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THE HISTORY OF GUAM THE HISTORY OF GUAM


The Origin of the Chamorro Race
Archaeologacal evidence indicates that the ancient Chamorros were of Indo-Malayan and Filipino descent and settled in the Mariana Islands before 1500 B.C.
They were expert seamen and skilled craftsmen who built fine houses and canoes, and were familiar with the arts of weaving and pottery making. They had a clan and district government supported by a rigid caste system. Despite intermittent warfare, the Chamarros lived in comparative peace and security for thousands of years, isolated from the rest of the world.
The Spanish Era
Through the centuries, waves of conquerors, merchants and adventurers have swept across Guam like the surge and ebb of the tides. The island's first contact with the Western World was made through Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who arrived in 1521.
Guam and the rest of the Mariana Islands were claimed for the Spanish crown in 1565 by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. Guam was a strong matrilineal society, and it was through the women that much of the Chamorro culture - including the language, music, dance and customs - was able to survive.
In 1668 Jesuit missionaries arrived, bringing European civilization as well as Christianity. They taught the Chamarros to cultivate corn, raise cattle, adopt western clothing and tan hides. The Catholic Church became the focal point for village activities.
European Influence
During the turbulent period of European exploration and expansion, visitors from nations other than Spain also played a part in Guam's history
The last century of Spanish rule in Guam saw a number of scientists, voyagers, whalers and ships from Russia, France and England. Between 1817 and 1828 the island was visited by three scientific expeditions which included leading Russian and French scientists, their reports provided detailed accounts of life on Guam during this period.
Dawn of the American Era
Although the Spanich maintained control of Guam for more than 300 years, the island was ceded to the United States in 1898 at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War.
At the outset of World War I America proclaimed its neutrality and Guam followed suit. But in December 1914 the German warship Cormoran entered Apra Harbor for coal and provisions, thereby violating the neutrality of the United States. Subsequently, the ship was held and its officers and crew interred.
The United States declared war on Germany in 1917 and the German posession of the Northern Mariana Islands made an attack on Guam a distinct possibility. The German prisoners refused to grant formal surrender of the Cormoran and instead sank the ship in 120 feet of water.
After the war the navy continued to use Guam as a coaling station until 1941 when it fell to Japanese military forces shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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*The above information courtesy of The Guam Visitors Bureau. Used by permission.