|General background: 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
installation on the island is one of the most strategically
important US bases in the Pacific.
comparative: Three times the size of Washington,
Climate: 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.
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.
Population: 160,796 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Chamorro 37%, Filipino 26%,
White 10%, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other 27%
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, other 15% (1999
Language: English, Chamorro, Japanese
Government type: NA
Capital: Hagatna (Agana)
Legal system: Modeled on US; US federal laws
Economic overview: 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. Most food and industrial goods are
imported. Guam faces the problem of building up the
civilian economic sector to offset the impact of military
Communication/Telephone system: Modern system,
integrated with US facilities for direct dialing.
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