There are many surprising facts about Guam. Because of its location in the Pacific, Guam has had a significant role in world history. Here are 9 facts you probably didn’t know about Guam:
1. Guam is 209 square miles. By comparison, New York City is 305 square miles, and the state of Rhode Island is 1,045 square miles. Also, Guam resembles a footprint.
2. Its population is made up of native Chamorros, plus Filipino, Spanish, European, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Guam was a Spanish colony for over 300 years, from 1521 to 1898. Guam was ruled by Japan from 1941 to 1944, during and after World War II.
3. The deepest known part of any ocean is only about 200 miles from Guam. The Mariana Trench is almost 7 miles deep and some of the world’s strangest and rarest ocean creatures live there.
4. Guam’s beaches do not have sand. Where the water meets the land, there is crushed, powdery coral thanks to all the coral reefs surrounding the island. Even the roads are made of a coral and cement mixture.
5. Guam is 4,000 miles from Hawaii and 7,000 miles from the continental United States. A flight from Atlanta to Guam would take 21 hours and 30 minutes and include at least 1 connecting flight. From Hawaii, it’s almost 8 hours. Despite its distance from the mainland, Guam exports refined petroleum, construction materials and fish to the United States upper 48 states.
6. Ferdinand Magellan, the first European explorer to cross the Pacific Ocean, was also the first European to visit Guam in 1521. His intent, as was the intent of most explorers of his time, was to find a quicker route to the Spice Islands. Instead, he discovered the Strait of Magellan. His appearance in Guam began Spain’s unofficial colonization of the island, although there were no permanent Spanish settlements until 1668. Only 18 of Magellan’s original 270 returned from the exploration. Magellan himself died on the expedition.
7. Guamanians are American citizens, but they are not allowed the right to vote in national elections or hold national offices, similar to the laws in the District of Columbia. Also, Guam’s House of Representatives member does not vote.
8. Guam’s major industry is tourism. Tourists from Japan accounts for about 80%, while the United States and other countries to a lesser degree spend money in Guam which keeps the economy moving. The United States Armed Forces is another key factor in Guam’s economy. There has been an American Naval base there since 1898, and there is also and Air Force base. The troops stationed there, as well as their families, are another major force in stimulating Guam’s economy.
9. Guam was bombed four hours after Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Many Guamanians were still in church at the time of the attack, since it was the day of the Catholic’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Thousands of civilian natives and military personnel were killed in this attack.