Everything You Need to Know About Guam, Explained

The war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and President Donald Trump finally came to a head, with Trump threatening "fire and fury" on Aug. 8, and Kim countering with a promise to launch ballistic missiles at Guam "within days" of Aug. 9. To date, no action has been taken on either side — and optimists remain positive that the situation won't escalate to the worst-case scenario. But that doesn't mean we don't have questions; namely, what threat are we facing and what does Guam have to do with all of this, anyway?

To provide a little clarity to an otherwise-murky situation, we've run down everything you need to know about Guam and its role in this nuclear war of words. And we'll be keeping a close eye on the situation so we can give you the latest updates on what's happening.

Where and what is Guam?

The ultratiny nation of Guam lies close to the shores of Asia; to the east is the Philippines, to the south it's Papua New Guinea, and to the North there's Japan, China, and, most importantly, North Korea. Though the island is a whopping 4,000 miles away from its nearest US neighbor, Hawaii, the 210-square mile island is a territory of the United States. It's also home to two of its military bases, which cover 30 percent of the island's area. As a result, Guam has been nicknamed the "permanent aircraft carrier" of the United States.

Do people live in Guam?

Yes. Around 162,000 people live in Guam, as do an additional 12,000 to 14,000 American military personnel and their family members at any given time. Many of the residents are Chamorro, a culture native to the Mariana Islands, though may identify themselves as the regional Guamanian and are American by birth.

Why is Guam a part of the United States?

Though Guam was initially a Spanish possession, the secret agreement that ended the Spanish-American War relinquished its control to the United States. While the US has made it a crucial hub of military activity in the last century, Japan did capture the island during World War II, immediately after Pearl Harbor. That occupation decimated an estimated 10 percent of the native population, though the country has undergone a period of uninterrupted US rule for the last 73 years.

Do people in Guam vote for the president of the United States?

Guam, like Puerto Rico, sends delegates to the national convention for each party, effectively deciding who the candidate is that's running in the election, but they do not have a vote in the final presidential election. Should an individual choose to move to the mainland, they would be able to vote in the general election but only while a resident of one of the 50 states. Guam also has one elected official who serves in Congress on the country's behalf.