Guam – Visa-Free America.
As of October 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security canceled visa-free entry for Russians to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Turister editorial board hopes that this is a temporary decision by the authorities. As soon as it is canceled, we will be sure to report it in the news.
Among the visa-free travel destinations for domestic travelers stands out the island of Guam. It is not just a picturesque piece of land in the Pacific Ocean with rich cultural heritage, but a real “visa-free America”: Guam is an island territory of the United States, opened for visa-free travel to Russia in 2012.
Guam is the westernmost American territory, located about 1,500 km north of the equator in the western Pacific. The island has an area of 570 square meters and measures about 50 km long and 6-13 km wide. Guam is the most populous island in Micronesia, the largest island in the Mariana Archipelago, and is located at its southern tip.
Politically, Guam is what is known as an organized unincorporated territory of the United States, and is governed by a civilian government. Locals have U.S. citizenship under the Organic Act of Guam, signed into law in 1950. The capital of the island is the city of Hagåtña. The official languages are English and the Aboriginal language Chamorro.
Guam was settled by one of the Austronesian peoples, the Chamorros, about 3,500 years ago. The island was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan on March 6, 1521 during a round-the-world voyage sent by the king of Spain.
One hundred years later, Jesuit missionaries came to Guam to spread Christianity, European values, and trade relations. Spain’s great influence and the island’s proximity to the Philippines influenced the local traditions, culture, and language of the indigenous Chamorro people.
Guam became a U.S. territory as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898, and with the arrival of the Americans various innovations were introduced on the island – in agriculture, health, education, taxation, and social activities. Six years after the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1944, the Organic Act was enacted, and Guam became an unincorporated territory with limited powers of self-government.
Today, tourism makes up a major portion of the island’s economy. Visitors from all over the world come to Guam to golf, dive, surf, and parasail, relax on the beach, unwind in the spa, experience the unique culture of the local Chamorros, and shop at Guam’s duty free stores.
The same rules apply to aliens entering Guam as to any other U.S. territory. For example, U.S. citizens may enter on presentation of an internal passport or ID, while residents of most other countries must have a valid passport with a U.S. visa. For citizens of some countries entry into Guam is visa-free – it is regulated by the Combined Natural Resources Act of November 28, 2009. The Visa Waiver Program, according to the Federal Register, includes countries that are geographically close to Guam, countries that provide substantial inbound tourism to the island, or countries that provide reciprocal entry conditions for U.S. citizens.
Currently such countries as Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Great Britain participate in the visa-free program. Since 2012, Russian citizens are also eligible for visa-free travel to Guam.
Guam is a visa-free America. Foreigners are allowed visa-free entry to the island for up to 45 days. Further travel to other U.S. territories is not allowed. A foreign traveler must arrive in Guam aboard an airline authorized to fly to the island, which include United Airlines, JINAIR, Northwest/Delta Airlines, Eva Air, Japan Airlines, China Airlines, Philippine Airlines and Korean Airlines. The approximate travel time from Guam to the major Asian capitals is 3.5 to 4.5 hours, and the flight to Hawaii is 7 hours.
Since Guam is located in close proximity to such Asian countries as Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, the main entry flow of tourists to the island is provided by these states. Since the introduction of visa-free regime for Russians, the island is growing in popularity among our compatriots.
Tourists are attracted to the island of Guam by its tropical climate with an average annual temperature of +29°C. In the evenings, the temperature rarely drops below +21°C, and daytime temperatures almost never exceed +32°C. The rainy season lasts from May to November, with the highest rainfall in August (410 mm) and the lowest in April (55 mm). The dry winter-spring period is best for a tourist trip.
Guam is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. The local currency is the U.S. dollar and cards are accepted for payment by virtually all major payment systems.
Guam offers budget, private hotels as well as luxury hotels from such world-renowned chains as the Hilton, Sheraton, Hyatt, Outrigger, and Westin. Most major hotels are located in Tumon, the island’s main tourist area in central Guam. The southern part of Guam can accommodate tourists who prefer secluded locations as well as athletes who want to surf, especially during the windy season. The northern part of the island is not a popular tourist area because it is mostly occupied by U.S. military bases and has a precipitous coral shore.
Most of the attractions visited by tourists are located in the capital of Guam, Hagatne. You can learn about the history of the island in Spain Square and the Cathedral of the Sweetest Name of Mary, Angel Santos Memorial Park, called Lattes Park, the historic village of Jeff Pago in Inarayan, the historical park “War in the Pacific”. Guam’s natural beauty can be admired from the top of Cape of Two Lovers in upper Tumon, from the observation decks of Fort Santa Agueda in Agana Heights, or in Setty Bay in the southern part of the island. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy a tour of the southern part of the island with a visit to Guam’s 32 waterfalls.
Guam – Guam Territory is an island in the western Pacific
The Territory of Guam ( Guåhån in Chamorro) is an island in the western Pacific Ocean, which is part of the United States and has the status of an unincorporated organized territory without the right to vote in national elections. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean in the Mariana Islands archipelago, sharing it with the Northern Mariana Islands.
The island’s natives, the Chamorro people, settled the island about 3,500 years ago.
Guam’s economy is supported primarily by tourism (especially from Japan) and the U.S. military base located on the island, which occupies one-third of the island. The island is home to the University of Guam.
Guam was settled by one of the Austronesian peoples, the Chamorros, about 3,500 years ago. By the beginning of the 16th century, when the expedition of Magellan discovered Guam (in 1521), the Chamorros had already begun to form an early class society. The Chamorros were divided into three main social strata: chiefs, commoners, and slaves.
Guam was declared a colony of Spain in 1565. From 1600 the island was used by Spanish galleons sailing from Mexico to the Philippines to rest the crews and replenish provisions. As a result, the Chamorro natives began to physically mix with the Spanish, Mexicans, and Filipinos who were part of the Spanish galleon crews.
The actual Spanish colonization, accompanied by the Christianization of the Chamorros, began in 1668, with the arrival of Catholic preachers on the island. The period from 1670 to 1695 was marked by a series of Chamorro riots suppressed by Spanish soldiers. The number of Chamorros, especially men, declined greatly. This led to further mixing of Chamorros with Spaniards, Filipinos and Mexicans. However, the Chamorros retained their language and some customs.
The United States conquered the island during the Spanish-American War in 1898, and received it under the Paris Peace Treaty signed that year. After that Guam served as a transshipment base for U.S. ships leaving or going to the Philippines.
During World War II, Guam was attacked by Imperial Japanese forces at the Battle of Guam (1941), three hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Guam surrendered to Japanese forces on December 10. In the midst of the war, approximately 19,000 Japanese soldiers and sailors were stationed on the island. Guam was liberated by the U.S. Marines on July 21, 1944, in the Battle of Guam, 13 days after the start of the battle to liberate the island from the Japanese invaders.
The island of Guam stretches 50 km from north to south, with a width of 12 km in the narrowest middle section. The topography of the northern part of the island differs sharply from that of the southern part. The northern part is a limestone plateau composed of corals. In the northwest and north the plateau steeply drops to the shore.
The southern part of the island is of volcanic origin and has a hilly relief. The highest point is Mount Lamlam (406 m). The hills are composed of lavas, as well as quartzite and clay shale. There are outcrops of granite and sandstone.
The island’s climate is tropical monsoon. Average daily temperatures are near 26-27 °С all year round. Rainy period lasts from May to November, when southwestern monsoon is established. Rainfall is highest in August (410 mm) and lowest in April (55 mm). During the dry winter-spring period (January to April) northeasterly winds blow. Annual precipitation exceeds 2000 mm. The island is subject to typhoons during the summer rainy season. One of the strongest typhoons in 1962 destroyed almost all the buildings on Guam.
The soils of the island are fertile, ferruginous, and in some places sparse. The northern part of Guam is covered with savannah vegetation. Wet tropical forests are found only in the river valleys and on the hillsides of the southern part of the island. Along the coast are groves of coconut palms.
Guam’s animal life is poor. Rodents (rats, mice) and bats are found. In the forests there are deer, imported by the Spaniards from the Philippines. Previously, the island was home to many birds, most of which are now extinct, imported in the 1940s, the snake – brown boyga.
Guam has formal status as an “organized unincorporated territory of the United States. It is governed by the Guam Island Organic Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1950. This law granted the island the right to local self-government and declared its residents U.S. citizens.
Executive authority is exercised by a governor (elected by the people of Guam for a four-year term), who appoints the local government.
Guam has one delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, but he has no voting rights.
The legislative body is the Legislature, which consists of 15 senators (elected by the people to 2-year terms).
There is a movement in Guam for complete independence from the United States, but most Guam residents prefer to retain their current status in a modified form with more autonomy.
Guam is the largest strategic U.S. military base in the Pacific. U.S. military personnel are concentrated primarily at Andersen Air Force Base and Apra Harbor Naval Base.
Guam is divided into 19 villages (Municipalities):
|№||Municipality||Region .||Area, km²||Population, people (2010)||Density, persons/km²|
|1||Agaña Heights||Central||2,68||3 808||1420,90|
|13||Santa Rita||South||41,89||6 084||145,24|
Population – 180.9 thousand (July 2010 estimate);
Annual growth rate – 1.3%;
Fertility – 18.1 per 1,000;
The mortality rate is 4.6 per 1,000;
Average life expectancy – 75 years for men, 81 years for women;
Ethno-racial composition: Chamorro 37.1%, Filipino 26.3%, Oceania 11.3%, mixed 9.8%, white 6.9%, other 8.6% (2000 census)
Languages: English 38.3%, Chamorro 22.2%, Filipino 22.2%, Oceania languages 6.8%, Asian languages 7%, other 3.5% (2000 census);
Urban population: 93%.
- Guam’s economy is based on military bases and tourist services.
Transportation and communications
Guam has an international airport. Antonio B. Von Pat International Airport has been built in Guam. Guam is now a popular destination for Japanese tourists, particularly because it is closer to Japan than Hawaii. A large number of tourist hotels and golf clubs have been built on the island. About 90% of the tourists are Japanese. Tourism plays an extremely important role in Guam’s economy. Because of it the beautiful beach has been built hotels, destroyed the reef and caused great damage to marine life.
The island is connected to the rest of the world with 12 fiber-optic Internet cables.