Flag of Guam

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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.


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


total: 549 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 549 sq km


tropical marine; generally warm and humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season from January to June, rainy season from July to December; little seasonal temperature variation


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: 9.09%
permanent crops: 16.36%
other: 74.55% (2001)

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


166,090 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

Chamorro 37%, Filipino 26%, white 10%, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other 27%


Roman Catholic 85%, other 15% (1999 est.)


English, Chamorro, Japanese


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1990 est.)

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


Hagatna (Agana)

National holiday:

Discovery Day, first Monday in March (1521)

Legal system:

modelled on US; US federal laws apply

Economy - overview:

The economy depends on US military spending, tourism, and the export of fish and handicrafts. Total US grants, wage payments, and procurement outlays amounted to $1 billion in 1998. Over the past 20 years, the tourist industry has grown rapidly, creating a construction boom for new hotels and the expansion of older ones. More than 1 million tourists visit Guam each year. The industry has recently suffered setbacks because of the continuing Japanese slowdown; the Japanese normally make up almost 90% of the tourists. Most food and industrial goods are imported. Guam faces the problem of building up the civilian economic sector to offset the impact of military downsizing.

Labor force:

60,000 (2000 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

private 74% (industry 10%, trade 24%, other services 40%), federal and territorial government 26% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate:

15% (2000 est.)

Agriculture - products:

fruits, copra, vegetables; eggs, pork, poultry, beef


US military, tourism, construction, transshipment services, concrete products, printing and publishing, food processing, textiles

Exports - commodities:

mostly transshipments of refined petroleum products; construction materials, fish, food and beverage products

Exports - partners:

Japan 79.7%, Singapore 6.8%, South Korea 5.1% (2003 est.)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum and petroleum products, food, manufactured goods

Imports - partners:

Singapore 34.6%, Japan 21.5%, South Korea 20.4%, Hong Kong 11% (2003 est.)

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.)


US dollar (USD)

Telephones - main lines in use:

84,134 (2001)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

32,600 (2001)


total: 885 km
paved: 675 km
unpaved: 210 km
note: there are also 685 km of roads classified non-public, including roads located on federal government installations

Ports and harbors:

Apra Harbor

Merchant marine:



5 (2003 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 4
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the US