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 of 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 U.S.-administered islands of the Central Pacific. All of Micronesia has close political ties to the United States of America.
No true cities exist on Guam (if one uses the 50,000 person rule), but each "city" represents an individual township, all of which have mayors and limited autonomy within the central government. The largest population concentration is in the center of the island, since the south is fairly lightly populated and the north is mostly owned by the US military.
Most of the island's population is located in the central metropolitan area (includes the cites of Tumon, Agana, Dededo, Barrigada, Tamuning and Agana Heights) (metro pop. ~120,000)
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 installations on the island are some of the more strategically important US 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 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.
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
The entry requirements for Guam are largely the same as those for the United States, and nationals of all countries not needing a visa to enter the United States do not need a visa to enter Guam. In addition, nationals of Indonesia, Malaysia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Samoa, as well as British National (Overseas) passport holders do not need a visa to enter Guam. All others must apply for a US visa at any US embassy.
Won Pat Guam International Airport (GUM) is the only civilian gateway to the island.
The main airline servicing Guam is Continental Micronesia, a branch of Continental Airlines , which offers non-stop service to Honolulu with onward connections in Honolulu to to Los Angeles, Newark, and Houston). It also offers non-stop flights from Guam to Cairns in Australia, as well as Palau, Manila, Hong Kong and the Federated States of Micronesia.
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.
Driving 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.
Busses are available, but the frequency at which they operate is low, you may end up waiting 1+ hours for a bus.
Walking is only possible 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 is a first language on Guam, though Chamorro words are an integral part of the local vocabulary, and like any area, a local accent of English exists. Chamorro borrows many words from Spanish, and many place names are pronounced as in Spanish, with key differences: "y" is pronounced as a "j" and vice-versa, such that the local name Reyes is pronounced ray-jez.
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 voided cavernous K-Marts in the USA 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.
Guam is a haven of the culinary arts. Despite Guam’s small population, a wide array of restaurants offer scrumptious delicacies to warm any palate. Several restaurants have made their way to Guam, including Ya Mon's Jamaican Grill (local made soon-to-be franchised ) Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, Tony Romas and Chili's is a building next the the Guam Premier Outlets. Major hotels and restaurants serve quality Continental meals and exotic ethnic dishes, as well.
Fresh seafood is bountiful. Fresh fish, octopus, and lobster are either grilled or baked with vegetables or fruit, sashimi, and in other imaginative ways unique to the Pacific.
Travelers who venture further will find Chamorro, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese, Mexican, and European restaurants, each with its own distinct ambiance. Chamorro Village offers a great variety of choices for local chamorro food, especially Wednesday nights. Of course, American fast food chains, such as Wendy's, Burger King, McDonalds, Taco Bell,Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut, Winchells Donuts and even Dominos (over 20 locations!!!!) have become standard fare for those on the go or too lazy to go out and eat.
Locals pride themselves in BBQ'ing and it is a frequent event in Guam. Families and friends get together and throw awesome BBQ's frequently, so if you come here, ask about BBQ's. It's a good chance you'll get invited!
The main tourist area is around Tumon Bay, which has a number of high-rise hotels and resorts  similar to Waikiki Beach with an even larger percentage of Japanese tourists. 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 provides higher education opportunities for students on Guam, as well as providing higher education for much of Micronesia. The UOG is located in Mangilao, on the central eastern side of Guam. Students can earn various Undergraduate degrees and several programs offer degrees at the Masters level. Two of the better known Masters level programs include the (1) Environmental Science Program, focusing on Agricultural sciences through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Hydrology and Water Resources through the Water and Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific (WERI; http://www.weriguam.org); and (2) the Marine Laboratory (http://www.uog.edu/marinelab), which focuses on Marine Biology and other environmental issues.
In recent years, the University of Guam has faced accreditation issues through the US university system.
The largest employers on Guam are the Government of Guam and Continental Airlines, followed by a large duty-free retail firm (DFS Guam), the US 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 Air Force base is Andersen Air Force Base on the northern tip of the island. The US Navy has a large naval station -- Naval Station Guam --located on the west-central part of the island near the village Agat. The Navy operates the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station (NCTS) south of the village of Dededo. Additionally, the Navy controls the Fena Reservoir, which provides drinking water in addition to the aquifer in the northern part of the island.
Micronesian Diver's Association []has information on the may 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.
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. Also, roads are not graded according to US Standards, and 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. Rental cars have stickers and can be targeted by thieves.
The Chamorro people, also known as the Chamoro or Chamoru, are indigenous to Guam. They possess a culture that mixes Micronesian, 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 whom have passed away, and such congregations can occur for up to 20 years after someone has passed.