Guam is an island in the Western Pacific Ocean, at approximately 13 degrees north latitude and 144 degrees east longitude, and has an area of 212 sq mi (549 sq km). Guam is located at the southern end of the Marianas Islands chain. It is the most populated and highly developed island serving as the area's communication and transportation hub.
The local culture reflects the influence of the native Chamorro people (they settled the Mariana Islands more than 4,000 years ago) and of the Spanish, who occupied Guam for over 300 years beginning in 1565. The island has been a US territory from 1898 until the present (except for 2.5 years in the early 1940s by Japan) and has had a U.S. military base on the island since 1944. Guam's sandy beaches and scuba diving draw more than a million tourists a year, particularly from China, Japan and Korea. Tourism is the dominant industry, and the second largest source of income is the U.S. military.
Hagåtña is considered the first European city in the Pacific, because it was colonized in 1565, which was much earlier than the rest of the Mariana Islands.
The name Hagåtña is derived from the Chamorro word hagå meaning blood. Supposedly, the name of this village came about due to the bloodlines of the families that established it.
Guam's main motorway, Marine Corps Drive, runs through the Hagåtña from east to west. Another major road, Rte 4, crosses the village from the shoreline to the central part of the island, running east.
It is also the religious center for the Catholic Church on Guam. It is home to many commercial enterprises which include law offices, banks, department or variety stores, insurance, technical and professional services and restaurants.
Hagåtña is currently one of the least populated villages on the island. Residential homes are mostly located below the cliff at the western part of the village. The northern part is home to mostly military personnel.
On March 25, 1998, the legislative body of Guam passed Bill 522, officially changing the name of the capital city from Agana to the Chamorro name of Hagåtña. Hagatña is located in central Guam, between Agana Bay and the cliffs of Agana Heights.
Economy and politics
Guam is an unincoprorated territory of the United States, with a legal system based on the U.S.; U.S. federal laws are in effect.
Hagåtña is the seat of the island's three branches of government: Judicial, Legislative and Executive. While residents of Guam do not vote for the U.S. president, they do vote for their nation's governor and lieutenant governor; the former is the head of government.
The mainstays of Guam's economy are tourism and military sectors, dependent in large part on the U.S. military presence. Nearly a third of Guam's economic activity is generated by the U.S. military.
Imports like petroleum and manufactured goods come from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. Exports like fish and other foods and contruction materials are received by Japan, Singapore, and the UK.
The year 2012 saw an increase in tourism, and service businesses like restaurants and hospitality are on the upswing. However, since the tourism industry is reliant on the economies from which the tourists come - like Japan - growth is likely to be slow as those economies recover from recent hardship.