Take a virtual tour of Guam’s villages. Each entry describes village names, history, landmarks, fiestas, mayors and other features that makes each village special.
On Guam, residents don’t live in large cities or towns. Currently there are 19 villages that dot the island—from Yigo and Dededo in the north, to the central villages of Hagåtña and Mangilao, to Merizo and Umatac in the south. Most of the villages are known by both their indigenous Chamorro and Americanized/Spanish spellings—for example, Malesso’ is the indigenous name for Merizo.
Some of Guam’s villages existed even before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the establishment of the first permanent Spanish colony in 1668. An early map of Guam from the 1700s shows nearly 40 villages plotted mostly along the coastal areas around the island, although there were probably many other smaller areas of settlement not included in the map. With the Spanish reducción, all of Guam’s northern and central villages except Hagåtña (and all the northern Mariana Islands, except Rota) were emptied out and the residents forced to live in the main districts of Hagåtña, and Pago, Agat, Inarajan, Umatac and Merizo in the south. All the other villages were absorbed into these districts and while many place names were lost to memory many other places names persisted and remain in use today.
By the 20th century, in an effort to expand agricultural activities of the native population, the naval administration built roads and schools to encourage people to stay longer on their ranch lands and continue farming. Although many people did spend more time in these places, most Chamorros continued to maintain their residences in the main villages of Hagåtña and Sumay. By the 1920s there were eight municipalities established by the naval government: Hagåtña, Agat, Asan, Inarajan, Merizo, Piti, Sumay and Yona. By 1939, there were 15 municipalities.
By 1945, the residents of Hagåtña and Sumay, which had been ravaged by World War II, needed to be relocated. The US government took large parcels of land to create the military bases in northern and southern Guam; the people of Machanao relocated to Dededo, and the people of Sumay were resettled in the new village of Santa Rita. Most of Hagåtña’s residents moved to other villages like Sinajana and Barrigada. Read more about those changes here: Resettlement Patterns Under American Rule.
Today, Guam’s 19 villages boast diverse populations and range from bustling and crowded communities to sleepy, slower-paced neighborhoods. Each village is full of history and has something to offer even the casual visitor to Guam.
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1. Agana Heights (Tutuhan)
2. Agat (Hågat)
3. Asan-Maina (Assan-Ma’ina)
4. Barrigada (Barigåda)
5. Chalan Pago-Ordot (Chålan Pågu-Otdot)
6. Dededo (Dededu)
8. Inarajan (Inalåhan)
10. Merizo (Malesso’)
11. Mongmong-Toto-Maite (Mongmong-To’to-Maite’)
13. Santa Rita (Sånta Rita)
14. Sinajana (Sinahånña)
15. Talofofo (Talo’fo’fo)
16. Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon (Tamuneng-Tomhom)
17. Umatac (Humåtak)
18. Yigo (Yigu)
19. Yona (Yo’ña)