History & Background
Guam is the southernmost island of the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean, located about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. The indigenous Chamorros, of Malayo-Polynesian descent, comprise about 42 percent of the population of 154,623 people (2000 estimate). Guam has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since it was ceded by Spain in 1898 by the Treaty of Paris. Japanese forces occupied the island between 1941 and 1944. The government was organized under the Organic Act of Guam, 1950, as amended, which was passed by the U.S. Congress. The local government, elected by resident citizens, is divided into an executive branch (governor and lieutenant governor), a 15-member unicameral legislature (senate), and a judiciary (Guam Superior Court and Guam Supreme Court). The island (212 square miles) is under the jurisdiction of the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior; it is subject to U.S. laws under a U.S. Federal District Court. Guam elects one non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives; it has no representative in the U.S. Senate. Residents (most of whom are U.S. citizens) cannot vote in U.S. national elections.