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Territory of Guam, Guhan

Last modified: 2009-08-15 by phil nelson
Keywords: tree | sail | palm guam | united states |
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[Flag of Guam] image by Željko Heimer
Proportions: 22:41
Usage Code: [FIS Code]

ISO Code: GU GUM 316
FIPS 10-4 Code: GQ
MARC Code: gu
Status: territory of the United States

See also:

External Links:

Flag of Guam

The flag dates from 1917. I have seen two versions of it, one with a palm tree (if it is a palm) growing from the yellow peninsula in lower part of the shield, and other growing from the white background cliffs. I think the first one is right (it seems to me more logical).

The ratio of it is 21:40.
Željko Heimer, 20 February 1996

Crampton's Websters concise Encyclopedia of flags & coats of Arms, 1985 [mch85a], notes the flag was adopted in 1917 and accepted by the Guam congress in 1948 with the red border added in 1960. Barraclough's Flags of the World 1969 [bar69], shows the Guam flag without the red border surrounding the shield. When was the red border added or is the information on the red border totally wrong (did it have the border from the beginning)?
Nazomi Kariyasu, 20 April 1998

The red stripe surrounding the shield represents the blood shed by its people. A description of the Great Seal of Guam can be found on the Guam government site. In fact there is even a color photograph of the site represented on the flag.

It will be interesting to now see what may happen to the flag as there is a movement to eliminate colonization in Guam. One of the primary leaders is the territorial governor. This coincides with the 100th anniversary of the U.S. acquisition of Guam. I remember a similar movement when I was stationed there in the early 1990's, however this movement was to upgrade the status to a Commonwealth.
Gene Duque, 20 April 1998

It would appear that the red border around the seal has been on the Guam flag from its initial adoption. The National Geographic flag issue of September, 1934 [gsh34] at page 367 shows the Guam flag in its current form. The only apparent difference is the heartland which appears in green to conform with the seal, where most artistic renditions of the flag show the headland in white (apparently this was first published by Whitney Smith in his Flags of the States and Territories (1970) [smi70]).

The headland is supposed to be gray. Early illustrations used a dark gray that appears green. Currently a light gray is used making it appear white.
Ralph Kelly, 22 April 1998

The Guam Flag was designed by Mrs. Helen L. Paul, the wife of an American naval officer, and was officially adapted as the territorial flag by Governor Roy C. Smith in 1917. The background of the flag is a striking deep blue, which represents the ocean, accented by a red border. In the center of the flag is an oval figure in the shape of a slingstone used by the ancient Chamoru. The flying proa, a swift, seagoing canoe, typifies the courage of the first inhabitiants who travelled intrepidly across the Pacific Ocean. The coconut tree growing in barren sand depicts the determination of the earliest settlers to overcome whatever natural causes confronted them.

At: the image differs slightly from the one above and looks more like the ones depicted in >Smith (1975) [smi75] and in Pedersen (1971) [pea71b].
Jarig Bakker, 12 May 1999

Armed with the following from King [kng46]: "The National Geographic Society has a blueprint of Guam's seal dated July 4, 1917, but it was apparently used before that time. The design was confirmed in 1930 by executive order of Capt. Willis W. Bradley, Jr., U.S.N., then governor."

I googled a bit and found, which has a photograph of the blueprint, As can be seen, the blueprint is of the flag and the design was approved by order of the governor, Captain Roy C. Smith, on 4 July 1917. The colors of the components are marked in the lower left corner. The flag design shown for carrying on a staff. If I'm counting the grid squares correctly, the flag appears to be the 52 x 66 inches (132 x 168 cm) usual for U.S. military colors during this period.

Wikipedia says the flag was adopted on 9 Feb 1948. I'm not sure what happened on that date. Our page says the red border wasn't added until 1960, and it can't have been a legislative enactment in 1948 since the Organic Act that established the legislature wasn't adopted until 1950.
Joe McMillan, 25 July 2005

The full text of the 1930 Executive Order (courtesy of Jos Poels) reads as follows:


Effective this date the official seal of the Naval Government of Guam will be that shown on the plan of the Guam flag approved July 4, 1917, by Governor Roy C. Smith, and now filed in the office of the Auditor-Registrar.

A reproduction of the seal is so shown below

Willis W. Bradley, Jr.

Governor of Guam

Christopher Southworth, 26 July 2005

I interpret the language [ref: flag law] as giving the overall size of the flag as 40 x 78, with the 2-inch border being taken from that field, while those who give a ratio of 22:41 interpret the border as being added to the 40 x 78, to give a total size of 44 x 82, which is indeed 22:41.

Oddly enough, Whitney Smith (Flag Book of the US [smi75b] and Flags through the ages and across the world [smi76] gives the ratio as 21:40. Where that comes from is anyone's guess.

Smith also asserts that the red border around the arms is shown "usually, but unofficially," even though the original 1917 drawing as well as the current specification shows it. Smith cites the 9 Feb 1948 date as one on which the flag was confirmed but gives no further information.
Joe McMillan, 25 July 2005

Flag without the red border

[Flag of Guam without border]  image by Jaume Oll

The Guam flag referenced in the September 1934 National Geographic is not the current one. The flag does not have the red border. Mr. Crampton's work references the red border of the flag, not the red border of the seal. Maybe the flag was changed to the current pattern in 1960 as Mr. Crampton mentioned.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 27 April 1998

It appears the flag was officially adopted on Feb 9th 1948 and modified in 1960 when red border was added.


Kannik (1958) Handbook of Flags [kan58a]
1934 National Geographic Magazine

Nozomi Kariyasu, 4 May 2001

Municipalities of Guam

None of the other villages of Guam have a city flag.
Ben Cahoon, 31 March 2009

Under 1031 of the Guam Code Annotated, municipalities may adopt a flag and notify the Compiler of Laws of the selection and decscription of the flag. The following are the 19 municipalities in Guam:

  • Agana Heights
  • Agat
  • Asan-Maina
  • Barrigada
  • Dededo
  • Hagta
  • Inarajan
  • Ordot/Chalan-Pago
  • Mangilao
  • Merizo
  • Mongmong-Toto-Maite
  • Piti
  • Santa Rita
  • Sinajana
  • Talafofo
  • Tamuning-Tumon
  • Umatac
  • Yigo
  • Yona

List source: Guam Code Annotated, 403(a) through 403(t) and website of Madeleine Z. Bordallo, delegate to Congress from Guam.