- Area: 544 sq km
- Population: 167,358
- Infant mortality: 12.6 deaths/1,000 live births
- Life expectancy: 76 years
- Urbanisation: 94.7% of total population
- Literacy: 99%
Spain ceded Guam to the US in 1898. Captured by the Japanese in 1941, it was retaken by the US three years later. The military installations on the island are some of the most strategically important US bases in the Pacific; they also constitute the island’s most important source of income and economic stability
Current issues include fresh water scarcity; reef damage; inadequate sewage treatment; extermination of native bird populations by the rapid proliferation of the brown tree snake, an exotic, invasive species.
US national defence spending is the main driver of Guam’s economy, followed by tourism and other services. Guam serves as a forward US base for the Western Pacific and is home to thousands of American military personnel. Total federal spending (defence and non-defence) amounted to $1.973 billion in 2014, or 40.4% of GDP. Of that total, federal grants amounted to $373.3 million in 2013, or 32.6% of Guam’s total revenues for the fiscal year. Service exports, mainly spending by foreign tourists to Guam, amounted to $651 million in 2013, or 13.3% of GDP. In 2013, Guam’s economy grew 0.6%. Despite slow growth, Guam’s economy has been stable over the last decade. National defence spending cushions the island’s economy against fluctuations in tourism.