
industry: 10%
services: 64% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate: 11.4% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: 23% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.5% (2005 est.)
Budget: revenues: $319.6 million
expenditures: $427.8 million (2002 est.)
Agriculture - products: fruits, copra, vegetables; eggs, pork, poultry, beef
Industries: US military, tourism, construction, transshipment services, concrete products, printing and publishing, food processing, textiles
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 1.793 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 1.667 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 13,530 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 12,130 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $45 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities: mostly transshipments of refined petroleum products; construction materials, fish, food and beverage products
Exports - partners: Japan 67.2%, Singapore 11.6%, UK 4.8% (2006)
Imports: $701 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, food, manufactured goods
Imports - partners: Singapore 50%, South Korea 21.4%, Japan 14%, Hong Kong 4.6% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: Guam receives large transfer payments from the US Federal Treasury ($143 million in 1997) into which Guamanians pay no income or excise taxes; under the provisions of a special law of Congress, the Guam Treasury, rather than the US Treasury, receives federal income taxes paid by military and civilian Federal employees stationed in Guam (2001 est.)
Debt - external: $NA
Currency (code): US dollar (USD)
Currency code: USD
Exchange rates: the US dollar is used
Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 80,000 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 98,000 (2004)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system, integrated with US facilities for direct dialing, including free use of 800 numbers
domestic: modern digital system, including cellular mobile service and local access to the Internet
international: country code - 1-671; major landing point for submarine cables between Asia and the US (Guam is a trans-Pacific communications hub for major carriers linking the US and Asia); satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 11, shortwave 2 (2005)
Radios: 221,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 3 (2006)
Televisions: 106,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .gu
Internet hosts: 36 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 20 (2000)
Internet users: 65,000 (2005)
Transportation Airports: 5 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 4
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Roadways: total: 977 km (2004)
Ports and terminals: Apra Harbor
Military Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none