Guam to the natives also called "Guahan" is an island in the western North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines.
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
Hagåtña - (formerly Agana or Agaña), is the capital of the island and the seat of government. Sightseeing spots include: the Chamorro Village on Wednesday nights; a multi-storeyed latte stone built next to Adelup on the beach; the Council of the Arts and Humanities gallery; and the Guam Preservation Trust's historic walking tour of the village - the tour includes pre-war latte stones, Spanish Era buildings, and WWII fortifications.
Traffic and parking in Hagåtña can get crowded. The area is also undergoing massive roadwork as post-WWII infrastructure is upgraded and repaired. Another major construction project is the new Guam Museum. Visit on July 21 and you'll see the annual Liberation Day parade.
Agana Heights - Suburban area in the hills above Hagåtña. Fort Apugan, a Spanish Era fort looks out over Hagåtña Bay and the island.
Asan - Home to the War in the Pacific Park's Asan Beach Park. The park preserves the shoreline where the Marines and Army landed to retake the island in 1944.
Inarajan - Gef Pa'go Cultural Park - features handicrafts, dance performances and local food.
Mangilao - Home to higher learning institutions on the island - the University of Guam and Guam Community College
Tumon - Tourism district that features high-end shopping and hotels, bustling nightlife and adult entertainment.
Umatac - Visit during March to see a re-enactment of Ferdinand Magellan's landing, complete with burning huts and angry islanders.
War In The Pacific National Historical Park - former battlefields, gun emplacements, trenches, and historic structures all serve as silent reminders of the bloody World War II battles that ensued on Guam. While the park is known for its historical resources, the warm climate, sandy beaches, and turquoise waters attract visitors and residents.
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:
- Canadian citizens can work and study in Guam under the TN Status
- Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan citizens can live, work, and travel freely in Guam.
- American/American Samoan citizens can live, work, study, and travel freely with no restrictions other than having a passport for entry.
Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program
Foreign citizens may enter Guam using one of three options:
(1)- the U.S. Visa Waiver Program
(2)- the Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program or
(3)- a valid U.S. visa.
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 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 miles 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.
Getting in by car 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.
Walking 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. Filipino is spoken in this island. Spanish is understood too.
Chamorro Night Market. Wednesday nights at the Chamorro Village in Agana. Somewhat overpriced and touristy in fact, certain restaurants and shops (which are there permanently during the week) will actually charge more during the night market than they do normally.
Mangilao Night Market. Thursday nights at the Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao. A more community-oriented night market with generally cheaper prices and a greater selection of local,if not always Chamorro food.
- Fish Eye Marine Observatory. An underwater observatory at the Piti Bomb Holes Preserve. If you don't want to pay the fee, you can just swim out (following the pier) and snorkel in the area to the left of the observatory. Vast but not particularly diverse forests of both hard and soft coral can be found.
- Cabras Island Channel. Park across the street from the Cabras power plant. There is an artificial channel for coolant water. No swimming, but the water is very clear, and you can see various coral and fish as well as some particularly evil-looking sea urchins. A path along the left side of the channel will lead you out to the ocean.
- Gun Beach. From Tumon, head north, pass the Hotel Nikko and take the next right to the Beach Bar. Multiple signs will claim that parking is for Beach Bar patrons only however, they fail to mention the public (dirt) parking lot immediately to the right of the Beach Bar parking.
If this area is full, park at the Nikko's public parking area and walk past the dumpsters to the small beach access path. As with the rest of Guam, snorkeling areas are quite far out from the shore. There is also a pathway along the rock cliff to another beach.
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.
- Jamaican Grill, Tumon, Hagåtña and Dededo. Jamaican fusion restaurant featuring chicken, ribs and fish.
- Jeff's Pirates Cove, Ipan, Talofofo,A great place to stop for a burger, beer, or tasty Greek dishes. Situated just off the beach, the outdoor tables command a great view of the sea. Friendly staff, but hit-and-miss food quality.
- Linda's Coffee Shop, Hagåtña. Hole in the wall favorite of locals and the late night crowd.
- McKraut's, Malojloj. This German bar and restaurant is far off the tourist track. They serve real German food and celebrate Oktoberfest every year.
- Pika's Cafe, Tamuning. Serves breakfast and lunch with an emphasis on local produce. Very popular on weekends - prepare to wait a while for a table, but it's worth it.
- Shirley's Coffee Shop. A Guam staple since the 1980s - serves Asian and American eats in a family atmosphere.
- Japanese Restaurant WAON, Located in the Guam Reef & Olive Spa Resort. Restaurant serving both traditional Japanese and fusion cuisine. Nice sunset views. Also has an all-you-can-drink option. Try the tonkatsu or curry!
- MAIN Restaurant & Lounge, Dinner from 6:45PM every day. Located in the Guam Reef & Olive Spa Resort. All-day buffet restuarant with 90 foods available at dinner service. Also has a Chamorro dance show every night.
- Sand Dune, 24 hrs every day. Located in the Guam Reef & Olive Spa Resort. Lobby lounge & café.
- Island Sunrise Cafe, 286 Chalan Canton Ladera, Talofofo Guam 96915 (Traversed the island down Rte 4 to the three-way intersection above Talofofo Bay. Turn right and go up the hill past Notre Dame High School and drive past two bus-stops (both on the right), then turn right at the Island Sunrise Cafe sign,you'll see signs guiding you along the way. You'll find this lovely hideaway perched up on the cliff line offering one of the island's most breath-taking coastal vistas.) closed on Wednesday. Local cuisine and BBQ. As an added bonus breakfast is served from 8am-8pm. $5-$10..
- Buddies Billiards and Brew, (Behind Tick Tock).
- Bully’s Bar & Grill, (1F of The Plaza).
- Cafe Havana, (Hyatt Regency Guam Resort).
- Casa Nami, San Vitores Rd (Across from Pacific Islands Club, 2F).
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.
- PIC Resorts - Guam, 210 Pale San Vitores Rd.
- Tamuning Plaza Hotel, 960 S Marine Dr.
- Hyatt Regency Guam, 1155 Pale San Vitores Rd (Tumon Bay).
- Pacific Islands Club Hotel and Resorts: Guam, 210 Pale San Vitores Rd (Tumon Bay).
- Royal Orchid Guam Hotel, 626 Pale San Vitores Road (Tumon Bay).
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 Environmental Science Program, with a focus on regional issues under three major sub-disciplines: biology-ecology, geosciences-engineering, and economics-management-law.; and the Marine Laboratory , 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. 210 miles 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.
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. There were some sexual assault cases in that area. Rental cars have stickers and can be targeted by thieves.
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 whom have passed away, and such congregations can occur for up to 20 years after someone has passed.
Chamorro Guamanian culture is a combination of American, Spanish, Filipino, other Micronesian Islander and Mexican traditions, with few remaining indigenous pre-Hispanic customs. These influences are manifested in the local language, music, dance, sea navigation, cuisine, fishing, games (such as batu, chonka, estuleks, and bayogu), songs and fashion.
During Spanish colonial rule (1668–1898) the majority of the population was converted to Roman Catholicism and religious festivities such as Easter and Christmas became widespread. Post-contact Chamorro cuisine is largely based on corn, and includes tortillas, tamales, atole and chilaquiles, which are a clear influence from Spanish trade between Mesoamerica and Asia.
The modern Chamorro language is a Malayo-Polynesian language with much Spanish influence. Many Chamorros also have Spanish surnames because of their conversion to Roman Catholic Christianity and the adoption of names from the Catálogo alfabético de apellidos, a phenomenon also common to the Philippines and Latin America.
Due to foreign cultural influence from Spain, most aspects of the early indigenous culture have been lost, though there has been a resurgence in preserving any remaining pre-Hispanic culture in the last few decades. Some scholars have traveled throughout the Pacific Islands conducting research to study what the original Chamorro cultural practices such as dance, language, and canoe building may have been like.
Two aspects of indigenous pre-Hispanic culture that withstood time are chenchule' and inafa'maolek. Chenchule' is the intricate system of reciprocity at the heart of Chamorro society. It is rooted in the core value of inafa'maolek. Inafa'maolek, or interdependence, is the key, or central value, in Chamorro culture.
Inafa'maolek depends on a spirit of cooperation and sharing. This is the armature, or core, that everything in Chamorro culture revolves around. It is a powerful concern for mutuality rather than individualism and private property rights."
The core culture or Pengngan Chamorro is based on complex social protocol centered upon respect: From sniffing over the hands of the elders (called mangnginge in Chamorro), the passing down of legends, chants, and courtship rituals, to a person asking for permission from spiritual ancestors before entering a jungle or ancient battle grounds. Other practices predating Spanish conquest include galaide' canoe-making, making of the belembaotuyan (a string musical instrument made from a gourd), fashioning of acho' atupat slings and slingstones, tool manufacture, Matan Guma' burial rituals, and preparation of herbal medicines by Suruhanu.
Master craftsmen and women specialize in weavings, including plaited work (niyok- and akgak-leaf baskets, mats, bags, hats, and food containments), loom-woven material (kalachucha-hibiscus and banana fiber skirts, belts and burial shrouds), and body ornamentation (bead and shell necklaces, bracelets, earrings, belts and combs made from tortoise shells and Spondylus).
The cosmopolitan and multicultural nature of modern Guam poses challenges for Chamorros struggling to preserve their culture and identity amidst forces of acculturation. The increasing numbers of Chamorros, especially Chamorro youth, relocating to the U.S. Mainland has further complicated both definition and preservation of Chamorro identity.
While only a few masters exist to continue traditional art forms, the resurgence of interest among the Chamorros to preserve the language and culture has resulted in a growing number of young Chamorros who seek to continue the ancient ways of the Chamorro people.
Guam's economy depends primarily on tourism, Department of Defense installations and locally owned businesses. Despite paying no income or excise tax, it receives large transfer payments from the general revenues of the U.S. federal treasury.
Under the provisions of a special law by Congress, it is Guam's treasury rather than the U.S. treasury that receives the federal income taxes paid by local taxpayers,including military and civilian federal employees assigned to Guam.
Lying in the western Pacific, Guam is a popular destination for Japanese tourists. Its tourist hub, Tumon, features over 20 large hotels, a Duty Free Shoppers Galleria, Pleasure Island district, indoor aquarium, Sandcastle Las Vegas–styled shows and other shopping and entertainment venues.
It is a relatively short flight from Asia or Australia compared to Hawaii, with hotels and seven public golf courses accommodating over a million tourists per year.
Although 75% of the tourists are Japanese, Guam receives a sizable number of tourists from South Korea, the U.S., the Philippines, and Taiwan.Significant sources of revenue include duty-free designer shopping outlets, and the American-style malls: Micronesia Mall, Guam Premier Outlets, the Agana Shopping Center, and the world's largest Kmart.
The economy had been stable since 2000 due to increased tourism, but took a recent downturn along with the rest of the global economy. It is expected to stabilize with the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps' 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, currently in Okinawa, Japan,approximately 8,000 Marines, along with their 10,000 dependents, to Guam between 2010 and 2015. In 2003, Guam had a 14% unemployment rate, and the government suffered a $314 million shortfall.
The Compacts of Free Association between the United States, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau accorded the former entities of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands a political status of "free association" with the United States.
The Compacts give citizens of these island nations generally no restrictions to reside in the United States,also its territories and many were attracted to Guam due to its proximity, environmental, and cultural familiarity. Over the years, it was claimed by some in Guam that the territory has had to bear the brunt of this agreement in the form of public assistance programs and public education for those from the regions involved, and the federal government should compensate the states and territories affected by this type of migration.
Over the years, Congress had appropriated "Compact Impact" aids to Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii, and eventually this appropriation was written into each renewed Compact. Some, however, continue to claim the compensation is not enough or that the distribution of actual compensation received is significantly disproportionate.
As of 2008 Guam's largest single private sector employer, with about 1,400 jobs, was Continental Micronesia, a subsidiary of Continental Airlines;it is now a part of United Airlines, a subsidiary of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings, Inc.As of 2008 the Continental Micronesia annual payroll in Guam was $90 million.
Brown tree snake
Believed to be a stowaway on a U.S. military transport near the end of World War II, the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) was accidentally introduced to Guam, that previously had no native species of snake. It nearly eliminated the native bird population.
The problem was exacerbated because the snake has no natural predators on the island. The brown tree snake, known locally as the kulebla, is native to northern and eastern coasts of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. It is slightly venomous, but relatively harmless to human beings; it is nocturnal.
Although some studies have suggested a high density of these serpents on Guam, residents rarely see them. The United States Department of Agriculture has trained detector dogs to keep the snakes out of the island's cargo flow. The United States Geological Survey also has dogs that can detect snakes in forested environments around the region's islands.
Before the introduction of the brown tree snake, Guam was home to several endemic bird species. Among them were the Guam rail (or ko'ko' bird in Chamorro) and the Guam flycatcher, both common throughout the island. Today the flycatcher is entirely extinct and the Guam rail is extinct in the wild but bred in captivity by the Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources.
The devastation caused by the snake has been significant over the past several decades. As many as twelve bird species are believed to have been driven to extinction.According to many elders, ko'ko' birds were common in Guam before World War II.
Other bird species threatened by the brown tree snake include the Mariana crow, the Mariana swiftlet, and the Micronesian starling, though populations are present on other islands, including Rota.
Guam is said to have many more insects and 40 times more spiders than neighboring islands, because their natural predators birds are severely diminished, and the forests are almost completely silent due to lack of birdsong.
Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle
An infestation of the coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB), Oryctes rhinoceros, was detected on Guam on September 12, 2007. CRB is not known to occur in the United States except in American Samoa. Delimiting surveys performed September 13–25, 2007 indicated that the infestation was limited to Tumon Bay and Faifai Beach, an area of approximately 900 acres (3.6 km2).
Guam Department of Agriculture (GDA) placed quarantine on all properties within the Tumon area on October 5 and later expanded the quarantine to about 2,500 acres (10 km2) on October 25; approximately 0.5 miles (800 m) radius in all directions from all known locations of CRB infestation.
CRB is native to Southern Asia and distributed throughout Asia and the Western Pacific including Sri Lanka, Upolu, Samoa, American Samoa, Palau, New Britain, West Irian, New Ireland, Pak Island and Manus Island (New Guinea), Fiji, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Mauritius, and Reunion.
Other invasive species
From the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, the Spanish introduced pigs, dogs, chickens, the Philippine deer (Rusa mariannus), black francolins, and carabao (a subspecies of water buffalo), which have cultural significance. Herds of carabao obstruct military base operations and harm native ecosystems. After birth control and adoption efforts were ineffective, the U.S. military began culling the herds in 2002 leading to organized protests from island residents.
Other introduced species include cane toads imported in 1937, the giant African snail (an agricultural pest introduced during World War II by Japanese occupation troops) and more recently frog species which could threaten crops in addition to providing additional food for the brown tree snake population. Reports of loud chirping frogs native to Puerto Rico and known as coquí, that may have arrived from Hawaii, have led to fears that the noise could threaten Guam's tourism.
Introduced feral pigs and deer, over-hunting, and habitat loss from human development are also major factors in the decline and loss of Guam's native plants and animals.
Invading animal species are not the only threat to Guam's native flora. Tinangaja, a virus affecting coconut palms, was first observed on the island in 1917 when copra production was still a major part of Guam's economy. Though coconut plantations no longer exist on the island, the dead and infected trees that have resulted from the epidemic are seen throughout the forests of Guam.
During the past century, the dense forests of northern Guam have been largely replaced by thick tangan-tangan brush (Leucaena leucocephala). Much of Guam's foliage was lost during World War II. In 1947, the U.S. military is thought to have planted tangan-tangan by seeding the island from the air to prevent erosion. Tangan-tangan was present on the island before 1905.
In southern Guam, non-native grass species dominate much of the landscape. Although the colorful and impressive flame tree (Delonix regia) is found throughout the Marianas, the tree on Guam has been largely decimated.
Wildfires plague the forested areas of Guam every dry season despite the island's humid climate. Most fires are man-caused with 80% resulting from arson.Poachers often start fires to attract deer to the new growth. Invasive grass species that rely on fire as part of their natural life cycle grow in many regularly burned areas. Grasslands and "barrens" have replaced previously forested areas leading to greater soil erosion.
During the rainy season sediment is carried by the heavy rains into the Fena Lake Reservoir and Ugum River, leading to water quality problems for southern Guam. Eroded silt also destroys the marine life in reefs around the island. Soil stabilization efforts by volunteers and forestry workers (planting trees) have had little success in preserving natural habitats.
Having previously experienced extensive dredging, Tumon Bay is now a marine wildlife preserve.
Efforts have been made to protect Guam's coral reef habitats from pollution, eroded silt and overfishing, problems that have led to decreased fish populations. Since Guam is a significant vacation spot for scuba divers, this is important. In recent years, the Department of Agriculture, Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources has established several new marine preserves where fish populations are monitored by biologists.
Before adopting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, portions of Tumon Bay were dredged by the hotel chains to provide a better experience for hotel guests.
Tumon Bay has since been made into a preserve. A federal Guam National Wildlife Refuge in northern Guam protects the decimated sea turtle population in addition to a small colony of Mariana fruit bats.
Harvest of sea turtle eggs was a common occurrence on Guam before World War II. The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) was harvested legally on Guam before August 1978, when it was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) has been on the endangered list since 1970. In an effort to ensure protection of sea turtles on Guam, routine sightings are counted during aerial surveys and nest sites are recorded and monitored for hatchlings.