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This is what you need to know about Guam

The tiny island of Guam is at the center of nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea.
Guam
The island of Guam is a tourist destination and an important U.S. military stronghold. Photo: Google Commons

The small U.S. territory of Guam has been thrust in the news. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump have verbally volleyed since Pyongyang threatened to launch four nuclear missiles sometime this month, targeting the U.S.'s military stronghold in Asia.

Where is Guam?

Guam is basically in the middle of nowhere. It's located in Micronesia about 1,500 miles from the Philippines and about 1,600 miles from Japan. It is part of the 500-mile-long volcanic archipelago known as the Mariana Islands, but its nearest neighbor is about 270 miles away. It is the largest of the 15 islands in the Marianas.

Guam is a territory of the United States.

Guamanians are U.S. citizens with U.S. passports, but they cannot vote in general elections for president (unless they move residence to the United States). Guam has a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, but that representative cannot vote.

Guam has its own elected governor, court system and legislature thanks to the Guam Organic Act signed in 1950 by President Harry S. Truman. The people of Guam have a bill of rights which includes separation of church and state. Federal taxes are given back to Guam.

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"Chamorro"(or "Chamoru") refers to the native people of Guam and the surrounding Mariana Islands.

Why is Guam so important?

Dubbed the "Tip of the Spear," Guam is key to the U.S. military's deployed presence in the Pacific and is the main military foothold for the States in Asia.

Aside from civilians, about 7,000 troops and many large military outposts, including Andersen Air Force Base and the Naval Base Guam, reside on Guam. The island is also home to a nuclear submarine homing station for the United States.

In addition, Guam houses the terminal high-altitude area defense battery (THAAD), which is designed to shoot down missiles as they reenter the atmosphere.

When did America gain control of Guam?

America first captured Guam during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Japan controlled Guam during World War II, but the American military retook the island in the Second Battle of Guam, which lasted for about two months and ended in August 1944.

 
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