This tiny island in the Western Pacific offers blue water and coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving, serene beaches for swimming and sunbathing, intriguing cultural and historical sites, a warm populace, and a range of cuisine and nightlife options—all in a tropical paradise that is actually an outpost of the United States.
Guam is located in Micronesia, a subregion of Oceana consisting of hundreds of small islands that share a culture with Polynesia to the East and Melanesia to the South. Guam itself is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States and is the westernmost point of that country, along with the North Mariana Islands. Its inhabitants, known as Guamanians, are American citizens by birth.
The official languages of Guam are English and Chamorro. The Chamorro were the original inhabitants of Guam, and it is believed that they migrated there some 4,000 years ago. These peoples were related to the Austronesians that settled the Philippines and Taiwan, and they still make up the majority of Guamanians today. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in service to Spain, was the first European to set foot on the island, which was eventually claimed for Spain. The country remained under Spanish control until the end of the Spanish-American War, when it was ceded to the US. After Pearl Harbor, a Japanese invasion resulted in many beheadings, forced labor, and torture of the islanders. America recaptured the territory in 1944, and it has been home to an Air Force base—formerly North Field, now Andersen—since then. There is also a US Naval base in the south.
Today, Guam offers visitors a chance to dive in some of the Pacific’s most beautiful waters, explore shipwrecks, experience jungle and mountain terrain, dine on the freshest seafood—with a Polynesian focus, and enjoy the mix of Austronesian, Spanish, American, and other cultures found in Hagåtña, the capital, and Dededo, the most populous town.