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Island, largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands, Micronesia, North Pacific Ocean. Guam is an unincorporated U.S. territory. Area: 217 sq mi (561 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 184,000. Capital: Hagåtña (Agana). Guam is divided into a northern plateau and a southern chain of volcanic hills. The indigenous population is Chamorro, Malayo-Indonesian with a considerable admixture of Spanish, Filipino, and Mexican ancestry. Chamorro and English are both official languages. Possibly visited by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, Guam was formally claimed by Spain in 1565 and remained Spanish until it was ceded to the U.S. in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. During World War II the Japanese occupied the island (1941–44). It subsequently became a major U.S. air and naval base. In 1950 it was made a U.S. territory and placed under the Department of the Interior. The military bases and tourism are the island's economic mainstays.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Guam, visit Britannica.com.