A Very Brief History of Guam
The island now known as Guam was settled by the Chamorro people, (of Malay origin) in about 500 A.D. It was first visited by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, while sailing for the King of Spain, and it became a Spanish colony from 1565, until it was captured by the Americans in 1898. Guam was occupied by the Japanese during World War II.
Is Guam Part of the United States of America?
- Guam is officially an unincorporated and organised island territory of the United States in Micronesia.
- Guam is of great strategic importance to the U.S.A. and is a key defence base.
- The inhabitants of Guam are called Guamanians, and they are American citizens by birth. Indigenous Guamanians (pre Spanish origin) are known as Chamorros, after the first settlers.
Facts and Factoids
- The capital city of Guam is Hagåtña and the most populous city is Dededo.
- Guam is a coral island, so the beaches are powdered coral, not sand. Paved roads in Guam are made by mixing coral and cement together.
- Ferdinand Magellan, initially called the island,' Isla de Ladrones', (Island of Thieves) because the islanders took whatever they could from his ship, (perhaps understandably), as payment for the food and water they had given the crew. Later, when sailors from Spain came to Guam, the native Chamorro people would run out to their ships to sell fruit, calling “Guahan!”“Guahan” means “I have,” but it sounded like “Guam” to the Spanish sailors, who named the island after this greeting.
- Guam is also known as the Hub of the Pacific and the Island of Warriors. As American citizens the Guamanians serve in the country’s military, but at a rate three times higher than the rest of the United States. There's a film called Island of Warriors, that testifies to this.
- A Japanese soldier hid in Guam’s jungle for nearly three decades. He was discovered in 1972 - he hadn’t realised that the war had ended.
What to Do in Guam?
Visit to Guam are mainly about outdoor leisure - beaches, snorkelling and hiking. Read about mine here - I had other things on my mind!