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Hagåtña is the capital of Guam. Hagåtña was the population center of the island up until World War II, but it is now the second smallest of Guam's nineteen municipalities. Hagåtña is situated between Agana Bay and Agana Heights in central Guam, and may have been the first European City in the Pacific. Hagåtña was declared a city by the Spanish in 1686, at which time it was the capital of the Marianas and the residence of the Spanish governor. Marine Corps Drive, the main thoroughfare on the island, runs through the city from east to west. Hagåtña borders Tamuning in the east and Asan to the west. Today, Hagåtña is the seat of Guam's judicial, legislative, and executive branches, the center of Roman Catholicism on the island, and one of the island's commercial centers. Guam's public library and other public facilities are in Hagåtña. One reason why Hagåtña is sparsely populated is that public and commercial facilities occupy most of its real estate, leaving a small residential area in the western part of the city. The area now known as Hagåtña was inhabited about three thousand years ago, although little is known of the village as it was during that time. Although Ferdinand Magellan landed on Guam in 1521, Spain was not claimed for Spain until 1565. For a long period of time, Europeans lived among the Chamorro people. Little is known of Hagåtña until a Catholic mission was established there by Father Diego Luis de San Vitores in 1668. San Vitores renamed the village Hagåtña. Earlier names for the village may have been Agadña or Agaña, which became Agana on American maps. In 1998, the Guam Legislature reverted the spelling to Hagåtña to reflect the original Chamorro pronunciation. At the time that the Catholic mission was established there, Hagåtña was the island's principal village. Initially, San Vitores was welcomed by the Chamorro people. Chief Quipuha, the principal chief of Hagåtña, was the first adult Chamorro to be baptized, after which he took the name Juan, for John the Baptist, the patron saint of Guam. Don Juan Quipuha contributed land for the first Catholic Church on the island, and was later buried beneath the altar. However, within a few months of the arrival of San Vitores, opposition to the teachings of the Catholic missionaries began. Catholic doctrine differed too much from the traditional practices of the Chamorro people. Over a period of sixteen years, there were sporadic fighting between disgruntled Chamorros and the Spanish, culminating in a major uprising in 1684, which was put down by technologically superior Spanish troops. When control of the island passed from the Spanish to the American government, Hagåtña remained the chief village of the island. Although the American military governor lived on board a US ship for a few months while the governor's residence was renovated, his aid took up residence in Hagåtña. During this period, several residential areas in the city were replaced by commercial centers or by public buildings. One day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam was taken over by the Japanese and Hagåtña was briefly renamed Akashi-shi, the headquarters of the Japanese administration. Japan occupied the island for two and a half years. During the American bombardment of the island, several private, commercial, and public buildings were destroyed. After about three weeks of bombardment, American troops reclaimed the island. It was during the rebuilding that most of the residential areas of Hagåtña were redistributed by the American government, leaving the original property owners without property within the city. The result was a ninety-two percent decrease in the city's population. During the 1960s, some residential areas were constructed, and the city's population grew slightly.

 

 

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