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An Island by Any Other Name: Guam or Guahan March 2, 2012
Astronaut photo of Guam
Guam has two seasons — wet from June to December and dry from January to June.
An unusually cloud-free day on December 30, 2011 provided a striking and unobstructed view of the Pacific island of Guam as seen from space.

The image to the right was captured by the Advanced Land Imager, orbiting aboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite as it passed over the Mariana Island chain.

Guam is the largest island in that archipelago, stretching roughly 30 miles from the northeast to the southwest.

Its fields, forests and coastal reefs are in contrast to the extensive military facilities that dominate the U.S. territory.

After being discovered by Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan on March 6, 1521, Guam’s first European colony was established in 1668 by Spain.

For more than two centuries, Guam was an important stopover for the Spanish Manila Galleons, which crossed the Pacific annually.

The United States took control of the island in the 1898 Spanish-American War as part of the Treaty of Paris.

Except for a period of brutal Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1944, Guam has remained a U.S. territory.

The Chamorros are Guam's indigenous people, who first populated the island approximately 4,000 years ago. According to the 2000 Census, approximately 65,000 people of Chamoru ancestry live on the island.

The name "Guam" is actually an exonym, or a name given to a location by a foreign power. In his final State of the Island Address on February 15, 2010, Governor Felix Camacho called for Guam to formally be referred to as Guahan, the name of the island in the indigenous Chamorro language.

He issued an executive order to make it official and immediately began referring to himself as the Governor of Guahan. The U.S. federal government does not recognize that designation.

Full story and image: NASA