History & Culture


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The origin of the Chamorro race (the indigenous people of Guam) is believed to be of Indo-Malaya descent originating from Southeast Asia as early as 2,000 BC. Like many Pacific Island nations, Guam’s early society was largely agrarian and tribal in nature. The Chamorro flourished as an advanced fishing, horticultural, and hunting society.

In the late 1500s, Spain took control of Guam. The Spanish rule lasted more than 300 years, until the island was ceded to the United States in 1898 at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War. With the exception of a brief period of occupation by Japanese forces during WWII, Guam has maintained a close association with the United States since the Treaty of Paris (1898).

In 1949, U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed the Organic Act making Guam an unincorporated territory of the United States with limited self-governing authority, which it remains today, and granting American Citizenship to the people of Guam. In 1962 the U.S. Navy lifted the security clearance requirements for travel to Guam, and the island’s modern free enterprise system was born.

This current chapter of Guam’s history is perhaps the most interesting of all. Since the advent of tourism to Guam in 1967, when air travel service was inaugurated between Guam and Japan, the island economy began to diversify and expand. In short, it is a U.S. community in the Western Pacific. We are protected by the Constitution of the United States; the U.S. dollar is our basic currency; and the Internal Revenue Code is our income tax law.

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