Photos of Guam

Introduction

Background

Spain ceded Guam to the US in 1898. Captured by the Japanese in 1941, it was retaken by the US three years later. The military installations on the island are some of the most strategically important US bases in the Pacific; they also constitute the island’s most important source of income and economic stability.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

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

Area

total: 544 sq km

land: 544 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 194

Area - comparative

three times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 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

highest point: Mount Lamlam 406 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

Natural resources

aquatic wildlife (supporting tourism), fishing (largely undeveloped)

Land use

agricultural land: 33.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 16.7% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 14.8% (2018 est.)

forest: 47.9% (2018 est.)

other: 18.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

2 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

no large cities exist on the island, though large villages (municipalities) attract much of the population; the largest of these is Dededo

Natural hazards

frequent squalls during rainy season; relatively rare but potentially destructive typhoons (June to December)

Geography - note

largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago and the largest island in Micronesia; strategic location in western North Pacific Ocean

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Guamanian(s) (US citizens)

adjective: Guamanian

Ethnic groups

Chamorro 37.3%, Filipino 26.3%, White 7.1%, Chuukese 7%, Korean 2.2%, other Pacific Islander 2%, other Asian 2%, Chinese 1.6%, Palauan 1.6%, Japanese 1.5%, Pohnpeian 1.4%, mixed 9.4%, other 0.6% (2010 est.)

Languages

English 43.6%, Filipino 21.2%, Chamorro 17.8%, other Pacific island languages 10%, Asian languages 6.3%, other 1.1% (2010 est.)

Religions

Christian (predominantly Roman Catholic) 94.2%, folk religions 1.5%, Buddhist 1.1%, other 1.6%, unaffiliated 1.7% (2020 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 27.22% (male 23,748/female 22,122)

15-24 years: 16.08% (male 14,522/female 12,572)

25-54 years: 36.65% (male 31,880/female 29,871)

55-64 years: 10.5% (male 9,079/female 8,610)

65 years and over: 9.54% (male 7,504/female 8,577) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 52.4

youth dependency ratio: 36.4

elderly dependency ratio: 16.1

potential support ratio: 6.2 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 29.4 years

male: 28.7 years

female: 30.2 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 130

Birth rate

18.76 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79

Death rate

5.99 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

Net migration rate

-10.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 222

Population distribution

no large cities exist on the island, though large villages (municipalities) attract much of the population; the largest of these is Dededo

Urbanization

urban population: 95% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.84% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

147,000 HAGATNA (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.16 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.73 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 11.75 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 11.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 123

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.25 years

male: 74.81 years

female: 79.85 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Drinking water source

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 89.8% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 89.8% of population (2015 est.)

total: 89.8% of population (2015 est.)

unimproved: urban: 10.2% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 10.2% of population (2015 est.)

total: 10.2% of population (2015 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 29.4%

male: 29.7%

female: 28.9% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 30

Environment

Environment - current issues

fresh water scarcity; reef damage; inadequate sewage treatment; extermination of native bird populations by the rapid proliferation of the brown tree snake, an exotic, invasive species

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

Land use

agricultural land: 33.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 16.7% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 14.8% (2018 est.)

forest: 47.9% (2018 est.)

other: 18.7% (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Urbanization

urban population: 95% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.84% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 141,500 tons (2012 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 25,258 tons (2011 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 17.9% (2011 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Guam

local long form: none

local short form: Guahan

abbreviation: GU

etymology: the native Chamorro name for the island "Guahan" (meaning "we have" or "ours") was changed to Guam in the 1898 Treaty of Paris, whereby Spain relinquished Guam, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the US

Dependency status

unincorporated organized territory of the US with policy relations between Guam and the federal government under the jurisdiction of the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior

Government type

republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches; unincorporated organized territory of the US with local self-government

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)

etymology: the name is derived from the Chamoru word "haga," meaning "blood", and may refer to the bloodlines of the various families that established the original settlement

Administrative divisions

none (territory of the US)

Independence

none (territory of the US)

National holiday

Discovery Day (or Magellan Day), first Monday in March (1521)

Constitution

history: effective 1 July 1950 (Guam Act of 1950 serves as a constitution)

amendments: amended many times, last in 2015

Legal system

common law modeled on US system; US federal laws apply

Citizenship

see United States

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal; note - Guamanians are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Executive branch

chief of state:

President Joseph R. BIDEN Jr. (since 20 January 2021); Vice President Kamala D. HARRIS (since 20 January 2021)



head of government: Governor Lourdes LEON GUERRERO (since 7 January 2019); Lieutenant Governor Josh TENORIO (since 7 January 2019)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the Legislature

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by an Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state to serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Guam, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican presidential primary elections; governor and lieutenant governor elected on the same ballot by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for 2 consecutive terms); election last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held in November 2022)

election results: Lourdes LEON GUERRERO elected governor; percent of vote -  Lourdes LEON GUERRERO (Democratic Party) 50.7%, Ray TENORIO (Republican Party) 26.4%; Josh TENORIO (Democratic Party) elected lieutenant governor

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislature of Guam or Liheslaturan Guahan (15 seats; members elected in a single countrywide constituency by simple majority vote to serve 2-year terms)

elections: last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held on 3 November 2020)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 10, Republican Party 5; composition - men 5, women 10, percent of women 66.7%

note: Guam directly elects 1 member by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term as a delegate to the US House of Representatives; the delegate can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the Committee of the Whole House, but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote; election of delegate last held on 6 November 2018 (next to be held on 3 November 2020); election results - seat by party - Democratic Party 1; composition 1 man

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court of Guam (consists of 3 justices); note - appeals beyond the Supreme Court of Guam are referred to the US Supreme Court

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Guam legislature; justices appointed for life subject to retention election every 10 years

subordinate courts: Superior Court of Guam - includes several divisions; US Federal District Court for the District of Guam (a US territorial court; appeals beyond this court are heard before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party [Joaquin "Kin" PEREZ]
Republican Party [Jerry CRISOSTOMO]

International organization participation

AOSIS (observer), IOC, PIF (observer), SPC, UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (territory of the US)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: 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, a proa or outrigger canoe with sail, and a palm tree with the word GUAM superimposed in bold red letters; the proa is sailing in Agana Bay with the promontory of Punta Dos Amantes, near the capital, in the background; the shape of the central emblem is that of a Chamorro sling stone, used as a weapon for defense or hunting; blue represents the sea and red the blood shed in the struggle against oppression

note: the US flag is the national flag

National symbol(s)

coconut tree; national colors: deep blue, red

National anthem

name: "Fanohge Chamoru" (Stand Ye Guamanians)

lyrics/music: Ramon Manalisay SABLAN [English], Lagrimas UNTALAN [Chamoru]/Ramon Manalisay SABLAN

note: adopted 1919; the local anthem is also known as "Guam Hymn"; as a territory of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner," which generally follows the playing of "Stand Ye Guamanians," is official (see United States)

Economy

Economic overview

US national defense spending is the main driver of Guam’s economy, followed closely by tourism and other services. Guam serves as a forward US base for the Western Pacific and is home to thousands of American military personnel. Total federal spending (defense and non-defense) amounted to $1.988 billion in 2016, or 34.2 of Guam’s GDP. Of that total, federal grants and cover-over payments amounted to $3444.1 million in 2016, or 35.8% of Guam’s total revenues for the fiscal year. In 2016, Guam’s economy grew 0.3%. Despite slow growth, Guam’s economy has been stable over the last decade. National defense spending cushions the island’s economy against fluctuations in tourism. Service exports, mainly spending by foreign tourists in Guam, amounted to over $1 billion for the first time in 2016, or 17.8% of GDP.

Real GDP growth rate

0.4% (2016 est.)

0.5% (2015 est.)

1.6% (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$5.793 billion (2016 est.)

$5.697 billion (2015 est.)

$5.531 billion (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

GDP (official exchange rate)

$5.793 billion (2016 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$35,600 (2016 est.)

$35,200 (2015 est.)

$34,400 (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 56

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: NA

industry: NA

services: 58.4% NA (2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 56.2% (2016 est.)

government consumption: 55% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 20.6% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: NA (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 19.4% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -51.2% (2016 est.)

Agricultural products

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

Industries

national defense, tourism, construction, transshipment services, concrete products, printing and publishing, food processing, textiles

Labor force

73,210 (2016 est.)

note: includes only the civilian labor force

country comparison to the world: 183

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 0.3%

industry: 21.6%

services: 78.1% (2013 est.)

Budget

revenues: 1.24 billion (2016 est.)

expenditures: 1.299 billion (2016 est.)

Public debt

22.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

32.1% of GDP (2013)

country comparison to the world: 184

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Exports

$1.124 billion (2016 est.)

$1.046 billion (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156

Exports - partners

South Korea 31%, Hong Kong 27%, Taiwan 18%, Philippines 7% (2019)

Exports - commodities

scrap iron, electric batteries, gas turbines, scrap copper, beauty products (2019)

Imports

$2.964 billion (2016 est.)

$3.054 billion (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 155

Imports - partners

Singapore 33%, Japan 21%, South Korea 18%, Hong Kong 9%, Malaysia 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, trunks/cases, cars, insulated wire, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 70,639

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 42.01 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 150

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 181,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 113 (July 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: integrated with US facilities for direct dialing, including free use of 800 numbers (2020)

domestic: three major companies provide both fixed-line and mobile services, as well as access to the Internet; fixed-line 42 per 100 and 113 per 100 for mobile-cellular (2019)

international: country code - 1-671; major landing points for Atisa, HANTRU1, HK-G, JGA-N, JGA-S, PIPE-1, SEA-US, SxS, Tata TGN-Pacific, AJC, GOKI, AAG, AJC and Mariana-Guam Cable submarine cables between Asia, Australia, and the US (Guam is a transpacific communications hub for major carriers linking the US and Asia); satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

about a dozen TV channels, including digital channels; multi-channel cable TV services are available; roughly 20 radio stations

Internet users

total: 135,073

percent of population: 80.51% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 177

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 2 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 1 (2013)

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Apra Harbor

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues