1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Guam

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GUAM (see 12.648). The population of the island on July 1 1920 was 14,724, of whom the natives numbered 13,698; foreign-born, 548; personnel of the naval station, 478. In shape the island, which has an estimated area of 225 sq. m., bears a resemblance to the sole of a human foot. Apra harbour, with proper improvements, could easily shelter a large fleet. Distances from Apra are approximately: Yap, 458 m.; Manila, 1,506 m.; Yokohama, 1,353 m.; Sydney, 3,067 m.; Honolulu, 3,337 m.; San Francisco (direct), 5,053 m.; Panama, 7,988 m. The mean average temperature is 81° F., with a mean maximum of 88° F. and a mean minimum of 72° F., but the heat is minimized, especially during the hottest months, by a constant breeze. The chief products are copra (the only export), maize or Indian corn (introduced from Mexico many years ago and the chief food crop), rice, taro, yams and sweet potatoes, breadfruit, plantains and bananas.

Education is in charge of a naval officer, who is assisted by a superintendent and district superintendent, as well as by 13 teachers furnished by the Federal Government. In 1920 there were 1,894 pupils of school age, 345 pupils over school age, an average daily attendance of 1,769; total number of teachers and substitutes 67, and of schools 14. The total cost of the schools to the island Government (exclusive of cost of upkeep and of four Guam Government students in the United States) was $14,500. Congress makes no appropriation directly for education purposes, but the naval station meets a part of the expenses. Instruction is in English. Considerable advance has been made in health and sanitation work. Guam has no private physicians, and the navy furnishes all medical assistance through a corps of eight medical officers, two dental surgeons, three pharmacists, eight navy nurses, and 30 hospital corps men. The disfiguring disease gangosa is being stamped out and its effects are no longer seen except among persons over thirty. All lepers have been sent to the island of Culion, the Philippine leper colony. Intestinal parasites, tuberculosis, and various skin diseases form the greatest menace to health, while hookworms abound. The work inaugurated by the Rockefeller Institute has resulted in an improvement of sanitary conditions.

Congress has never legislated for Guam. The governor, who is also the commandant of the naval station, combines in himself all functions of government, even some judicial authority, for an appeal lies to him in almost all cases. Most of the other Government officials belong to the naval station. The law in effect is the old Spanish law as changed by the Acts of the governor. The laws are in a chaotic state and badly in need of revision. There is no legislature, but for several years there has been a so-called congress with only advisory powers. The police department is wholly native with the exception of the chief and assistant chief, who are marines. The Insular Patrol, formed of marines, has certain constabulary duties, acts as fire wardens, and aids and advises the natives in their farming and in other ways. Of the able-bodied male natives between 16 and 60, numbering approximately 3,000, some 600 are employed by the Federal or island Government, while about 400 are employed in various town occupations, leaving about 2,000 for agricultural work. An effort is being made to introduce modern agricultural methods, so that the island may become self-sustaining. Since 1916 an effort has been made to exterminate the pest of rats, and about 1,750,000 of these rodents were destroyed in 29 months. The Commercial Cable Company has a cable station with connexions to Manila, Yokohama, Midway, and Yap. In Nov. 1917 the Navy Department opened a high-power radio station. Imports for 1920 were valued at $408,263.88, and exports at $34,132.94. The United States furnished $313,212.65 of the imports and took $15,148.59 of the exports. In 1920 imported foodstuffs were valued at $147,870.74. Government receipts in 1920, $155,209.06; and expenditures, $137,205.60.

In 1914 the German raider “Cormoran” was interned in Apra harbour, and after the United States declared war on Germany was blown up by the crew. The latter were captured and interned in camps in the United States, being the first German prisoners taken by U.S. troops. All the able-bodied young men in Guam enlisted in the militia formed for the protection of the island. In July 1918 a disastrous typhoon struck the island, and in three hours destroyed all the crops and ruined many of the coconut trees. Aid was rendered by the American Red Cross. Since 1899 there have been 22 governors and acting governors, all naval officers.

See William Edwin Saffron, Guam (1912); L. M. Cox and others: The Island of Guam (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1917); Guam Agricultural Experiment Station (annual reports beginning with that for the year, 1910-1); Annual Report, Governor of Guam, 1920; Census of Guam (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1921).  (J. A. Ro.)