Difference between revisions of "Guam"
Latest revision as of 20:34, 16 February 2018
It is the largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago. Guam is a territory of the United States of America. It is considered to occupy a militarily strategic location, south of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Guam is one of many islands that make up Micronesia, which politically consists of Belau (Palau), the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati (anthropologically having affinities with Polynesia and Micronesia), the Marshall Islands, and several remote islands designated as the US-administered islands of the Central Pacific. All of Micronesia has close political ties to the US.
Northern Region- The northern part of the island is a relatively flat limestone plateau and is comprised of two villages (Dedeo and Yigo) and the United States' Andersen Air Force Base. Dededo is Guam's most populous village. Highlights for visitors include the Guam National Wildlife Refuge Ritidian Unit, the Micronesia Mall, Two Lovers Point, parks, beaches and hiking trails. Dededo hosts a busy weekend flea market that attracts large crowds - vendors sell all kinds of items, local produce and tasty food.
Central Region- Central Guam is quite metropolitan. The island's capitol of Hagåtña is the seat of government and features a historic walking path through the village. Tumon Bay is brimming with luxury hotels and high-end shopping. Destinations of interest here include: the Chamorro Village with its lively Wednesday Night Market; the historic Plaza de Espana and Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica; plentiful beaches with water sports like parasailing, kite boarding, boating and personal watercraft. Local companies offer dolphin watching, diving, and fishing tours regularly. The most bustling nightlife is located in this region of the island - there are many bars, karaoke joints, and dance clubs up and down the Tumon strip. Shopping spots include Guam Premier Outlets and Agana Shopping Center. A new Guam Museum is currently under construction.
Southern Region- Guam's southern end is mostly rural and picturesque - featuring a volcanic mountain range and rolling green hills. Chamorro customs are preserved at Inarajan's Gef Pa'go Cultural Village; it features thatched huts and offers a picture of pre-World War II Guam. Visitors can learn to make a variety of crafts including woven items, rope, sea salt, coconut candy and coconut oil. Off the coast of Merizo and across a lagoon sits Cocos Island. Talofofo Bay's black sand beaches are a beautiful contrast to the white sand found around the rest of the island. Hiking trails are plentiful, and lead to destinations like Upper and Lower Sigua Falls and an ancient Spanish bridge down in Cetti Bay. The War in the Pacific National Historic Park operates a visitor center near the main gate of US Naval Base Guam.
All villages elect a mayor and vice mayor. Central villages are more urban. According to the 2010 US Census, Guam's population is 85% Catholic. Each village celebrates the fiesta of a patron saint or saints. These fiestas are usually large events where everyone is welcome, regardless of religious beliefs. On December 8, the island celebrates its patron saint of Santa Maria Kamalen with a Mass at the cathedral-basilica and a procession around Hagåtña. This event dates back hundreds of years, to the Spanish Era.
Points of interest
Guam was ceded to the US by Spain in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. Captured by Japan and its army in 1941, it was retaken by the US three years later. The military installations on the island are some of the more strategically important U.S. bases in the Western Pacific.
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. However, Guam tourism is branching out to attract people from other Asian countries such as Taiwan, South Korea and China. Most food and industrial goods are imported. The possibility of a large military buildup has generated a lot of interest in increasing the tourist facilities on the island.
Guam enjoys a tropical marine climate: generally warm and humid, moderated by northeast trade winds. The dry season runs from January to June, the rainy season from July to December, though with little seasonal temperature variation. During the rains, squalls are common, though destructive typhoons are rare.
A unique aspect of Guam for interested world travellers is its long standing relationship with the United States as an unincorporated territory. While the island's political status has remain unchanged for over a century many island stakeholder's are seeking solutions to address political status.
The entry requirements for Guam are largely the same as those for the US, and nationals of all countries not needing a visa to enter the U.S. do not need a visa to enter Guam, although they may require an ESTA travel authorization. These countries include:
Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program
Foreign citizens may enter Guam using one of three options:
If you are using the Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program, you do not need to apply for a travel authorization prior to going. The Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program includes seven U.S.-VWP countries (Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and the UK) plus Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and Russia (from 15.01.2012). Foreign citizens using the US-Visa Waiver Program may stay 90 days, while citizens using the Guam/CNMI-VWP may stay for 45 days. Mainland Chinese(including Macau) citizens in possession of a machine-readable passport, completed Form I-736 (Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Information form) and Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) may enter the CNMI only visa-free for up to 45 days (travel to Guam still requires applying for a visa in advance). Citizens of non-VWP countries must apply for a U.S. visa at any U.S. embassy.
Won Pat Guam International Airport (GUM) is the only civilian gateway to the island and is located only a few kilometers inland of Tumon. The airport is quite pleasant and relatively large compared to population; it is also sleep-able if you have a few hours in transit. The Internet at the airport did not work (December 2016). A taxi from the airport to local hotels is a complete rip off -- several time more expensive than it would be on the mainland. There is no public bus option from the airport, so best is to team up with someone.
The airline servicing Guam is United Airlines, which offers non-stop service to Honolulu with onward connections in Honolulu to Chicago,Denver,Houston,Los Angeles,Newark,San Francisco,and Washington-Dulles. It also offers non-stop flights from Guam to most major cities in Japan, as well as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Palau, Manila, and many of the Federated States of Micronesia.
All other service to Guam is through East Asia on Delta Air Lines (serving Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya), JAL (Tokyo), Korean Air (Seoul, Busan and Osaka), China Airlines (Taipei), Eva Airways (Taipei) and Philippine Airlines (Manila).
There is no regular ferry service from Guam, but cruise ships do stop in Guam on various itineraries, generally as part of a Pacific crossing or world circumnavigation.
is fairly simple and similar to the mainland US. Roads are not graded to US standards and are very slippery in rain, take caution. The main route on the island is Marine Corps Drive/Guam Route 1 (Better known as Marine Drive). On main roads in Guam, expect congestion. Many people purchase vehicles described as "Guam Bombs" which are older vehicles that are great to get around in and affordable.
Buses are available, but the frequency at which they operate is very unpredictable, you may end up waiting 2+ hours for a bus. The Guam Public Transportation system is generally known to be unreliable and slow. As of December 2016, there has been an improvement -- bus drivers have cell phones and there are inspectors. It is a cheap way to travel around the island if you do not want to bother with car rental.
The Tourist Shopping Buses stops at most hotels in Tumon. The Shopping Bus costs $4 for a one-way ticket and $12 for a daily pass -- December 2016. There are buses going North and South -- make sure you pick the right one -- service is frequent and it works well.
is only safe in the central business districts of Hagåtña and Tumon. Walking anywhere else around the island is hazardous due to dangerous vehicular traffic and the lack of sidewalks.
English and Chamorro are the official languages of Guam, English being the dominant language. Chamorro language is loan words from Spanish phrases. Persons employed in the tourist industry will typically have a working knowledge of Japanese and Korean. Filipino is spoken by the large immigrant community and some Spanish is understood too.
There are many retail outlets in Guam, including DFS (Duty Free Shoppers) which operates several stores in hotels, a large "Galleria," and a store in the Guam Airport. Further, visitors to Guam will note some of the same shopping opportunities that exist in "the States." Although there is no Wal-Mart, there is a large K-Mart that does a very high volume of business. Indeed, visitors who are used to the cavernous voids of K-Marts in the US may be surprised to find that they can barely squeeze through the aisles of the Guam K-Mart.
The Tumon Bay area possesses many duty-free shopping outlets and boutiques catering to Japanese tourists. Among these are boutiques selling Bvlgari, Chanel, Cartier, Dior, Fendi, Ferragamo, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and more.
For US citizens, Guam offers greatly increased customs exemptions coupled with duty and tax free importation of goods. However, take care with the basic prices offered in stores. Much merchandise has been shipped a very great distance at no small cost.
Locals pride themselves in Guam's take on barbecue and families and friends often get together and for barbecues. If you ask, there's a good chance you'll get invited. Chamorro cuisine is a mix of Spanish, Asian and American flavors. The typical eating plate features red rice, barbecued meat, flour or corn tortillas, keleguen (a cold meat appetizer made from beef, chicken, or seafood, coconut, onions, peppers and lemon juice), and various vegetable side dishes. A local fermented coconut drink called "tuba" can also be found at fiestas, flea markets or from roadside vendors.
Guam has a large range of restaurants, including many American mainland fast food and franchise chains. Japanese franchise eateries are also common. Major hotels and restaurants serve continental meals and ethnic dishes. Travellers who venture further will find Chamorro, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese, Mexican, and European restaurants, each with its own distinct ambiance.
Fresh seafood is bountiful. Fresh fish, octopus, and crab are either grilled or baked with vegetables or fruit, sashimi, and in other ways unique to the Pacific. Local produce includes corn, bananas, mangoes, calamansi, limes, tangerines, eggplant, watermelon, cucumber and more and is often sold at flea markets or roadside fruit stands.
The main tourist area is around Tumon Bay, which has a number of high-rise hotels and resorts similar to Waikiki Beach. Cheaper accommodations exist near the airport, especially around the village of Harmon. Be aware that Harmon hotels tend to be on the seedier side since Harmon is a mixed industrial/residential neighborhood. Many of the flights scheduled through Guam to other locations (especially in Asia) often require an overnight layover, so plan ahead. Some hotels offer airport pickup, as taxis can be quite expensive.
The University of Guam  is the only public university in the western pacific and is the educational hub for the region. UOG is in Mangilao, on the central eastern side of Guam. The university is primarily an undergraduate teaching university but does have Masters programs that focus on local research. Two of the Masters level programs include the (1) Environmental Science Program, with a focus on regional issues under three major sub-disciplines: biology-ecology, geosciences-engineering, and economics-management-law.; and (2) the Marine Laboratory (http://www.uog.edu/marinelab), which focuses on Marine Biology and other environmental issues.
As a US territory, Americans and American Samoan citizens can come here and work with no special visa or requirements, and they can stay and work indefinitely. Foreigners must go through the rigorous process of obtaining a US work permit. See the United States work section for more information.
The largest employers are the government of Guam and United Airlines, followed by a large duty-free retail firm (DFS Guam), the U.S. Federal Government, the hotel industry and services sectors. Guam has two large military bases and several smaller military installations that employ many people. The only U.S. Air Force base is Andersen Air Force Base on the northern tip of the island. The U.S. Navy has a large naval station -- Naval Station Guam --located on the west-central part of the island near the village Agat.
Micronesian Diver's Association has information on the many local dive sites as well as boat dives around the island. Highlights include: The Blue Hole, a more advanced dive with an incredible drop through a hole in the reef; and the Kitzagawa Maru and Tokei Maru, two Japanese warships sunk out in Apra Habor. 337 kilometers off the south east coast lies the worlds deepest point, the Mariana Trench, for anyone wishing to peer 11,000 meters down into the abyss you will need to charter a private boat for the experience.
Observe caution when engaged in water activities on Guam, as in any coastal area, as currents can be swift and unpredictable, depending on the season. During the rainy season (from about August until March), water can pool unevenly on road surfaces. Pooling of rain water can lead to flooding of roads in the southern half of Guam, which does not have sewer drainage built under the road surfaces. Furthermore, many roads are in disrepair and potholes are frequent, which can easily blow out tires.
Violent crime is fairly low, but property crime tends to be high, so safeguard valuables in vehicles. When traveling to rural or isolated areas, particularly near hiking trails, it is best to take valuables with you and leave your vehicle unlocked; they are often broken into and it will save you from paying for damages to the vehicle. Rental cars are marked by stickers and can be targeted by thieves. Sex crime is very serious problem in Guam. For the tourists, be careful when you are jogging in isolated area such as remote road to Two Lover's Point, where some sexual assault cases have been reported. Guam is in a major earthquake zone, and these occur every few years. That said, there have been few casualties to date.
The mainland U.S. has had some influence on Guam when it comes to LGBT rights. Private non-commercial same-sex acts are legal. But there are no anti-discrimination nor harassment codes in place, outside of military bases. Same-sex marriages are performed and recognized as of June 2015 and it is also legal to adopt a child if you plan on living in Guam.
The civilian Guam Memorial Hospital is in Tamuning, in the Central Region. If you have access to military bases, there's a Naval Hospital.
The Chamorro people, also known as the Chamoro or Chamoru, are indigenous to Guam. They possess a culture that mixes Asian, Spanish, and American cultures, and in general the people are gregarious and welcoming to visitors. Observe common courtesies and tend to err on the modest side, especially with clothing. Other cultures found in Guam include those from the Philippines, Japan, China, Korea, and other countries.
The Chamorro population is predominantly but not exclusively Catholic, with Protestantism also popular. On Guam, rosaries take the place of large formal gatherings to remember those who have passed away, and such congregations can occur for up to 20 years after someone has passed.